Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

Pet Memoirs: The Characteristics of Event Memories in Cats and Dogs, as Reported by Their Owners

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The case for episodic memory in non-human animals has been intensely debated. Although a variety of paradigms have shown elements of episodic memory in non-human animals, research has focused on rodents, birds and primates, using standardized experimental designs, limiting the types of events that can be investigated. Using a novel survey methodology to address memories in everyday life, we conducted two studies asking a total of 375 dog and cat owners if their pet had ever remembered an event, and if so, to report on their pet’s memory of the event. In both studies, cats and dogs were reported to remember a variety of events, with only 20% of owners reporting that their pet had never remembered an event. The reported events were often temporally specific and were remembered when commonalities (particularly location) occurred between the current environment and the remembered event, analogous to retrieval of involuntary memories in humans.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104885
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

    Research areas

  • event memory, episodic-like memory, dog cognition, cat cognition, involuntary autobiographical memory

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