Feline Intelligence: How Smart Are Cats, Really?

A smart cat reaches for a treat.

Your cat knows they’re clever, and more importantly, they don’t care if you recognize their skills or not. But the truth is, life is more fun when feline intelligence is observed and celebrated. You can teach them all sorts of skills and tricks. While they may appear completely indifferent to your enthusiasm, they respond to tasty treats. After all, you’ve been well-trained by a cat.

We Didn’t Domesticate Them

Many people believe that humans domesticated cats around the same time we figured out agriculture. This mutually beneficial relationship has thrived for centuries, but that doesn’t mean we had anything to do with it. Instead, cats started coming around in search of easy prey, and we just happened to fall under their fascinating spell. Their only boss is their own curiosity, and a sure sign of absolute feline intelligence.

Agile and Nimble-Witted

Feline intelligence can be measured by their impressive problem-solving skills and ability to adapt to their environments. They can develop new habits and behaviors based on the situation, communicate with others in their social group (that’s mostly us), and react accordingly to our training goals. 

Anatomy of a Cat’s Brain

The appearance of their brain may influence feline intelligence. A cat’s brain has complex surface folding and structure and is about 90 percent similar to that of a human. The cerebral cortex, responsible for information processing, has about 300 million neurons (almost twice than what dogs have), and boasts more nerve cells than most other mammals. 

The result is that cats easily retain memories, make quick decisions, and navigate their environment. In fact, because of the volume of nerve cells in the visual areas of the brain, cats learn by doing rather than seeing how to do things. 

Rewarding Feline Intelligence

Cats don’t often show patience or tolerance in situations they perceive as unrewarding. If you’re hoping to train your cat to run an agility course, or perform certain tricks, they want good treats and they want them right MEOW.

Cool Cat Tricks

Many cats enjoy rousing games of fetch, whereas others enjoy high-fiving, jumping through hoops, opening closed doors, or playing hide and seek. The list is really endless when you consider feline intelligence, and the harder a game/trick is the more enticing their reward. Train your cat to walk on a leash or use the toilet! 

Let the Internet Guide You

Feline intelligence is expressed in many ways all over the world wide web. There are millions of videos showing cat fails or foibles, and the majority of cat lovers out there are united in the adoration of feline intelligence.

If you ever have questions about your cat’s IQ, behavior, or personality, our veterinary staff is happy to help at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates. Please call us at (248) 646–5655.