Smarty Cat: Can You Measure Feline Intelligence?
Cats are known to be fairly savvy at solving problems, but the full extent of feline intelligence remains unknown. Many cats can open doors, use and flush the toilet, hack into automatic feeders, and locate well-concealed toys, but they still don’t get recognition for their smarts the way dogs do.
Cats are famous for mapping out their surroundings and taking stock of their territory. Equipped with a better memory than some primates and dogs, cats quietly observe, experiment, and even imitate the behaviors of those around them. They remember things better than most pets, and they learn by “doing” rather than simply “seeing.”
This results in possibly impulsive behaviors and less patience in situations with few rewards, but it allows a cat to remember things for up to 10 years! If you really want to test feline intelligence, consider their retention and recall of information.
The cornerstone of feline intelligence is their ability to fend for themselves. They’re not pack animals like dogs, so they have to figure out how to survive alone. Whether that’s in the wild or in your home, feline intelligence involves curiosity paired with cautiousness.
Size Doesn’t Matter
The structure and surface folding of a cat’s brain are more important than the actual size. Remarkably similar to the complex surface folding in human brains, cats also have a cerebral cortex (known for making decisions) with twice as many neurons than dogs.
Cats not only process cognitive information quickly, but they also have more nerve cells in the part of the brain reserved for visual information. This allows them to see and process more than most mammals.
The largest cat brains in the world belong to tigers in Java and Bali. While the needs of your own domestic feline differ from their distant relatives, brain health is connected to a nutritionally balanced diet.
Sleep is also an integral part of feline intelligence and brain wellness. A dreaming cat is evidenced by twitching whiskers, uncontrolled paw and limb movement, and even vocalization.
Testing Feline Intelligence
There are various ways to test feline intelligence. Depending on your cat’s age, you might see differences in learning and memory. As with humans, aging cats may start to lose short-term memory retention. However, most cats are capable of learning new tricks, testing boundaries, and retaining/integrating information.
Looks Aren’t Everything
Cats are great pets, but their adorable qualities and steadfast companionship aren’t everything. Indeed, feline intelligence is part of why we enjoy sharing our homes with them, and it will continue to inspire us every day. Also, not to ruffle the feathers of dog owners, but cat owners have been found to have higher IQs.
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