Are Cats Smarter Than Humans? 13 Facts You Should Consider!


Although cats occasionally display silly behavior, it would be incorrect to assume they lack brains. In actuality, mammals all rate higher than birds and reptiles in intelligence.

Cats are smart. However, the answer would be “no” if the question is, “Are they smarter than humans?” According to experts, a cat has the same degree of intelligence as a child who is 2-2.5 years old. Additionally, they possess the intelligence to learn new skills, comply with orders, and remember information for application in a different setting.

However, we would discover that cats can surpass a young baby in terms of what it needs to know. For example, in terms of walking, running, jumping, using their knowledge to learn new tricks, etc., a cat can actually outperform a baby. A 2-year-old infant, on the other hand, would likely simply make amusing faces, react to uncomplicated stimuli, and begin to reach physical milestones like walking, running, etc.

We would be deluded to believe that “intelligence” or “smartness” is something that only belongs to humans. So it’s also important to determine if cats are intelligent, comparable, or superior to humans.

Are Cats Smarter Than Humans
Image Credit: Van Kedisi by Estin Giç Giç (CC BY-SA 4.0) from Wikimedia

Are cats considered intelligent?

Humans have taken away the title of being the most advanced in terms of intelligence. But that should not make us think of other non-human species as devoid of intellect or smartness. 

Cats are smart animals. They are actually a lot more intelligent than we give them credit for. Felines have developed cognitive abilities. These beings can retain new knowledge, combine it with previously learned material, and use it in various contexts.

Feline intelligence is a reality. Although we may never fully understand the extent of cats’ cognitive capacities, their strong aptitude never ceases to astound us.

How smart are cats?

Feline smartness is not an oxymoron. In fact, cats are frequently regarded as among the most intelligent members of the animal kingdom. They are also far more clever than we typically assume of them.

The method of training a cat will determine how smart it will be. A cat’s brain is just as sophisticated structurally as a human’s. According to one study, a cat’s cerebral cortex contains over 300 million neurons, giving them an advanced brain. However, how much they would demonstrate their intelligence would depend on their surroundings.

It is interesting to note that a cat’s cerebral cortex allows it to organize actions, comprehend language, and retain long-term and recent memories. Cats can take advantage of this experience to pick up new skills in unfamiliar settings.

However, how you respond to the above query will depend on how you define intelligence.

What is the IQ of cats?

Intelligence is associated with IQ. So whenever we think of our feline friends’ smartness, we try to decipher their IQ level. So, let’s find out the fact.

It is often stated that a cat has an IQ level of 100. However, this figure is controversial because animals cannot take IQ tests like humans. So, their IQ cannot be measured assertively. Nonetheless, the brain structure of cats makes them capable of learning tricks, comprehending basic instructions, etc.

Having said that, it is not really required to consider a cat’s IQ level when assessing its intellect. Cats are intelligent, and their actions are potent enough to reveal their smartness. If given the right living conditions, they can make wonderful family pets. They are lovely and cute.

Are cats the smartest animal?

Do you really believe that cats cannot think like more intelligent animals? You may be partially correct, but this isn’t the complete story.

The concept of smartness is quite arbitrary – it depends on how we define it. Cats are smart but not the smartest, though. That honor belongs to people. On the other hand, apes are renowned for that among non-human species. However, cats are intelligent enough to pick up tricks, obey directions, and display specific behaviors that might help them survive.

Big cats, like lions and tigers, are smarter than their domestic cousins in this setting. As a result, big cats are among the top predators because they are intelligent enough to hunt and survive in the wild. 

Are cats dumb?

Some people may think that cats do not possess any intelligence. It is true that felines do not possess a high level of intelligence as compared to humans. But are they dumb?

Cats are certainly not dumb. However, the level of smartness in cats depends on their species and the environment they live in. For instance, feline breeds like Bengal and Abyssinian are considered among the smartest. This is because they are highly intelligent and active, which makes them capable of imitating human actions, like opening door knobs, ringing bells, etc.

A cat’s brain is smaller than that of humans. Yet, structurally the feline brain is similar to humans. Like humans, cats learn by observation and doing. Also, cats can hold on to memories that are 10 years old and awareness of objects. 

Do cats remember things?

Having memories is a sign of possessing cognitive abilities. And since cats have this ability, do they possess a good memory? Let’s find out the truth.

Most studies have shown that cats possess excellent memories. For example, behavioral research has shown that cats could remember where a food bowl had been hidden for up to 16 hours. Therefore, we can say that cats excel when it comes to working memories and food. Also, they have a pretty good memory span for object permanence. 

Domestic cats’ brains possess the hippocampus– a part responsible for creating memories. As a result, cats can recall information easily and use it to acclimate to new environments. Their long-term memory can even survive up to ten years or longer. Distinct feline species would have a different long-term memory, though.

Which cat breed is more intelligent?

Image Credit: Abyssinian cat by Aleksandr Markin (CC BY-SA 2.0) from Wikimedia

Cats are one of the smartest living beings. However, feline intelligence would vary depending on their species. So, which cat breed displays a better level of intelligence or smartness? 

Some cat breeds are smarter than others. Here is a list of top feline breeds according to intelligence.

Cat BreedOriginSize
AbyssinianEthiopiaMedium
Bengal Cat USASmall to medium
SiameseSiam/ ThailandMedium
BurmeseMyanmarMedium
Scottish FoldTayside region of ScotlandMedium
Cornish RexCornwall, Great Britain.Small to medium
SingapuraSingaporeSmall

Are some cats more intelligent than others?

Image Credit: Bengal cat, 12 weeks old by
Sean McGrath
 (CC BY 2.0) from Wikimedia

Cats are not used for complex tasks, making them appear less intelligent. Yet, cats are smart, but their level of intelligence varies depending on their breeds.

