Cat Intelligence: Our Problem-Solving Felines

Cat Reading Book

Did you know cat intelligence is one of the highest among domestic animals? Despite their brains taking up a smaller percentage of their body than humans, cats prove that size doesn’t matter! Cats have 300 million neurons in their amazing brains, nearly double that of dogs, and the structure of their brain is 90 percent similar to a human’s brain. It’s no wonder that cat owners form such strong bonds with their feline friends. But how do our cats use this amazing intelligence?

 

Cat Intelligence: Communication

 Cat Meowing

Whilst your cat’s vocalizations aren’t a true language, they are a sure-fire way of telling us exactly what they want. Once past the kitten stage, cats primarily use their mewling sounds to communicate solely with humans. A 2002 study on cat intelligence and communication found that humans react in different emotional ways, depending on the tone and urgency of the cat ‘meow’. Cats know how to let us know they want feeding, stroking, or even taking home from the shelter. Over thousands of years, the cats most successful at gaining human favor would have been the best fed, homed and most likely to survive to breed. These cats passed on their clever, communicative genes. They have learned how to manipulate us masterfully, and we love it.

 

Cat Intelligence: Affection

 Cat Showing Affection

A sure sign of cat intelligence is the love they show to humans. A cat who rubs its head against you is claiming ownership of you and expressing pleasure at your presence. Cats use scent glands to mark anything that’s important to them, so it’s a huge compliment. Cats also bring gifts, sometimes quite disgusting ones if they are an outdoor hunting cat! You might find that your cat loves to express their affection while you’re in the bathroom. While you’re doing your business, cats have a captive audience. They can rub against your legs and jump in the sink and purr in your face, and they know you can’t escape! So expect bathroom company frequently.

 

Cat Intelligence: Puzzle Solvers

Cat in Drawer 

When I was quite young, I was given a clear example of just how high cat intelligence is. We used to have a tortoiseshell cat who used to sneak into the pantry when no one was looking. The clever thing was, she figured out how to quietly shut the pantry door behind her! I’d be in the next room and hear a noise from the kitchen. I’d come to investigate, but as all the doors were closed and no cat could be seen, I’d shrug and leave. Next time I went into the pantry, there was a smug and satisfied cat patiently waiting for me to open the door! She also figured out how to spin the outside door handle to let us know she wanted to come in, and occasionally even rattled the letter-box.

Science Daily tells us that cats learn by trial and error, observation and imitation. Basically, just like human children. This can manifest itself as ‘naughty’ behavior, but really, it’s just your cat learning and experimenting with its boundaries. Give your cats puzzle toys to keep them stimulated, or try hiding a favorite toy to watch them figure out where you’ve put it. Don’t hide it too well though. Cats bore easily, so make sure your puzzle is solvable!

Cat intelligence is so similar to human intelligence. They communicate well, they are emotional, and they love puzzles and figuring things out. By playing with your cats and giving them lots of love and affection, you can keep your cat’s busy brain healthy and active for many years.

What are some signs of your kitty's high intelligence? Tell us in the comments below!




Christine Whitt
Christine Whitt

Author



17 Responses

Beverly LaLonde
Beverly LaLonde

September 04, 2018

I have 2 cats and 3 doodles. Jiminy Cricket gets between shower curtains and toilet and jumps towards me. Its been a game since he was a kiten. Angel is the most independent cat I have ever had. He likes the doodles first and I am at the bottom of the pack.Lol🤗

Jerdis Cerney
Jerdis Cerney

August 24, 2018

He was names Shakespeare at the Humane Society where I adopted him from. HE adopted me although I tried not to agree since I did not think he was that “pretty”. WELL, outside looks are NOT important as he has a big heart, lots of affection and follows me around like a “puppy dog”.

Nikki
Nikki

August 18, 2018

I’ve seen an article from National Geographic that suggests the exact opposite about cat and dog neuron counts. It claims that dogs brains have “about 500 million neurons, more than double the 250 million found in the cat’s brain.” Are our current methods for counting neurons unreliable? Are the samples for dogs wildly different in both studies? The cats vs dogs intelligence debate remains unresolved.

Geoffrey Berner
Geoffrey Berner

August 18, 2018

We have French door handles through out the house. Norie has watched me open the doors and now she will open them to get in or out. Luckily the outside doors the handles are 2 inches too high for her paws.

Eunice Safford
Eunice Safford

August 17, 2018

My Sparkey waits fro us to get up and if we’re a little late she starts mewing loud and if we still don’t get up she gets louder and louder. She knows we give her treats as soon as we come out to the family room, and she wants them bad!

