How Smart Are Cats?

How Smart Are Cats?

Sep 21, 2021
12 min

Are cats smart?

Did you know that the brain of cats is only about 0.9% of their total body mass? Indeed, their brain is small compared to that of dogs which has an average of 1.2% and humans which is about 2% of their total body mass. But in this case, the size of the brain does not always matter. Experts say it’s the folding on the brain’s surface and the structure of the brain that matter more than its size. The surface folding and structure in cats is about 90% like humans, a feature that is not closely shared by dogs. Also, the cat’s cerebral cortex is greater and more complex than that of canines. The brain’s cerebral cortex is responsible for processing cognitive information. The number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of cats is twice as many as that of dogs. Dogs have a measly 160 million compared to the 300 million neurons in cats. Another interesting fact is that the visual areas of the brain (a portion of the cerebral cortex) in cats contain more nerve cells than humans and most mammals.

How smart are cats?

Although the number of neurons that are present in the cerebral cortex is not a major indicator of intelligence, it’s a better indicator compared to the size of the brain. The functions of the cerebral cortex include the following:


  • Processing of rational decision-making and complex problem-solving
  • Emotional processing and interpreting stimuli from the senses
  • Involved in the planning of action
  • Help interpret language or other forms of communication
  • Storage of short-term and long-term memory

Cats have longer-lasting memories compared to dogs, especially when they learn something by doing instead of by observing. Indeed, cats are far more intelligent than what most people may realize but they can be very stubborn

Can Cats Be Employed Like Dogs?

Why are cats not used in police and military work or as seeing-eye cats? Unlike dogs, cats don’t excel at social tasks. Cats are known to be more impulsive and are not as patient as dogs. Cats can easily become frustrated with certain situations and won’t be able to tolerate them for long periods. If they find an activity unrewarding to them, they are quick to look for something else that catches their fancy. Suffice to say, the social IQ of dogs is higher than that of cats. In fairness, cats can tackle cognitive problems if they are in the mood for it.

Breed And Feline Intelligence

Some breeds of cats are smarter than other breeds. Smarter cats also tend to have better social skills and are more interactive with their humans. Some of the most intelligent breeds of cats include the Bengal, Siberian, Siamese, Balinese, Turkish Angora, Abyssinian, and Cornish Rex, to name a few.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do cats recognize their owners?

Yes, your pet cat recognizes you. But experts believe that cats rely more on their other senses than their sense of sight when it comes to recognizing their humans. Studies have shown that cats can distinguish the voice of their owners from that of strangers. With their keen sense of smell, cats gather information about their owners, making it possible for them to recognize their owner’ scent.


Do cats know their names?

Research studies have been able to demonstrate the ability of cats to recognize their names out of a series of unrelated and unfamiliar words. This means that cats probably hear when their names are called but they choose not to listen. Experts think that cats don’t really understand the concept of a name per se, but with associative learning, the sounds that their humans make may be associated with food or playtime or cuddles, etc. by their cats.

Do cats care about their owners?

Yes, they do! The bond is more obvious in indoor-only cats. This can be attributed to the fact that being confined means they are actively domesticated. Their owners provide for all their basic needs and spend more time with them. All these can create a stronger bond between pet cats and their humans.


How Do Cats Show Affection To Their Humans?

Unlike dogs, cats have subtle ways of showing their affection to their humans. Cats show their affection by:


  • Purring – Cats make different types of purring sounds. Be sure to distinguish a purr of affection from one that is made by a cat that is in pain, anxious, or nervous.
  • Grooming their humans – Grooming is an important part of the daily routine of cats. Aside from grooming themselves, cats also groom other cats they are comfortable with. They also groom their humans to show their affection. Grooming mingles the cat’s scent with yours and helps build a community scent. This is important when it comes to recognizing their feline family and their humans.
  • Giving you a slow blink – When a cat blinks slowly at you, it is his way of showing that he trusts you and is very comfortable around you. In feline language, a slow blink is called cat kisses. And did you know you can also give your cat a kiss by slowly blinking back?
  • Head bunting – When a cat bumps his head against yours, he is actually showing trust and affection. He is also marking you with the scent from the glands on his head.
  • Cheek rub – When your cat cheek-rubs you, he is showing that he trusts and feels safe around you. Scent glands on the cat’s cheek can also leave pheromones on you that will warn other cats that you have already been marked or claimed by another cat.
  • Showing their belly – A cat’s belly is the most vulnerable part of their body. Showing his belly is your cat’s way of letting you know that he feels happy, comfortable, and safe with you.
  • Hanging out with you – An affectionate pet cat is always on the lookout to hang out and interact with his human.