Although cats have smaller brains than dogs, they are extremely smart mammals, with a high level of emotional intelligence and a great willingness to adapt. While there is no standardized test to measure intelligence in cats, scientists have recently examined the ability to adapt, curiosity levels, and the need for mental stimulation in various cat breeds.
“Scientifically speaking, there is no universal measure of ‘intelligence’ in animals. Each species has evolved to adapt to a different niche. A mental ability that is useful for one species may not benefit the survival of another,” said Samantha Watson, a scientist at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), UK’s largest animal welfare charity.
“Some evidence indicates that particular cat breeds may have tendencies to be more active or friendly with people. However, every cat is a unique individual, and there is significant variation within those breeds. Every cat has a unique personality, which is shaped by both their genetics and life history.”
The experts report that some cat breeds seem to possess a higher level of intelligence than others. For instance, Abyssinian cats, originally from southeast Asia, are thought to be some of the smartest cats in the world, and are renowned for their high levels of independence and inquisitiveness. Moreover, they seem less fearful than other breeds, and are able to efficiently interact with children, dogs, and other pets such as ferrets and parrots.
Bengal cats are also famous for their good memory, ability to easily learn tricks, and strong awareness of their surroundings. However, as in the case of Abyssinians, this high level of intelligence comes with a cost: when they lack mental stimulation, they often become depressed or aggressive and destructive.
Another example of a smart breed is the Burmese cats, which thrive off companionship with other felines as well as humans. Unlike Abyssinians and Bengals though, Burmese cats crave more for attention, frequently curling up on people’s laps and trying to sleep in their owners’ beds. These highly sociable cats are known for being very talkative and are even able to learn games such as fetch.
While these appear to be the smartest cat breeds around, other breeds such as the Cornish Rex, the Scottish Fold, the Singapura, the Siamese, the Turkish Angora, and the Japanese Bobtail are also well known for their intelligence.
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