smart cat

“You are beginning to test my patience, human.”

Many cat owners agree that their felines appear to hold many secrets behind those mysterious glowing eyes. The same seemingly omniscient demeanor that has baffled and captivated humans for thousands of years, often leaves us in awe of our cats. Whether they are sprawled on the rug, or perched from a high look-out, these lithe creatures seem so in tune with their surroundings, that they are riveted by sights and sounds which escape us entirely. For as long as these animals have been domesticated pets, feline intelligence has remained a challenge for humans to measure or grasp.

Measuring Intelligence

Because cats tend to work on their own time, (and are less concerned with advancing science or cooperating with studies conducted by subordinate humans), it has been very difficult to “rank” feline intelligence with the same success as we have achieved with canines. However, cat intelligence can still be noted through behavior observation to determine the level of several aspects of their minds, such as: memory, sociability, inquisitiveness, and adaptive abilities. Cats have proven time and again to be independent survivors, having noteworthy adaptive skills. Naturally curious, cats also seem to do fairly well in the inquisitive department, though they struggle with memory and sociability (which varies between breeds). However, in spite of a cat’s memory limitations, felines do all of their rational decision making and long-term memory storing in the cerebral cortex of their brain. In comparison with the intelligence of dogs, cats possess nearly 300 million nerve cells in their cerebral cortex, while dogs have roughly half that amount at 160 million cells. One technologically-inclined observer noted in “computer terms” that an iPad has 60 gigabytes, while the brain of a cat has upwards of 91,000 gigs.

Though felines generally do not undergo the same level of rigorous training that dogs engage in, they are also able acquire complex skills, such as house breaking, using a toilet, recognition of hand signals and spoken commands. Joan Miller, experienced cat show judge and Chair (Outreach and Education) at the Cat Fancier’s Association (CFA) weighs in on several cat breeds that seem to be the most adept and intelligent.

Top Ten Smartest Cat Breeds

Though many experts may have differing opinions about how the below cat breeds should be ranked, the following breeds are generally thought to be the most intelligent. These cats have proven to be impressive pets, whether by remembering the location of long-hidden toys, or the possessing ability to open cabinets and drawers, or accurately respond to signal commands.

  • Abyssinian
  • Bengal
  • Burmese
  • Cornish Rex
  • Javanese/Balinese
  • Scottish Fold
  • Siamese
  • Singapura
  • Savannah
  • Turkish Van Cat

NOTE: Other close contenders for the Top Ten list, were Persians, Japanese Bobtails, Korats, Tonkinese, European Burmese, Sphynx, and Somali.