Animal Cognition

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 62–70 | Cite as

Duration of cats' (Felis catus) working memory for disappearing objects

  • Sylvain FisetEmail author
  • François Y. Doré
Original Article


This study explored the duration of cats' working memory for hidden objects. Twenty-four cats were equally divided into four groups, which differed according to the type of visual cues displayed on and/or around the hiding boxes. During eight sessions, the four groups of cats were trained to locate a desirable object hidden behind one of the four boxes placed in front of them. Then, the cats were tested with retention intervals of 0, 10, 30 and 60 s. Results revealed no significant differences between the groups during training or testing. In testing, the cats' accuracy to locate the hidden object rapidly declined between 0 and 30 s but remained higher than chance with delays of up to 60 s. The analysis of errors also indicated that the cats searched as a function of the proximity of the target box and were not subjected to intertrial proactive interference. This experiment reveals that the duration of cats' working memory for disappearing objects is limited and the visual cues displayed on and/or around the boxes do not help the cats to memorize a hiding position. In discussion, we explore why the duration of cats' working memory for disappearing objects rapidly declined and compare these finding with those from domestic dogs. The irrelevance of visual cues displayed on and around the hiding boxes on cats' retention capacity is also discussed.


Working memory Retention interval Object permanence Domestic cats Visual cues 



This research was supported by an operating research grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The experiments received approval from the Comité de protection des animaux de laboratoire de l'Université Laval, which is responsible for the application and enforcement of rules of the Canadian Council on Animal Care.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Secteur Sciences HumainesUniversité de Moncton, Campus d'EdmundstonEdmundstonCanada
  2. 2.École de psychologie, Pavillon Félix-Antoine-SavardUniversité LavalQuébecCanada

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