We’ll probably never see a bomb-sniffing or seeing-eye cat. Though we depend on dogs to work long days and weeks in everything from battlefield conditions to in-home nursing companionship, we rarely trust cats with anything so important. That is, unless it’s being the mayor of an Alaskan village. Yes, the orange tabby, Stubbs, was the honorary mayor of Talkeetna. Is it because cats are actually incapable of the same complex tasks with which we charge our dogs? Or are we doing Garfield a disservice? Today we are exploring the limits of feline cognition and the effects of treats like EcoTreats™ Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon Filet Bits when trying to train them.
Measuring Feline Intelligence
Believe it or not, feline intelligence is nearly impossible to measure. Every time someone tries, cats turn up their nose. Turns out they aren’t actually easy to experiment on. When asked to share his feelings on the subject, Psychology scientist at Padova University, Christian Agrillo said, “I can assure you that it's easier to work with fish than cats.” Thanks to dissection and some particularly stubborn scientists, however, we do have some insight into how the feline mind works. Hint: there’s more to a cat’s mind than aloofness.
Six Things That Prove Cats Are More Than Fuzzy Masters Of Their Domain
We’re not here to debate if cats are better than dogs. Honestly, they’re both pretty awesome. And, trying to compare the two is like trying to decide whether a screwdriver or hammer is the better tool. Both animals, like screwdrivers and hammers, were designed with specific tasks in mind. Dogs were bred to be obedient and social. Cats were designed to take care of themselves and sometimes act as companions. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are a few cool indicators to help justify our cat’s haughty attitude:
Cats Have A Complex Cerebral Cortex. Though dogs have more neurons overall, cats have nearly twice as many in their cerebral cortexes. Located near the back of the skull, the cerebral cortex is responsible for rational decision-making, language, and information processing. As the most developed part of the brain, its complexity is often a good indicator of an animal’s overall intelligence.
They Can Make Over 100 Distinct Sounds. Cats make use of chirps, hisses, and growls to effectively communicate their emotions. They hiss when upset, trill when pleased, and purr when content. Sometimes they purr when in distress, but that’s covered in, “Cat Communication: Are You Listening?” This wide range of vocal sounds far exceeds the range found in dogs. Scientists have also concluded that cats change their ‘language’ to suit their surroundings. Meows, for example, are never seen outside of cat-on-human communications.
Cats Understand Cause and Effect. A study by Kyoto University concluded that cats have a rudimentary understanding of logic and physics. When exposed to a test that did not follow natural laws, the cats were much less interested in playing along.
They Have A Keen Memory. A study on feline behavior revealed that cats have a memory that rivals some humans. They can not only remember where food was hidden up to 16 hours later but have also been shown to have a sense of object permanence. This is why our feline friends come running the second they hear the buzz of a can opener.
Their Problem-Solving Skills Are on Par with Some Primates. Cats put all that retained information to good use when it comes to problem-solving. They are one of the few species able to form “learning sets.” In one study, cats were trained to pull boxes on wheels. When a treat was added just out of reach, many of the cats drug the wheeled box beneath it and used it as a stepping stool.
For those of those us who still don’t think cats can be brainiacs, watch a few clips of the Savitsky Cats. They are certainly changing the minds of thousands who previously doubted.
How to Test A Cat’s Intelligence
Not all cats are created equal. Some breeds, especially Abyssinians and Savannah cats, are more intelligent than others. To help determine where our cat sits on the intelligence spectrum, we need to ask ourselves:
What does our cat do when we open up a can of food? If they stop whatever they’re doing and rocket towards us, our cat has a pretty good episodic memory. If they don’t, they’re probably waiting for us to whip out the good stuff.
Would we worry about them surviving on their own? Particularly intelligent cats exude confidence and wiliness. More intelligent cats are able to quickly adapt to the outdoors. If we’re worried that Miss Whiskers will try to swim in a cement mixer, she might not be at the top of her class.
Has our cat learned how to do something just by watching us? Brainy felines are able to pick up new skills through observation. That’s likely how they learned to open the kitchen cabinet. The quicker a cat learns, the brainier she tends to be.
Does our cat wait for us to come home? Anecdotal evidence proves that cats have some concept of time. The more things our feline friend is able to mentally schedule, the more likely they’re a feline Einstein.
If we teach our cat a trick, do they remember it a few months later? A cat that can perform that trick without reinforcement is a pretty intelligent one. The longer they can go between sessions, the better their memory probably is. When training a cat, be sure to use the right treats. EcoTreats™ Wild-Caught Sockeye Salmon Filet Bits are straight from the waters of the Pacific Northwest. They are a good source of omega fatty acids, among other natural nutrients that support the immune system, heart, kidneys, brain, coat, and overall health, for a long, happy life.
If this article proved anything, it’s that cats are pretty intelligent creatures. While they lack the sociality of dogs, their trademark independence is proof that they deserve their spot on the couch. With above average memory and observational skills, cats are definitely ahead of the figurative pack. Even if our cat isn’t a fuzzy Einstein, we can use positive training methods to teach them a few tricks. We just shouldn’t do it wearing a lab coat. Our cat will probably know it’s an experiment and somehow turn the tables.