How intelligent are cats?

Cats are often thought of as less intelligent than dogs, mainly because they are harder to train to do tricks. This is more of a temperament problem and not anything to do with their intelligence. Cats are independent and do not obey easily, while dogs naturally live in packs and have an instinct to be subservient to the pack leader - you, with domestic dogs.


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Cats are actually very smart animals. Particularly in the area of emotional intelligence, cats have been bred for several thousands of years to be attuned with people, and they show far more understanding of human emotions and behavior than their undomesticated counterparts. Cats often communicate with their owners through vocalization, and learn very quickly that meowing will get you to feed them, open doors for them, or whatever. It is very obvious to any cat owner that they experience the full range of human emotions. They can solve complicated problems, and many learn to open doors or other behavior that you wouldn't expect from a dumb animal.

There is even a book that has an I.Q. test for cats. While it's not intended to be scientifically accurate, it is a fun thing for cat owners and the book covers all the evidence that cats are truly intelligent creatures. It's called "The Cat I.Q. Test" and is available here online.

The other obvious point that the idea of IQ testing cats should tell you is that, like people, not all cats are equally smart. Some are dumb as dirt. Others are clever and cunning. They also won't show intelligence in the same way as a person would. Intelligence is about solving problems, and the problems of a cat are different from the problems of people. Smarter cats will figure out better ways to hunt, to jump up onto higher things, or to get into stuff they're not supposed to. Your cat isn't going to be doing math problems or discovering a unified theory of physics. But they are still intelligent creatures where it counts - in providing a loving companion for pet owners.  

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