How Smart Is Your Cat? And How to Make It Smarter

I have a lot of friends who have cats.  And, a lot of friends with dogs.  Dog owners talk about the brilliant things that their dog has just done with them or for them.  Cat owners, not so much.  Their discussions seem to be more about how crafty their cat is around the house or in the yard when they are out.  But do these different behaviors show different levels of intelligence?  Let’s see.

Researches study cat intelligence and conclude (as you already know) that cats are very intelligent.

  • Cats have incredible memories. They know what time to get up every morning, like an alarm clock.  If you have multiple cats, each one will know where his bowl is and will sit at that bowl to wait for breakfast.
  • Cats are survivalists. A cat can be outside for days and come back fat and happy.  A dog will come back tired and hungry.
  • Cats don’t have owners. They will share their space with you, and let you feed and entertain them, but they’re definitely independent.
  • Cats really alert you when there is “change” going on. They don’t adapt well to differences or newness.  They like their routine and sometimes even get ill from change.
  • When your cat sees the cat carrier, they run and hide. They know what the carrier means!

But, cats don’t typically sit, or stay, or shake hands.  So, are dogs smarter?  Well, I’m going to suggest that we tend to make dogs look a little smarter than cats.

  • We don’t ask as much of a cat as we do a dog. We allow our cats to do whatever they want to do.  It’s OK if they can’t do tricks. There are few expectations of cats.  If they come to you, that’s nice – if they don’t come to you, that’s just a cat.
  • If you see a cat on TV, you should know that it has been trained, just like a dog or a horse has, to sit in a particular place, rub up against someone on command, or look at someone in a particular way. So, they’re definitely smart enough to be paid actors.

So, it’s probably pretty clear that cats ARE smart.  The two questions for you:  WHY do you want your cat to be smarter and HOW can you make your cat smarter. Here are some answers:


  • You want your cat to be smarter so that she can stay alert and engaged.
  • Staying alert and engaged helps your cat to remain healthy. The brain is alert.  The body stays toned, fit and strong.  The cat will probably live longer.


  • Spend at least 5 minutes of quality teaching time with your cat each day. No more than 5 minutes at a time if you want to do two sessions a day.
  • Play with toys doing a fetch activity. They will learn this very quickly.  You can use a pipe cleaner that you have twisted or a ball of paper – no need for expensive toys.
  • Have a window for your cat to look outside and see interesting things. Front of the house, in front of a bird feeder, where children are playing are perfect.  Whatever engages your cat’s brain will be valuable.
  • Play hide-and-seek. Of course your cat will be great at this, but the point is that he is engaged and active.

If you started reading this thinking my cat is smart, and smart enough, I hope this has given you a new view on your cat and you will strive to make your cat smarter and healthier.


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