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How Intelligent Are Cats?

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In some ways, cats are like marmite; you either love them, or you’re really not a fan (hate is too strong a word – if you can honestly say you hate cats, please just stop… just stop). Cat owners will frequently argue that their four-legged friend is super intelligent, despite many claims that dogs are superior when it comes to intellect… but what if the Crazy Cat People are actually right?

That’s right! Cats are actually hella clever! A lot of scientists have confirmed that cats are just as intelligent as dogs. Vindication for Crazy Cat People! But, did you know that recent research now suggest that our Equine companions are also far smarter than you previously thought.

But if cats are so intelligent, then why hasn’t there been more mainstream research into their level of intelligence? Well, it’s not really all that surprising really – cats are known for their general aloofness for a reason, as they don’t hold it back, not even when in laboratories.

So How Intelligent are Cats, Then?

Well, after finally grasping the test subjects’ interests, scientists found that cats are just as intelligent as their canine counterparts. But who is more intelligent?

Whilst dogs may be trained to do jobs, like as guide dogs and sniffer dogs, unlike cats, that doesn’t mean that they are more intelligent. In fact, cats are said to have 360 million neurons, which, in 2013, was argued to be not far from twice the amount that certain dogs have! And whilst this part may not be the true indicator of how intelligent an animal may be, it is more of an indicator than that of the size of the brain (and cats have tiny little brains!).

So, what are neurons? They’re the part of the brain that processes basic information. And more specifically, scientists look at the cerebral cortex. This is the part of the brain that takes the information collected by the sensory parts of the brain and processes them to create drive the animal’s decision making.

Of course, this is only one way in which the intelligence of cats, or any animals, can be discussed. There other ways in which scientists have tests, and continue to test, the intelligence levels of different species.

Kobe University, in Japan, recently undertook a study to determine whether equines are able to communicate to humans, as opposed to vice versa – and came away with some very positive results.  

Service Cats?

This explains why you rarely, if ever, see cats in job roles like what you see dogs doing – such as police work and bomb sniffing. Whilst cats can be trained, their willingness to cooperate depends on how they’re feeling, and if they decide that an activity doesn’t have an obvious reward, then their interest greatly deteriorates.

Problem-solving is frustrating to them, which makes testing them in laboratories and training them for field work very difficult, and requires a lot more patience than it would for a dog or a horse.

We’re seeing more and more horses in the assistance animal field, from guide horses for the blind, to emotional support animals. According to Equestrian Co. horses can recognise humans emotions, they can even talk to us by by touching their muzzles to signs.

The proverb ‘curiosity killed the cat’ didn’t come out of thin air, cats innate curiosity and desire to learn has to be leant upon whilst testing them. But this largely depends on their mood.

Cats do in fact also learn from observation. Some cats figure out how to use door handles to open doors, whilst others may pick up on how to use buttons to access food. This calls back to their innate curiosity, how they will watch what others do and copy it to see if it will work for them too, and voila! Your cat has figured out how to access refrigerated water straight from the cooler on the door to your fridge!

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