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What Do Cats Think About All Day? Facts & FAQ

Written by: Chelsea Mortensen

Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

ragdoll cat lying on couch

What Do Cats Think About All Day? Facts & FAQ

Your cat is sitting in their favorite spot, staring into the distance. They look just like they’re contemplating the mysteries of the universe—but are they? Figuring out what cats think about all day isn’t an easy task. There aren’t very many good ways to open a window into a cat’s thoughts. Brain scans and studies can give us some hints, though. For example, we know that cats don’t have a “Wernicke’s Region”—the section of the brain that helps humans think in complex language. So cats probably don’t think in meows and purrs.

But what do they think about?

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Living in the Moment

Cats love to live in the moment. They keep in tune with their immediate surroundings. That means that if your cat is working out a puzzle or playing a game, they are probably very focused on whatever they’re doing. When cats are relaxing, they’re probably enjoying the moment much more than we do. They can pay attention to the soft couch, the warm blanket, or the view out the window without intrusive thoughts crowding in.

maine coon cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: Remark_Anna, Shutterstock

Do Cats Think About Past Events?

We know that cats can have long memories. They can remember past events if they were significant, either in a positive or negative way. But there’s not much evidence to show that they spend much time thinking about their memories. As far as we can tell, if your cat is chilling out, they’re probably not replaying last night’s events.

Instead, cats probably recall past events only as much as they are reminded of them in the present. Smells, sights, and similar situations might remind cats of things that have already happened, and they might react emotionally to that. They may also use memories to solve problems and figure out solutions to tricky problems. This is based on learning and associating experiences with a positive outcome, such as food, praise, or attention.

nebelung cat playing on the floor
Image Credit: Milada Vigerova, Pixabay

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Do Cats Self Reflect?

Humans spend a lot of time just reflecting. We think about our past circumstances and behavior, our present self, and our wishes for the future. We beat ourselves up about embarrassing situations and mistakes.

As far as we can tell, cats don’t self-reflect like that. It remains unknown if cats have any level of self-awareness enough to analyze the past and present to make a picture of themselves. That kind of self-reflection is probably beyond them, although some cats don’t seem at all surprised when they see their reflection in the mirror, meaning they may have recognized themselves, while others behave as if they have seen another unfamiliar cat.

Further studies are required in order to look into cats’ potential self-awareness, or lack of it, as well as the depth and complexity of their memories.

Do Cats Miss Their Owners?

There’s a lot we don’t know about cats, but we do know they miss their owners. Some cats experience separation anxiety when they spend too long apart from their owners after they have gotten into the routine of spending time with them. They might also miss other pets or people around them who have passed on or moved away.

As your cat learns to navigate life without their missing friend, those feelings will fade, but the memories may not go away entirely. Some cats may be able to recognize something with a loved one’s scent, and that can bring back memories, but we can’t know this for sure.

cat owner
Image Credit By: Piqsels

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Last Thoughts

Even though we can’t be sure what your cat is thinking about, there is a lot we do know. Cats can experience separation anxiety and miss their owners, and we know that they can have long memories. All of these have an impact on what your cat thinks about. But when your cat’s staring off into space, they probably aren’t trying to contemplate their place in the universe.


Featured Image Credit By: Ria Peene, Shutterstock

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