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A recent study in Japan proved that cats may have the same mental ability as dogs, invalidating the idea that one is smarter than the other.
Pet enthusiasts usually have the impression that dogs are smarter than cats since canines show the ability to recall certain information and obey simple commands. However, scientists have recently discovered that both animals possess the ability to recall details of past experiences, also called episodic memories. Episodic memory has been observed only in humans and very few animals.
In a study published in Behavioural Processes, scientists from Japan conducted an experiment that involved 49 cats. Each cat was assigned to its own food bowl, which the scientists filled with food. After a 15-minute interval, the cats were given a second meal. The scientists observed that the cats remembered which food bowls were previously assigned to them. The same experiment was previously conducted on dogs, and the scientists reported that they showed similar behaviors.
Analysis on the study showed that both cats and dogs have the ability to recall episodic memories. This ability also allows cats and dogs to respond to human gestures and facial expressions in different ways, depending on how they previously encountered it.
According to Saho Takagi, one of the researchers, episodic memory is related to the ability to process one’s own thoughts and feelings. Being able to process episodic memories implies that dogs and cats may be aware of how their surroundings affect them. Because of this, Takagi believes that the study is valuable for improving the relationship between pet owners and their cats or dogs.