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12 of the Smartest Cat Breeds

Whether they’re rushing up to you at the rustle of a treat bag or appearing distant when it’s time to go to the vet, cats have no trouble showing us just how clever they really are.

But what does “intelligence” in cats look like? And how do we know which breeds are, indeed, the brainiest cat breeds?

“Intelligence is both the ability of the cat to learn and also apply knowledge and skills in new situations,” says Janet Cutler, PhD, CAAB, CPDT-KA, at Cat World. “In humans, intelligence is believed to be influenced by many factors, including education, environment, health, nutrition, and more. It’s very likely that a cat’s experiences and environment, as well as their health and nutrition, also affect their intelligence.”

Cutler theorizes that some breeds of cat may have retained some of their abilities that would have made them more successful in nature, and therefore, might have resulted in higher intelligence. While others, she says, could have been chosen for their ability to fit into human lives and figure out how our households and societies function, potentially leading to higher intelligence.

“It’s very possible that as we’ve been breeding cats, some have been bred to be able to learn more about how humans work, how to read and understand what we want, or how to interact with us, which we often consider when looking at intelligence,” Cutler says.

Although cat cognition and intelligence are still in their early stages, Cutler says cats have been shown to understand the concept of object permanence, quantity or amount, time, and look to people for information (e.g., observing how they’re reacting to something new and altering their behavior based on human moods).

Despite there not yet being a standardized or accurate way to truly measure the intelligence of individual cats, there may be a difference in personality traits that pet parents may favor or seek out when looking for a new forever friend.

“Certain cat breeds do seem smarter than others,” says Chryle Bonk, DVM at Senior Tail Waggers. “While there are definite differences in individuals, some breeds overall seem easier to train, can learn to do tricks, and often get bored without mental stimulation during the day. These tend to be those more active breeds like Siamese, Abyssinians, and Bengals.”

While every cat is undoubtedly brainy, below are some of the brainiest cat breeds.

12-Persian:

The Persian cat has been around for centuries, originating in the region of Persia and Iran. This breed is recognized for its long, flowing fur and endearing flat face. They are medium-sized, standing between 8 to 10 inches tall when fully grown. An adult Persian typically weighs between 8 to 15 pounds and has a life expectancy of 14 to 15 years. Despite their fancy appearance, Persian cats are healthy and strong with a muscular build that is often hidden under all that fur. These cats are intelligent and can be trained. Although they can be selective with whom they spend time with, they are great with children and other household pets and prefer a calm and quiet home.

11-Singapura:

Not all things come in big packages – just take a look at the Singapura cat breed, known for their petite size and massive amounts of personality. Even though they’re small, this kitty is undoubtedly one of the healthiest cat breeds out there. They’re active and playful, enjoying climbing up tall cat trees and engaging in mental stimulation activities like puzzle toys or clicker training. These feline extroverts will also shower you with love and affection, thriving on your attention and meowing for all the cuddles. It’s no surprise that the Singapura is a sweet and healthy companion that will undoubtedly steal your heart.

10-Bombay:

The Bombay cat is more than just a stunning and clever feline, it’s also a healthy one. With a life expectancy of 12-16 years, this midsize cat can become a long-term companion to any family looking for a kitty that is both beautiful and robust. These cats are great at keeping themselves active, and with their love for learning new tricks and solving puzzles, they are sure to stay mentally healthy too. As Dr. Andino points out, the Bombay kitty is highly trainable and motivated to display its capabilities. This makes them perfect for families who want a kitty that is easy to teach new habits or skills to. If you’re looking for a healthy and intelligent pet, the Bombay cat may just be the perfect match for you!

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