The Cat Fanciers Association recognizes over 22 breeds of black cats, Persian.

Cats are smart, learn fast & can remember forever

Cats are smart
Cats are smart

Not only are cats smart, they learn fast and have an uncanny long-term memory. Just ask any cat owner, and they’ll tell you just how smart their cat is.

Are cats smarter than dogs? That question is often asked, and Paws hasn’t found any definite conclusion on that point. The fact is cats are loners, unless it is to their benefit to live in groups, like an ample food and water supply, or protection from predators. Only the domestic cat and the lion form groups to raise their young.

Dogs on the other hand are pack animals. They live in groups, and develop a hierarchical structure. They live to please their humans. On the other hands, cats are more independent and aloof. They love their humans, but it’s not all about groveling for their approval.

What we do find is that the cat and human brain are very similar. According to an Article in Cornell University’s Cat Watch,’ How Smart is Your Cat’, February 2012, we find both brains have the same lobes in the cerebral cortex, ‘the seat of intelligence’. Our brains function the same, conveying data via identical neurotransmitters.

This should not be all that surprising considering cats share well over 200 diseases with humans, including Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes, heart failure and stroke.

Both humans and cats process data from five senses (hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste), and from that data, they make decisions. Moreover, they demonstrate ‘adaptable behavioral ecology which is a sign intelligence beyond instinct of conditioning.

Cats learn through observation of other cats as well as their humans. We all know our cats quickly learn how to dart out the door to get to excitement of the outdoors. They learn to open cupboard doors in search of food. They learn a can opener means breakfast. When they see the sun, they want to go outside. When they see snow, they know it’s best to stay inside. They know when their Mom is ready to go off to work, and are meowing for their treats bribing them from darting out the door. They even know how and when to Meow to let their human know they want attention. They quickly learn the sound of their human’s car coming home from work and greet her ever night in hopes of getting another treat because she feels guilty they’ve been left alone all day.

It has been proven that kittens that are not raised with other cats usually don’t do many

Clyde never learned to hunt mice
Clyde never learned to hunt mice

common things other cats do. That’s why it’s so important that cats learn from their mothers. That might be why our tuxedo boy Clyde has no interest in mice, while all 4 of his housemates think they are the best thing since sliced bread.

The article concludes there’s no doubt that cats are pretty smart when it comes to their memory, associative ability, behavioral adaptability and observation skills.

The cat’s brain is smaller in comparison to its body mass than a human’s and a cogs. A cat’s brain  0.9 percent of its body mass, compared to about 2 percent in an average human and about 1.2 percent in an average dog. But size is not necessarily the test of intelligence. Research finds that brain structure matters more than size. The brains of cats have a surface folding and structure that is 90 percent similar to that of the human brain. Both cat and human brains have cerebral cortices with similar lobes.

We also learn that a cat’s brain is separated into different areas that each perform specialized tasks. They are all interconnected and can easily and rapidly share information

Cats, like humans, have a cerebral cortex, responsible for memory, learning, and decision-making. Cats have the ability to store both long-term and short-term memories, and most memories are retained for life. Even though a cat may not have hunted for years, he can recall the memory of how to hunt. Even though a wretched trip to the vet was years ago, the cat will recall that and run for cover when they see the cat carrier. Memory is important because it helps shape the ability to learn. Kittens learn survival skills such as hunting and grooming from observing and copying their mother. They learn to play and be social from their litter mates.

While watching a cat agility competition recently at a Cat Fancier Association (CFA)

cat show, Paws found a number of people saying “I didn’t know cats could do that… I didn’t know cats could be trained. I thought only dogs could be trained.’

The agility course is a perfect example of how cats can be trained. It’s a matter practice makes perfect. They can indeed be trained to perform specific tasks, or even tricks. It involves repetition and immediate rewards. The agility trainer shared this with Paws – ‘It’s as much training the person as the cat.’

The reward, referred to as operant conditioning, lets the cat learn a desired behavior through the use of a reward, usually in the form of food, in response to the performance of the behavior. As cats are independent and aloof by nature, the operant conditioning must be immediate. Otherwise the cat will not make the connection between the behavior and the reward.

Clicker training is commonly used to train cats to performed desired tricks and refrain from unpleasant behaviors. This is commonly used by cat behaviorists.

Do you think cats are smart? What is the smartest thing your cat has done? Have your cats learned some desirable or undesirable behaviors from you. Please weigh in on the discussion and share your thoughts and stories.


2 responses to “Cats are smart, learn fast & can remember forever”

  1. Jobi and Fisher Avatar
    Jobi and Fisher

    I love this article, BJ. My favorite part is that cat brains are more similar to human brains. I have always felt in sync with my cats and now I know why it is so easy to communicate with them.

    1. BJ Avatar

      I think our kitties are kind of human, and I know for sure that mine let me know what they think.

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