How smart is your cat?

We imagine a debate between dog people and cat people about which animal is most intelligent will result in a heated conversation! While not as much research has been done on the intelligence of cats compared to how much has been done on dogs, the fact is that they both show unique levels of brainpower.

Cats vs dogs

You might wonder why researchers have not done quite as many studies on feline intelligence. Well, that is mostly due to cats being cats and their aloof natures. In other words, they are hardly interested in our experiments and simply don’t play along with researchers if they don’t feel like it! Herein lies the biggest difference between cats and dogs. As the well-known saying goes: “Dogs come when they are called; cats take a message and get back to you.”

Many dogs are eager to please their people and enjoy working when they are trained with positive reinforcement methods. We see many dogs who work as service dogs, police dogs and much more – and it’s easy to assume that cats are lacking in intelligence because they don’t do these types of jobs. But the research that has been done shows that cats are far from dumb, and many cats have been successfully trained to do a variety of things – it’s simply their independent natures that at times make them decide that they simply couldn’t be bothered. In fact, some might argue that cats are more intelligent than dogs for not catering to humans’ every whim!

Clever kitty

As with dogs and humans, it is believed that some cats are smarter than others. You can do a simple test to try to get an idea of your cat’s level of intelligence. Simply show your cat an object that catches her interest, such as a toy or treat. Do this in a room that is free of excessive clutter, helping your cat to focus on the chosen item. Now, hide the object behind something else, making it impossible for the cat to see. If your cat knows where to look for the hidden object, her IQ is around the same as a human child of 18 months old. This is because she realised that the object was still there, only hidden, and that it didn’t completely disappear.

If your cat is very smart, she will be able to predict an object’s movement without actually seeing it. For example, if a ball rolls in under a couch where she can’t see it, and she is able to predict where it comes out, your cat’s intelligence is similar to that of a two-year-old child.

You can also use your cat’s daily activities as a measure. Does she remember the schedule at home, such as what time she gets fed? Does she display good survival skills (which are natural for cats) as well as social skills, such as greeting you at the door when you come home from work? Are there any words she recognises, including her own name? Maybe you have managed to teach her a trick or two?

Of course, none of this really matters. All cats come with unique personalities and quirks, and even those who perhaps don’t fare so well when it comes to being smart deserve the best care we can offer them.

Some of the world’s smartest cat breeds include the following:

  • Singapura
  • Cornish Rex
  • Bengal
  • Tonkinese
  • Burmese
  • Siamese
  • Abyssinian
  • Turkish Van
  • Scottish Fold


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