Smarty Cat: A Closer Look at Feline Intelligence
They’ve been around us for millennia, and yet, we aren’t that much closer to understanding cats. To be sure, there’s far more research about the existence – and scope – of canine IQ. Most cat owners know how smart and clever their cats truly are, and luckily, the field of feline intelligence is rapidly expanding. The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital have the scoop!
Alone and Aloof?
Cats have a reputation for being content when solitary. Sure, many cats aren’t as, say, demanding, as their canine counterparts. However, they not only need interaction, they truly thrive while in the company of others. Being social is integral for their overall health and wellbeing, but cats don’t necessarily rely on humans when they can’t solve a problem. Perhaps, at the core of feline intelligence, is the ability to be utterly and completely self-reliant.
Cats vs. Dogs
Feline intelligence benefits the people who love or care for cats, but it could be argued that not enough has been done to develop their skills and abilities for mankind’s benefit. There are, after all, working dogs, service dogs, seeing eye dogs, and hunting dogs that are all trained to behave and perform specific tasks.
Dogs have larger brains, but cats have twice as many neurons in their cerebral cortex (the part of the brain that holds memory and learning ability). Since they have the “tools” to process information far better than dogs, feline intelligence could be the next frontier.
The Human-Cat Bond
It’s well-documented that cats are sensitive to human moods, but did you know that cats are actually less likely to approach someone who’s sad or upset? Instead, research indicates that cats are drawn in by outgoing or extroverted people.
Owners of cats can attest to the fact that their pet definitely pays attention to them. Whether it’s head-butting, kneading, or communicating in other ways (think purring or meowing), domesticated cats are smart enough to know who their “person” is and all the ways to show them affection.
Other proof of feline intelligence lies in their understanding of object permanence, or the ability to remember the placement of things even when out of sight. Undoubtedly, cats understand that just because something isn’t present at one time, it’s not permanently absent or lost.
That being said, however, cats do experience varying degrees of separation anxiety when their owners leave. Feline intelligence must definitely hinge on their attachment to the people who care for them.
Understanding Feline Intelligence
Cats can be trained (think about the litter box, toilet training, crate training, leash training, and other various tricks), they’re lovable and snuggable, and they’re downright clever when it comes to solving problems. Plus, they’re physically incredible (all the jumping, leaping, pouncing, etc.)!