For whatever reason, people assume dogs are more intelligent creatures than cats. This notion has been called into question by scientists in Japan, who have said that cats are as smart as dogs at certain memory tests. Cat lovers, of course, have always known this. Researchers at Kyoto University conducted tests on how well 49 cats could recall or relate to an event from the past – known as an episodic memory. The Japanese team got the felines to eat from one of two bowls. Fifteen minutes later, the cats were tested on their ability to remember which bowl they had eaten from and which remained untouched. The team found the cats could recall what they ate and where, suggesting they had episodic memory.
The scientists also said that cats were as good as dogs on a whole variety of mental tests, including responding to the gestures, facial expressions and emotions of humans. Researcher Saho Takagi told reporters that she believed cats think about past events similar to the way humans do. She said: "An interesting speculation is that they may enjoy actively recalling memories of their experience, like humans." She added: "Episodic memory is viewed as being related to an introspective function of the mind. Our study may imply a type of consciousness in cats." Ms Takagi said the research is good news for pet owners, saying: "Understanding cats more deeply helps to establish better cat-human relationships."