Cats are considered one of the most intelligent animals. You can teach them how to do tricks, and even potty train them. But how smart is a cat really?

Some tests have shown that cats can understand up to 35 words and gestures. They can also count to four and remember where they hid their food. 

Cats are very creative problem solvers. One study showed that when they were presented with a puzzle box with a hidden treat, they could figure out how to open it 85% of the time. Let’s learn more about cat intelligence:

The Feline Brain — A Cat Is One Sharp Cookie

A cat’s brain is around two inches long and weighs between 0.85–1.06 oz. It makes up around 0.91% of the cat’s full body mass.

The cat brain isn’t as large as the brain of other animals, but it has a high number of neurons. I’m talking about 250 million neurons, while the human one has about 100 billion.

The high neuron count gives cats the ability to process information quickly. Cat memory is also great. Studies have shown that our furry friends can remember important information up to 16 hours later.

A Cat’s Brain Is Similar to Ours — Coincidence?

Some people believe that cats’ high intelligence is due to their brain structure being similar to ours.

Like humans, cats have evolved to be great hunters. Their brains have developed in a way that allows them to make decisions quickly. And just like us, cats have a:

  • Cortex — the thinking part of the brain
  • Cerebellum — controls movement
  • Cerebral cortex — problem-solving area
  • Hypothalamus — responsible for hunger, thirst, and mating

So, how smart is a cat compared to a human? There’s no straight answer, but the brains’ structure and surface folding area are 90% similar.

Do Cats Have Long-Term Memory?

Absolutely! Cats have a fantastic long-term memory. They can remember people they love, those that feed them, and even people that irritate them. Cats can hold a grudge, so try your best to stay on their good side.

Do Cats Have Object Permanence?

Object permanence is the ability to remember an item even if it goes out of sight. Cats have it; you’ll know this if you’ve ever kicked your kitty’s toys under the bed. They’ll sit and wait for the toy or try to get to it even if they can’t see it. 

How Cats Learn

Cats learn best by observing and copying the behavior of others. For example, when a kitten plays with its mom, it learns how to hunt and interact with other cats.

Cats also learn through trial and error. If they try something that works, they’ll remember how to do it the next time. If it doesn’t, they won’t repeat it.

Cats’ Intelligence May Have Helped Them Survive

So, how smart are house cats? Their ancestors first started living with humans around 10,000 years ago. At that time, humans began using tools and developing new technologies.

Cats’ intelligence may have helped felines survive by making them better at hunting and scavenging. They could also understand some human gestures and words, which would have helped them get food and shelter from their human companions.

Are some cats smarter than others?

Yes, the Siamese, Savannah, Burmese, Scottish Fold, and Cornish Rex are some intelligent cat breeds that will surely impress you.

small cat playing with pink cat toys

How to Tell if Your Cat Is Smart

Check if your cat can differentiate you from someone else by voice, learn new tricks easily, and find objects without seeing them. These are all signs that your kitty has a high IQ. 

But if your cat belongs to one of the breeds below, you shouldn’t doubt its brain.

How to Make Your Cat Smarter

There are a few ways to do this. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Food puzzles
  • Teaching them new tricks
  • The classic mouse on a string
  • Keeping them physically

The last point is especially important as it’ll maintain your pet’s optimum brain health.

Cat Breeds That Are Sharp as a Tack

If we look at cat intelligence by breed, some are more intelligent than others. For instance, the Siamese, Burmese, and Cornish Rex are brilliant.

But intelligence isn’t just about how well a cat can learn tricks. It also includes how well they can solve problems and how adaptable they are. 

So even if your cat can’t do a cartwheel, they may still be smart in their own way.


The Abyssinian is a domestic cat breed that originated in the Horn of Africa. These cats are known for their intelligence and playful personalities.

Abyssinian cats are very active and curious. They love to explore their surroundings, so a floor-to-ceiling cat climbing pole is a great option to keep them occupied. Cat intelligence facts show they’re also quick learners, and you can train them to do tricks.

They make great pets for people who want a high-energy cat that’s also easy to train. Abyssinian cats are typically healthy and long-lived, with an average lifespan of around 15 years.


Savannah cats are among the largest domestic breeds. They’re a cross between a domesticated house cat and a Serval, a wildcat species from Africa. They typically weigh between 10 and 20 pounds, which is quite big. 

These cats have a long, slender body, large ears, and a short, sleek coat. Savannah cats come in various colors, including:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Grey
  • White
  • Tabby

They’re often crossed with other breeds to create new hybrids, such as the Bengal cat.

So, how smart is a cat of this breed? It’s pretty smart and active. Savannah cats are incredibly agile and playful. Also, they enjoy learning. You can teach them to do tricks and even walk on a leash. They’re very adaptable and can thrive in both indoor and outdoor settings.

