How long does a cat’s memory last? What makes a cat’s memory so unique?

How long does a cat’s memory last? You might also wonder if your cat will recognize you when you return from vacation, or if your best friend’s cat will miss you after you’ve cared for her for a week.

Cats’ short-term memory lasts approximately 16 hours (if cats believe it is important to remember), whereas their long-term memory is limitless.

What Is Cat Short-Term Memory?

The short-term memory of a cat, also known as working memory, is used in daily life and influences how cats interact and stay alert.

Short-term memory stores immediate and general-purpose information that assists cats in solving basic problems and surviving.

Many people believe that cats have a 16-hour short-term memory.

This means that the cat will most likely miss you within 16 hours of meeting you for the first time.

This time is significantly longer than the 27 seconds determined in a 2014 study to be the average short-term memory span of animals.

Cats are likely to remember only information that is relevant or important to them, according to a 2007 study that tracked the movement of cat paws to avoid obstacles and discovered that cats’ short-term memory can last for more than 24 hours in some cases.

It is also important to consider how cats acquire information, as memories associated with movement or location are retained longer than visually acquired information.

Cats were more likely to remember things they interacted with (such as movement or location) than things they had just seen.

What is the long-term memory of a cat?

Long-term memory refers to important information that your cat can remember for an extended period of time (even indefinitely) that isn’t as easily retrieved as short-term memory, but it’s still there and can be stored. If the situation calls for it, recall.

Long-term memory is essential for all animals because it helps them avoid danger, identify areas suitable for food or hunting, and avoid trouble.

Cats’ long-term memory is classified into two types:

  • Hidden Memories – These are unconsciously formed implicit memories. The hunting instinct and self-grooming are two common hidden memories in cats.
  • Clear memories are those that can be consciously recalled, such as where the house is, who the owner is, and a stressful visit to the vet.

How long does a cat’s memory last?

A cat’s short-term memory lasts approximately 16 hours, while its long-term memory is limitless.

This problem is difficult to time because cats often remember people and events that happened years ago.

Events that left an extremely positive or negative impression were more likely to be remembered for a longer period of time, and the length of the human-cat interaction may also influence how long cats remember the person after seeing them.

That is not to say that cats will go around recalling and reliving long-term memories, but if they see a familiar person or animal, they will be able to recall them (and recall past interactions, good or bad).

They will miss you forever if you give them a bunch of cat grass and treats.

Spatial recall

These are memories associated with physical movements or positions. Cats are excellent at learning and remembering spatial memories.

This assists the cat in determining where to climb the furniture and how much force is required to jump onto any shelf.

When cats find food, they can remember where the food is for hours after finding it, allowing them to return to the same location to eat at a later time.

Visual recall

These are visual memories; common examples include remembering faces or remembering locations (having seen but not entered or interacted with).

Cats don’t appear to be very good at remembering things based solely on sight.

According to a 2006 study, cats have poor short-term memory when it comes to remembering the location of hidden objects.

The ability of cats to remember the location of an object was found to decline rapidly between 0 and 30 seconds in this study, with a delay of up to 60 seconds.

This is most likely due to the fact that they do not interact with the object and it has no meaning for them, so there is no reason to keep that information in their memory for more than 60 seconds.

What do cats tend to remember?

Aside from how long a cat’s memory lasts, what do cats remember?

What might cats remember now that we know more about their various memory types?

While this varies depending on the cat and their individual experiences, the most vivid memories are usually associated with particularly positive or negative events.

Among the most common memories are:


Cats miss their owners and those who devote a significant amount of time to them.

The longer the human and cat interacted, the more likely the cat was to remember the person.

To clarify, pet cats are more likely to miss feeders than humans who pay attention to them on occasion when they visit.


They remember other cats, but how long they remember them depends on the time and relationship between them.

When separated, littermates will exchange scents to identify each other, a technique used by cats throughout their lives.

If your cat grew up with other cats and they see each other again after a few years, your “well-being” will most likely miss these old friends.

A negative experience

If you’ve adopted a rescued cat and it’s acting strangely, it could be the result of something bad that happened in the past.

Cats dislike certain things, such as tall men, brown-haired women, and certain scents.

This suggests that the cats were being stimulated by memories of negative events in their past.

Sudden behavioral changes can reveal what your cat has been through in the past and how long she will remember it.

Important locations (such as where you live)

A Persian cat named Howie, who was brought to a relative’s house 1,000 miles away while his owner was on vacation, is a striking example of how cats can remember where they live.

When the owner returned, they were informed that Howie had fled while they were gone.

The situation perplexed the family, and despite their efforts, they were unable to locate Howie.

They ran into Howie again 12 months after he appeared on their doorstep. Howie traveled 1000 miles to get home!


Most cats are known to be voracious eaters. “She” recalls where food is kept and who feeds and cares for it.

They will recall where they obtained food, such as a bowl or tray, so they can return for more if necessary.

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