Why Do They Do That – Feline memory
It appears what a feline sees and what a feline does affects his or her memory in different ways. Researchers from the University of Alberta in Edmonton studied how feline memory works. They conducted two obstacle tests. In the first set of tests, researchers placed obstacles in front of cats. When the cats’ front legs cleared the obstacles, they were distracted with food. Then the obstacles were placed in front of the cats again. In the second set of tests, the cats were stopped just before their front legs cleared the obstacles. Interestingly, the cats that stepped over the obstacles with their forelegs, remembered to clear their hind legs even when distracted for up to 10 minutes. However, when the forelegs did not step over the obstacles, memory of the obstacles was quickly lost. Although it is not clear how these tests relate to humans, they may play a role in how we navigate objects in the dark. You may have noticed that when you move through a cluttered lighted room that when you turn the light off, you still have the ability to avoid objects even though you cannot see them.
McVea and Pearson (2007) “Stepping of the forelegs over obstacles establishes long-lasting memories in walking cats.” Current Biology, 21 August, R621-623.