Sunday, June 4, 2023
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600 km on all fours: do cats have a superpower to find their way?

Every year, a few lost cats defy the chronicle by finding their owner’s home after months of absence, like Cocci, who traveled 600 km from Normandy to the Meuse. Do they have a superpower? We already know that cats have an ultra-efficient spatial memory, storing a range of visual cues – roads, houses, vegetation – but also smells, including pheromones that it leaves behind on itself, to map their environment. In the animal’s brain, a path of neurons is actually set up according to the different registered landmarks, and a kind of mental map is superimposed on the geographical and topographical map. Associated with this, the cat has a memory of movement which enables it to reproduce previously performed actions – “here I jump on this wall” or “I turn left at this angle” – and thus easily find its way back.



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