Have you ever thought about your pets memory? The experts suggest that extremely positive as well the extremely negative experiences, create the most lasting memories in both dogs and cats. Although that might seem normal, there are many experiences that are forgettable for us, but will last a long time for our pets.The first thing to point out is that both cats and dogs are very intelligent:Cats are pretty curious, but they are very cautious. Cats groom and hunt for themselves, which are signs of their high intelligence.Dogs have large vocabularies. (The largest we know of is Chase the Border Collie who has a vocabulary of over 1,000 words. This is pretty incredible.)
Cats and dogs like us have some form of spatial memory. Spatial memory is what we use to navigate our way about a City or know how to drive to a certain location. This is why cats and dogs find it pretty easy to figure out which cupboard you keep the treats in. They will remember other things such as good sleeping spots or where they live using Spatial memory.
We as humans have short term memory, this allows us to remember phone numbers or to call someone back. It is really important when it comes to things such as problem solving or maths. This type of memory doesn’t last very long and is why you should absolutely have a to do list!A pet has a short term memory to help it remember different types of information such as where you hid the treats.
There are lots of examples out there of pets showing off their long-term memory such as THIS article where Georgia hiked 35 miles home. Not a lot of research has been done into the subject but Cats and dogs do have long-term memory. It may not be exactly the same as us humans who use episodic memory to remember different episodes from long ago.Research suggests cats and dogs store memories based on how they made them feel, if it was a very positive experience or a very negative experience they are much more likely to remember it!Some studies suggest our pets use an associative memory. They remember people, places and experiences based on what they associate with it. For example, if you put on your walking shoes your pet may know they are about to go for a walk or when they see your neighbour that gives them treats they know they are about to get something to it.
Now for the big questions…
Does my pet remember meeting me?
The short answer is probably not, but they will know they love you. Their associative memory will have you associated with all sorts of positive emotions and experiences. For dogs one of their main ways of recognising you is through their sense of smell. Check out THIS book if that’s something that interests you!
Will my pet ever forget me?
Your pet might not remember every single thing you do together but they will remember you indefinitely. Our cats and dogs live much more in the moment than us, they won’t reminisce over good times but they will remember their positive associations with you, their home, their friends and fun places such as the park!There is lots of evidence of pets remembering owners after a long time, there are countless videos of owners returning home after a long time away and remembering their owners such as THIS one or THIS one for a cat reunion!. There is also evidence to suggest that they recognise a long time period has past from they last seen someone!