Different cats have varying levels of intelligence. Breeds like the Bengal, Burmese, and Abyssinian, for example, exhibit a comparatively high level of intelligence. These varieties of cats are renowned for their active life and sharp minds.

According to anecdotal evidence, cats with higher cognitive levels tend to be more social and active. Having said that, a cat’s intellect or smartness is measured based on its sociability and readiness to engage in interactions with its parents or other people.

The breeds we mentioned are very social and thrive while engaging and having fun with their owners. They are teachable to learn tricks. But occasionally, these cats can mimic tricks simply by seeing them.

How can I confirm whether my cat is smart?

Is my cat intelligent? Have I taken in a smart breed? How to know if my cat is smart? These are a few questions you may have if you have cats and pondering about their intelligence.

Cats’ intelligence is assessed based on their propensity for social interaction, trick learning, and obedience. Therefore, please search for the following traits in your kitty friend to determine their level of intelligence.

Socialization

Does your kitty come to you when called? Does it wait for you at the door? Does it greet you when you come home? If the answer to all these questions is YES, congratulations, you have a smart cat at home. Dogs often display these behaviors, and they know when they will be petted and do what will attract their humans’ attention. Some cat breeds also display similar behavior, which shows their smartness. 

However, cats that do not display much social behavior should not be considered dumb. They also have intelligence, but their level may vary. 

Memory

Cats are well renowned for having strong memories. Their defining characteristic is thought to be their working memory. Cats, on the other hand, are largely motivated by a defined schedule. Therefore a change in it would frighten them. So, if you keep your cat on a set schedule and it acts as though it knows when dinnertime is or where its food bowl is kept, and also lets you know when it is hungry, your cat is intelligent enough.

Learning Tricks

It is not only dogs that can learn tricks. Certain feline breeds like Bengal and Abyssinian can also be taught to pick tricks. Bengal cats, for example, can learn to fetch if they are trained at a young age. But house cats or tabby cats can also learn to fetch. Play with them and teach them tricks while they are still young. Then, you can claim with certainty that your cat is intelligent if they pick them up. 

In this context, remember that breeds of cats like the Persian, Ragdoll, and others prefer a more relaxed lifestyle and might not respond to your teaching. However, this does not qualify them as unintelligent animals. 

Trainability

Smart cats may be taught to perform tricks and simple commands easily. For example, cats may be trained to comply with commands such as sitting down, standing up, or lying down, just like dogs can. However, a cat who doesn’t care to learn basic commands is probably not unintelligent; rather, they don’t care to learn. Therefore, please try to teach your cat and see what it likes. And if it refuses to care about your commands, you may just have a typical cat.

Are cats smarter than babies?

Humans are more intelligent than cats. But are the latter more intelligent than small babies? Let’s look for the answer.

The response to the question would vary depending on the baby’s age. For example, a cat is typically considered as intelligent as a 2- to 2.5-year-old human baby. As a result, if cats and kids over two years old are being compared, the latter may come out on top regarding intelligence.

We must remember that cats and humans are not the same species. Their requirements for survival also differ. Therefore, comparing and contrasting the intelligence of cats and human infants would not be wise.

Cats exhibit distinct behavior that indicates their intelligence, but human traits demonstrating cognitive ability are distinct.

Are cats smarter than dogs?

Dogs are smart, and this is a known fact. But the age-old question that still gets huge attention is who is smarter- cats or dogs? So let’s find out the answer.

Dogs have twice the number of cerebral cortexes than cats have. They are highly social, intelligent, trainable, and are used for complex activities like sniffing bombs or providing services to disabled people. But that does not make cats less intelligent than dogs. Both are different animals, and it s impossible to compare their intelligence. 

Both cats and dogs can understand human commands. Additionally, dogs can easily understand, get trained, and follow complex human commands. But felines often display indifference towards human instruction. On the other hand, dogs depend highly on their human parents for survival, whereas cats are more self-reliant. So, there are huge differences between these two animal species. 

A dog might appear smarter than a cat in some circumstances, while the converse may occur in others. Therefore, the question above cannot have a firm answer.

Are cats smarter than rats?

Image Credit: 14 years old American Shorthair by
Ocdp
 (CC BY-SA 3.0) from Wikimedia

We all have seen Tom and Jerry, which always showed Tom (the cat) is after Jerry (the rat). But Tom could never catch Jerry. So does this show rats are smarter? Or is the reality different?

Cats, like American Shorthair cats, are known to catch rats and rodents. That said, cats have a critical prey drive and have sharpened their skills to catch rats, while rats have evolved to evade cat attacks. So, in some cases, it gets really hard to confirm if cats are smarter than rats. 

Nonetheless, rats are intelligent and have good memories. Once rats learn a navigation route, they never forget it. They are also social, as they typically exhibit to their families and bond with their humans. 

Do cats know humans are smarter?

Humans are smarter than cats. However, do cats have any awareness of this reality? 

It is a mystery if cats understand humans. Science states that cats cannot comprehend human language. However, they understand human command via a combination of the human voice, tone, gesture, and expression. 

Summary

So, this was it. The key point that serves the crux of the article is that cats are smart, but humans are smarter. However, this conclusion does not put cats under the category of dumb animals. On the contrary, cats are smart enough to survive on their own. And if they are trained properly and are not predominantly indifferent, they can also learn tricks, follow commands, walk on the leash, and so on. 

Atrayee

I am Atrayee, I have extreme passion for the Animal Kingdom and I have written a large number of articles for animal behaviors. I am an Animal Lover by nature and own two Cats.
Exploring new things through learning and unlearning is something that intrigues me a lot. I spend my free time with my husband and two cats. I must say I get to learn a lot of wise things from them! You can catch me on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/atrayee-samaddar-06886567/

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