Skip to main content

How smart is your cat?

How smart is your cat?

Posted by Patricia on 7th Aug 2023

I often tell people, "My cat is the smartest in the world." At least, that's what I say to people who think their felines are the most intelligent. But seriously, did you know there are ways to find out just how brainy your cat might be?

Why you should care

Dr. Marty, cited below, writes in his blog that "A cat's natural behavior and intelligence don't get much of a workout when they live a cushy, indoor existence. They don't have to hunt for food, and they don't have much to chase. Everything is basically done for them."

Because cats can experience age-related decline, Dr. Marty says, "Boosting your cat's skills and intelligence boosts their brain function, which may keep their brains younger for longer." He believes cat parents can do this with games, such as those that use food or feathery toys, and a cat-human version of hide-and-seek.

Another reason you should care, according to Purina, cited below, is considering the very active mind of a cat. "If their environment is not providing them with something to focus on, a cat will soon find their own problems to solve. This can include picking a fight with the furniture or even waking you up at night for an impromptu play session. Instead of letting all that pent-up energy turn your kitty into a miniature lion, you can direct it towards fun activities with the help of stimulating toys and games."

IQ tests for cats?

In addition to using games to learn about your cat's intellect, why not give him an IQ test?, cited below, has it all laid out for you. They discuss an IQ test created by researchers at the University of California, Davis. The test is designed to identify different areas that point to intelligence in cats, such as:

1. Can he differentiate between shapes?

A cat lady friend of mine used to draw different shapes on construction paper. She would cut them out, spread them on the floor, and then sit back and watch her kitty.

"The point wasn't that he never stepped on the circle if I said, 'Circle'”, she explained, "But he would avoid the circle, and that told me which one he didn't like."

It was an interesting take that clearly showed her cat could tell the difference between circles and other shapes.

2. Does he respond to his name?

Studies have shown that cats usually respond best with a short name. While you are searching for a name, say the possibilities out loud. Note the ones which seem to elicit interest from your cat. He'll be more likely to respond to you if he gets to pick his name.

3. Does he answer your questions?

I was curious about this one. I've been asking my cats stuff for years, but I am still waiting for answers. This test says they DO ANSWER, just not in ways we understand. This could be an area of learning for both kitties and humans.

According to the study, rather than words, your cat may answer your questions with his actions— or lack of. Examples are finally understanding that your cat doesn't like toys that make noise or games that involve another cat.

4. Can he learn basic commands?

Sure. If he wants. (See "Quote to remember" below.)

One last note: Healthy teeth and gums are often overlooked in discussions of cat intelligence. Regular dental care will help prevent early inflammation that has been shown to partner with dementia in humans, cats, and dogs.

Quote to remember: "Studies show that cats understand human commands, but don't care to follow them." - Anonymous


Dr. Marty

"How to make your cat smarter"


"Mental Stimulation for Your Indoor Cat"

"How to Test Your Cat’s Intelligence"