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How Intelligent Are Cats? Here’S What Science Says

There is no doubt that our cats are highly intelligent.

They know their names and your voice and are very curious, which is indicative of intelligence. They can also be trained, if they have the desire, of course.

In our article, "How Intelligent Are Cats?" we investigate the intelligence of our cats and what makes them so clever.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) also examines a few studies that have tested the general intelligence of cats and the cleverest cat breeds.

Before We Start

There are very few studies that have tested the intellect of cats, but several research have evaluated the intelligence of dogs.

David Grimm is the Online News Editor of Scientific Magazine and a canine and feline science specialist. According to Grimm, by 2004, many laboratories throughout the globe had published several publications on the intelligence of dogs, but there were no studies on the intelligence of cats.

There have been a few cat-focused studies completed since 2004, but the world could certainly use more! According to previous study, cats’ independence presents the greatest challenge to scientific investigation.

Dr. dám Miklósi, a Hungarian ethologist, published a report on his research into how dogs and cats interact with humans. Miklósi remarked that he found it very difficult to deal with cats since they did not collaborate, follow commands, or engage in the same manner as dogs.

Therefore, the paucity of study on feline intelligence is a result of their unwillingness to cooperate. Anyone who has a cat should fully get this. Our cats prefer doing things their way the most of the time, if not always. But isn’t this the reason we adore them?

The Community Cat

Kristin Vitale, an animal behavior instructor and researcher, has concentrated on cat behavior, social cognition, and the interactions between people and cats.

Vitale conducted a research to see if cats preferred toys, food, or human interaction. Vitale used 55 cats, some of which were from animal shelters.

For the purpose of this research, these felines were given the choice between the three alternatives. Unsurprisingly, food was a close second, but slightly more than half of the cats preferred human connection.

Cats have individual personalities and behavioral characteristics, which helps to explain the findings of this investigation. Some cats may enjoy playing, but others would choose a reward or a warm lap.

Possibly, some of these approaches need to be employed to better investigate the intelligence of cats.

The Self-Reliant Cat

Cats may be rather secretive, and they are selective in their willingness to assist humans. They often have less patience and are more impetuous than dogs.

The majority of dogs are loyal and would do almost anything for their owners, particularly if they were praised and given food.

While cats are intelligent and capable of being taught, they will only obey instructions if they feel like it, regardless of how much they love their owners.

According to an article published in 2013 by Smithsonian Magazine, cats can recognize their owner’s voice but may choose to ignore it.

Probably, cat owners are not shocked by this. The main result of the research is that cats are far more independent than dogs since they have never been educated to heed human commands.

Miklósi also argues that cats do less effectively in laboratory examinations than their canine counterparts due to the stressful setting and unfamiliar human interactions.

Nonetheless, some cats have completed the laboratory exams, leading Miklósi to infer that cats may finish these examinations provided they are well-socialized and calm.

In addition, ethologist Péter Pongrácz tried a research with 99 cats, but only collected data from 41 of them because of the renowned feline independence.

The Brightest Species

All cats are quite intelligent, but specific breeds excel. Intelligent felines are often those who are naturally inquisitive and get into everything, especially since they like a challenge.

Therefore, these are the top five most intelligent cats in alphabetical order:


These cats are linked to the Siamese and have a tendency to get into mischief if they are not sufficiently challenged.


These small jaguars are active and need mental stimulation to prevent boredom.


When the Burmese grow bored, you may anticipate deviant conduct. They are lively, trainable, and like spending time with their owners.


These lively and huge cats were initially developed from African servals. Because they are quickly bored, you must offer them with chances to exercise and mental challenges.


The Siamese cat is, last but not least, one of the most popular breeds in the world. They are renowned for their intelligence, sociability, and friendly natures.

How Intelligent Are Cats?

Given how challenging it is to do research with cats, it is very impossible to tell. We are all aware of their intellect, but assessing it in a scientific research has proved to be extremely challenging.

According to Vitale, when researchers experience difficulties when researching cats, the issue is not with the cats themselves, but with the methodologies they are using.

Therefore, the renowned mystique of the cat will persist for scientists until they discover a means to get the answers they need by using acceptable procedures.

Meanwhile, we cat owners are well aware that our felines are intelligent. Does your cat seem to react to their name being called?

Can they distinguish between your voice and that of a stranger? If a toy or a treat is hidden behind anything, like as furniture, are they capable of retrieving it (unless it’s physically impossible)? If you answered yes to these questions, you probably have a clever cat!


Cats are intelligent, but only in their own way.

They can make judgments that are in their best interests, not necessarily those of their owners, and they are quite autonomous, both of which speak volumes about their intellect.

BestForPets (bestforpets.org) is also aware that our cats might exhibit unusual behavior. Why does your cat continually knock the remote control to the ground?

This may seem to be misbehavior on the part of your cat, but keep in mind that he is only attempting to grab your attention.

While science and studies attempt to determine whether or not our cats are smarter than we think, as our article “How Intelligent Are Cats?” describes, we just know that they are clever and sensitive animals that we adore.

Author Image

Dr. Deborah Fletcher

Deborah R. Fletcher, DVM, is a skilled veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience dealing with companion and exotic animals. She has experience caring for a variety of animals, including household cats and dogs, reptiles, birds of prey, and even primates. Dr. Fletcher is a valuable part of the BestForPets team, where she contributes to their aim of providing pets and their owners with the finest possible treatment and services.

Veterinarian (DVM) Dr. Deborah Fletcher


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