Elephants may be known for their amazing memory but don’t discount the housecat’s memory just yet. A cat’s memory is a mark of its high intelligence. Many people believe dogs are smarter than cats because they can be taught to do tricks and perform services from search and rescue to seeing eye dog service. The argument is that cats can’t be trained to do these things and are not used as widely as dogs, a.k.a., Man’s Best Friend. But we're not completely fair to the cat because comparing it to a dog is like comparing apples to oranges. Cats are not dogs, and yes, cats are highly intelligent.
What makes a cat so intelligent is its uncanny memory. Mark Twain, a professed lover of cats once quipped, “if any cat sits on a hot stove, that same cat won’t sit on a hot stove again. That cat won’t sit on a cold stove either.” What Twain explained is all a cat needs is a one-time experience; just one memory to set it up for life. Regardless of the future outcomes, the singular moment will last a lifetime for the cat.
The same goes for positive events in your cat’s life. It’s a quick game of association, and you can use this memory ability to train your cat. Ever wonder why it is was so easy to train your cat to use the litter box and why the dog (or the kids) can’t learn that fast? It’s because of an associated memory that aligns with your cat’s instincts to bury their own waste.
Not all cat training is that easy but if you play to your cat’s instinctual needs and allow them to build positive memory associations, they can be taught to do a broad range of tasks and tricks. Some cat owners teach their cats to open doors or turn on light switches. And some cats will teach themselves how to do this without your help because they know something is exciting on the other side of the door.