This breed may need more food, but don’t fret. An electronic feeder for cats can help keep the hungry grumbles at bay while you’re at work.

Scottish Fold

This gorgeous breed is highly popular, with its round face, folded ears, and large eyes. These cats are curious, smart, and an absolute dream to look at. 

The Scottish Fold gets its name from its unique folded ears caused by a gene mutation. But not all of these kitties have it. You’ll have to wait for the 3–4th-week mark before signs of folding ears appear. 

While these kitties love lazing around in funny positions, they also need quite a bit of stimulation to match their inquisitive nature. Kitty playgrounds are a great option for this breed, especially if you want to stimulate their cat IQ.

Generally, the Scottish Fold draws close to one human, so if you want to find out if cats remember their owners, look no further than this sweet breed.

 cornish rex cat up close

Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex is a domestic cat that was first bred in Cornwall, England. These cats are typically about 10 inches tall and weigh between 6 and 10 pounds. 

They have a thin, muscular body and long legs. Also, you’ll meet them in various colors, including black, white, tabby, and calico.

Cornish Rex cats are known for their intelligence. They’re often described as “dog-like” in their behavior. 

These cats are quick learners, so you can teach them to perform tricks, like playing fetch or walking on a leash. They’re also active and love playing with toys or chasing around a laser pointer.

Balinese Cats

Balinese Cats are among the breeds that display signs of intelligence in cats. They’re very playful and enjoy interacting with their humans.

These long-haired cats have a moderate body build. They come in many colors, including seal, blue, and lynx points. Also, they’re very active and like to stay busy.

Balinese Cats make excellent pets. They’re affectionate and love to cuddle, but they’ll also keep you entertained for hours.

Burmese Cats

Burmese cats originated in Southeast Asia. They’re typically medium-sized cats with a sleek, athletic build and short hair. 

Burmese cats are known for their intelligence and social nature. They’re also among the most vocal cat breeds, often engaging in long conversations with their owners. Burmese cats make good pets for families with children.

Bengal Cats

Bengal cats are bred from hybrid crosses between domestic cats and the wild Asian Leopard Cat. This resulted in a breed with many of the markings and features of the leopard cat. That includes spots and rosettes on the fur, as well as a sleek and muscular build.

Some evidence suggests that Bengals are indeed smart cats. For example, they’re often quick to learn how to open doors and windows and can be very adept at problem-solving. Bengals also tend to be very playful and curious, which are both signs of intelligence in cats.


Korat cats are medium-sized, short-haired, and known for their intelligence. They were first bred in Thailand and are named after the Korat province. These cats are prized for their sleek coats, bright green eyes, and brilliant personalities.

Many people believe that cats aren’t very smart, but Korat cats disprove that theory. They’re very good at problem-solving and can learn tricks easily. 

Korat cats make great companions and are known for being loving and affectionate. If you’re looking for a high cat IQ, look no further than this breed.

Singapura cat

The Singapura is a small, slender cat with short hair. It’s typically dark brown, with lighter markings on the face, chest, and paws. These cats are believed to have originated in Singapore, hence their name.

Singapuras are among the smartest breeds of cats. They can figure out how to get what they want and can be very active. They make excellent pets for people who can dedicate plenty of time to their furry companion.

Singapuras are also very good at catching rodents, so if you have such a problem in your home, they may be the perfect pet.

Havana Brown Cat

Havana Brown cats are medium-sized, short-haired, and, as you can guess, with a brown coat. These cats are smart and often described as “sly.” They get along well with children and other pets. Also, they love to play games

Havana brown cats make excellent pets, but like all cats, they require a lot of attention and care. If you’re willing to put in the time, they’ll make a great addition to your family.

The All-Time Debate: Cats vs Dogs — Which Is More Intelligent?

We must consider many factors when trying to answer this question, including how each animal is bred and how they’re raised.

There are some obvious signs that cats are smart creatures. You can teach them how to do tricks, and they’re very resourceful in getting what they want. For example, cats know how to open cabinets and doors to get into the kitchen or bathroom.

Our feline friends are also very good at hiding from predators and are agile climbers. Cats have been known to jump onto high shelves and even trees to escape danger.

Dogs aren’t as agile as cats and aren’t as good at hiding from predators. But they’re bred to be human companions, so they’re typically more social than cats. Also, they have a strong sense of loyalty to their owners, which is something cats don’t always show.

In the end, how smart is a cat vs a dog? It’s hard to say which animal is smarter. Each has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. But it’s clear that cats are intelligent creatures that can do some amazing things.

Wrap Up

So, how smart is a cat? Pretty darn smart! They can understand complex commands, solve puzzles, and remember important information. 

The next time your cat looks at you with those big eyes, know that it’s not just trying to get food. It’s also trying to communicate with you. 

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