Ellen Lohmeyer
Ellen Lohmeyer

August 17, 2018

Our cat saw her own reflection in the front panel of a hydrator drawer…from then on she thinks that there is a cat in the refrigerator and she wants the refrigerator door opened all the time so she can go look. She sits in front of it a lot, and she “talks” to the cat in there. It is funny but can be scary when I think how easily I could shut the door on her or step on her when she is laying in front of it in the dark.

Chele
Chele

August 17, 2018

My Morris goes to the back door and meows when he wants to go out,He is 4 years old and we rescued each other when he was a kitten.Morris “talks” to me all the time , he has an unusual meowing he makes that sounds like he is talking,He also knows when I am not feeling well and he will sit in my lap or by my side until he knows I am feeling better.Morris is such an affectionate boy that even people that normally don’t like cats end up petting him!

Charlotte Orth
Charlotte Orth

August 17, 2018

I have a one-year-old cat, named Jett. He plays fetch with paper but it has to be a crinkly kind of paper and he likes the noise. He often takes his paper and other toys and puts them in his water bowl for some reason.

Alice
Alice

August 17, 2018

Believe every word, Our lad, Sky, will let us know if he wants food, by going to the food package, or ham (his favourite treat) by going to the fridge, he even knows when we spell h.a.m.!,
When my daughter lets him out, and tells him to be back in half an hour, he’ll be waiting at the door inside the half hour. He has never failed at this.
When we want him to come in, if we’re going out for a while, or if he’s away on one of his wanders, and we haven’t seen him for a while, a couple of peeps on a ‘silent’ dog whistle, and he comes running. At bedtime, we say, ’’go to bed," and off he goes into his nest on top of the freezer.
Highly intelligent lad.

Martha Williams
Martha Williams

August 17, 2018

Smart? you bet they are. I swear my Jake understands exactly what I say to him. Like all cats, he loves boxes. A couple years ago, a new box arrived, and as soon as I removed the contents he checked it out, then climbed into my lap for a nap. While he slept, Mini, my other cat checked out the box, curled up in it and went to sleep. A while later, Jake woke up. I said to him, “Jake – Miss Mini is in your box!”
He immediately jumped down, went to the box and chased her out!

Irene Wandtke
Irene Wandtke

August 17, 2018

My cat Bandit is too smart for his own good! he loves to go outside but is only allowed to do so with a harness and a leash on (it didn’t take him long to figure out how to jump the back wall) this way I’m able to keep track of him. Anyway when he wants to go outside he’ll go to the back door, stretch as tall as he can and pull down on the door handle trying to open the door. Well he’s doing it if you look back at me and meow! Thank goodness he’s not strong enough to pull it open! Doesn’t stop him from trying though!

Pete V
Pete V

August 17, 2018

My black male cat (domestic short hair) has a unique way of letting me know he does not like the food I have put out for him. After a sniff or two he usually digs in but when he’s not happy with it he turns around and with the bowl behind him he uses his front paw to make a burying motion just like how cats bury their waste in the litter box. He does this repeatedly until he is sure I have noticed

Biba
Biba

August 17, 2018

Hi, I just read the contrary, scientific studies show that dogs have 500 million neorones while cat’s have 250. 😢

Karen  Fisher
Karen Fisher

August 17, 2018

My cat invents his own games. Then he gets me to play. He knows
Peek-a-boo and hide and seek. He retrieves things upon request.

Carrie
Carrie

August 17, 2018

My cats come running to the kitchen with eyes gleaming when I clean and chop celery because I typically put celery in tuna salad when I make it and usually give them some tuna. So even when I’m prepping celery for something else they think tuna. 😊 they also verbalize a certain way a lot when they know something is supposed to happen at a certain time, like dinner time.

Pam London
Pam London

August 17, 2018

My female cat has us on a feeding schedule. About 4-5am., 11am, and 4pm. However she also knows at 6pm she gets treats. Then she settles in to watch ABC news and Jeopardy. Too smart.

Terri Kellett
Terri Kellett

August 17, 2018

My SANDY-BOY is the most affectionate cat that I have ever had! He loves playing with this orange ball circle toy that I have bought for him a few years ago. I wish that I had had gotten this toy for all the other cats that I had previously. He plays with it for fun and also when he is frustrated!! Please get this for your cat, they will also love it! He is also very vocal and he lets me know what he wants . He is a orange tabby with a wonderful white V down his chest and belly and he has white paws, He was a rescue cat and the best decision I have ever made!

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Get started now.

Join other happy cats and their owners who are using PrettyLitter!

I Want PrettyLitter
"I can't believe how spoiled I've become with this litter. It makes dealing with cat excrement so much easier! I love Pretty Litter. A lot."
G. Gregory, Angier N.C.