How smart are cats?

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The intelligence level of a domestic cat is on par with that of chimps and monkeys. Cats are capable of reasoning and problem solving. They have good memories, and are adaptable. They learn by both observation and imitation, with trial and error attempts leading them to modify their behavior until they get the desired result.

It is not right, however, to apply human standards of intelligence to creatures who live in the world and interact with it in ways so vastly different from our own. Animal intelligence is closely linked to the environment any given creature inhabits. They excel at the things that ensures their survival and the propagation of their species.

If a dog and a cat were each presented with a flock of birds, what would happen would be a perfect example of instinct in action. The dog, especially if he’s a herding breed, would instinctively try to move the group of birds around and protect them. The cat? He’s going to have a really nice lunch. Neither behavior is a measure of intelligence.

Now, isolate the cat’s behavior and watch how he locates, stalks, and kills his prey, and you will see a superb predatory intelligence at work. A cat on the prowl is a hunter with a superb tactical intuition armed with visual and aural acuities far outside our own abilities.

Put that cat in a domestic environment, and the same skills will be applied to finding the bag of food you bought and put away and that he wants. If that means opening a cabinet door to get to it? That’s what paws are for.

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