By Julia Zorthian
January 26, 2017

Cats may be just as smart as dogs (and humans), a new study suggests.

Japanese scientists tested to see if 49 domestic cats could remember which containers they ate food out of following a 15-minute delay, and said container was emptied, according to the study’s abstract. Having an episodic memory is often associated with having a degree of self-awareness, and separate researchers had already determined that dogs displayed use of an episodic memory.

The results revealed that cats could “retrieve and utilize [the] ‘what’ and ‘where’ information” they encoded from a single past event; in this case, the container they ate from. The researchers also said cats performed comparably to dogs in tests about understanding human gestures and facial expressions, the BBC reports.

“Understanding cats more deeply helps to establish better cat-human relationships,” study author Saho Takagi, a psychologist at Kyoto University, told BBC. “…Cats may be as intelligent as dogs, as opposed to the common view of people that dogs are much smarter.”

Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com.

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