In March of 2020, a British woman named Eve McDonnell was reunited with a cat named Missy. Such incidents happen on a regular basis, but what made this particular case special was the fact that Missy had been missing for 11 years. For those who are curious, Missy went missing when she managed to escape McDonnell’s car while the latter was buying milk at Five Ways in Birmingham. There was a search, but nothing turned up. In much more recent times, a man named Ali Shah and his mother Salma noticed a cat hanging around a local driveway where it would sleep either on a bin or huddled up in the piles of rubbish when winter hit. After speaking with the owner of the driveway, the two decided to befriend the cat, which culminated in the two deciding to rescue the cat.
Thanks to this, the cat winded up in the hands of Little Haven Rescue before being sent to see veterinarians, who discovered that she had been microchipped. From that point on, it was no more than a matter of time before Missy was reunited with McDonnell. Unfortunately, Missy’s time as a stray cat had taken a clear toll on her. For example, she now has to subsist on food meant for kittens, which is necessary because she has lost a lot of her teeth. Likewise, when she was brought in, she was so skinny that her spine protruded the entire length of her back. Still, the fact that Missy has been reunited with her owner after such a long period of separation is something that a lot of people would call nothing short of miraculous.
How Well Do Cats Remember?
Besides that, Missy is also an excellent example of how well cats can remember cat owners. After all, the indications are that she remembers McDonnell in spite of their long separation. Something that might be particularly surprising to those who buy into the claims that cats don’t care about cat owners. For those who are curious, cats are believed to possess both short-term memory and long-term memory. Supposedly, cats have a short-term memory of about 16 hours, which is pretty impressive in its own right. However, their long-term memory is even more remarkable because as shown by this story, they can remember people for years and years after their interaction. Having said that, a cat’s memory seems to be very associative in nature, meaning that it is very much tied to their senses of sight, smell, and hearing.
As such, their strongest memories seem to be those formed when they are in an excited state, whether that excited state happened to be positive in nature or negative in nature. Something that explains much about why it can be so difficult to befriend a stray cat that has been mistreated by humans at some point in time. In any case, it is important to point out that there are also considerable differences from individual to individual. As a result, there is no guarantee that one cat will be as good at remembering things as another. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that cats can suffer from cognitive decline in the same way as humans as they get older and older. Supposedly, more than half of cats between the ages of 11 and 15 will suffer from this particular issue, while about 80 percent of cats between the ages of 16 and 20 will suffer from the same.
How Smart Are Cats Anyway?
From wondering about a cat’s memory, it is a perfectly natural jump for people to wonder about a cat’s general intelligence. Unfortunately, that question is even more complicated, not least because that raises further questions about what intelligence is and what intelligence is not. For example, it is very common for people to talk about Abyssinians, Bengals, and Siamese being the most intelligent cats. Unfortunately, such assessments can be rather misleading because they are based on those breeds’ sociability rather than other factors. Sure, one could make the argument that sociability is an important component of what most people would consider to be intelligence, but it isn’t what most people would consider to be the whole of intelligence. On a similar note, the same argument can be used when it comes to comparing the intelligence of cats and dogs. There are a lot of people out there who think that dogs are smarter because dogs are so much more trainable than their feline counterparts. However, that is just one single aspect of intelligence rather than the whole of said concept.
In any case, there are some interesting results that have been produced by tests comparing one species with another. For example, cats are apparently not very good at counting, with the result that they are beaten out by dogs as well as certain species of fish. In contrast, cats can be better puzzle-solvers than their canine counterparts because they will continue working at a puzzle even under circumstances that would cause a dog to give up in preference for looking for assistance from dog owners. These results should give some insight into the complexity of gauging intelligence, seeing as how it consists of a wide range of aspects that a particular species can be better at in some ways but worse in others.
Having said that, there is one more issue when it comes to feline intelligence. Basically, we don’t actually know that much about feline intelligence because we haven’t run enough tests on our feline companions. In fact, we know even less about cats than about dogs because the latter has received more focus in this regard. As such, if people are interested in getting a better idea of feline intelligence, they are going to have to wait for the relevant scientists to conduct more experimentation for the purpose of shedding more light on the issue. In the meantime, stories such as Missy’s serve to remind us of just amazing our feline companions can be. Furthermore, they stand as testament to the bond that has formed between cats and cat owners, which is something precious that will presumably persist for the future to come.