To study cat coordination, researchers investigated how long they were able to remember how long they walked through an obstacle. They stopped the cat when the foreleg had stepped through the obstruction, but the hind leg had not stepped forward. Next they distract the cat with food and move the barricade to see how the animal reacts. The cat remembers that she has stepped over the obstruction for at least 10 minutes and should lift her hind leg to avoid the object, even if it is no longer there.
To compare the cat’s active memory to visual memory, they repeated the experiment but this time stopped the cat just as it was about to lift its foreleg over the obstacle. Results showed that after a few seconds, the cat could not remember what it had seen but had not yet done: when the object was discarded, the cat forgot that it was there and continued to walk. Studies on horses and dogs have shown similar results. This memory plays a role in people’s ability to locate objects in the dark or to recall where they left their cars in the parking lot in the morning. By walking from the garage into the office, you reinforce the memory of the car’s position in your mind and it doesn’t take half an hour to find it.