Cats are among the most intelligent creatures in the animal kingdom . We often fall short with the perception of the intelligence level of the cat , especially compared to dogs, but not because dogs exceed them, but because there is a greater amount of studies on intelligence, memory and cognitive abilities in dogs, and that research is not transferred to cats.
There is little research on the intelligence of cats or on how cat brains work . Part of the reason is that cats are difficult to experiment with.
Therefore, much of the information about feline intelligence comes from the anecdotes of cat owners, and from few studies conducted by scientists.
Here are 6 incredible characteristics of cats.
- They have a small brain
The brain of a human represents approximately 2% of its total body mass. The cat brain accounts for no more than 0.9% of its total mass . Compared to us humans or dogs, the cat’s brain is much smaller, but when intelligence is analyzed, size matters much less than other factors.
The cat has about 250 million cortical neurons , compared to 16 billion neurons in humans.
- They have a good long-term memory.
The cat’s short-term memory is not very developed. In a study that experimented with cats and dogs to find out how they could remember where food had been hidden, cats ‘short-term memory lasted about 16 hours , while dogs’ only lasted about five minutes.
On the contrary, the cat has a specially developed long-term memory . In fact, you can remember places and people for years . However, age or illness can affect the memory and brain function of our feline friends. In fact, it happens that older cats develop a disease similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS).
- They understand our signs and body language
A cat cannot understand the meaning of the words that are spoken. But if they understand what we mean by gestures and signs .
By the way, the cat can also learn simply by observing . For example, if your cat is looking at you, you often open the closet, he will quickly understand how to do it himself .
- They know that what is hidden has not disappeared
Some human animals and babies think that if an object disappears from their sight (hidden in a drawer, for example), it is because it has ceased to exist. Cats, on the other hand, know that it has been hidden and that it is enough to wait in the same place for it to reappear .
This concept called ” permanence of objects “ is not understood by all animals. But it is very useful for cats that can wait for their prey to come out of hiding.
If your cat has ever chased a mouse or cat toys under furniture and then lay there waiting for it to reappear, it is because cats have a sense of “object permanence . ” Researchers have shown that cats can easily solve tests to determine the permanence of objects and search for hidden objects in containers and behind obstacles where they disappeared.
- They have a certain notion of time
You may have noticed that your cat meows when it is time to eat at the same time every day, or you may know when a family member comes home. This is because it has a particularly efficient internal clock that allows it to evaluate the duration of events .
Similarly, the cat is able to assess quantities, and for example, instinctively turn to the fullest bowl of food. Scientists have found that cats can distinguish a group of two objects from another of three, and use the larger group as a signal that there is more food in it. As with object permanence, it makes sense for cats to have this mental ability if they want to maximize the amount of food they can acquire while hunting.
- They have more neurons than dogs
The cerebral cortex is part of the brain responsible for thinking and rational decision making. The cat’s brain is more complex than that of dogs, with nearly 300 million nerve cells compared to roughly 160 million in the dog.
As a curiosity, the cat’s brain is more effective than an iPad . While these tablets typically have 60 gigabytes of data storage space, a cat’s brain has approximately 91,000 gigabytes. In terms of processing speed, the iPad performs approximately 170 million operations per second, a cat’s brain can do 6.1 trillion operations per second.
It is important for cat owners to be clear about the limitation of our cats’ thought processes , since the attribution of human motivations to felines can make it difficult to solve behavioral problems.
Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years to excel in social tasks, whereas cats have not. Cats are more impulsive than dogs and have much less patience. They do not easily tolerate frustrating situations for long periods of time. If an activity is not rewarding for them, they will prefer to do something else.
A cat does not think about the past or make plans for the future. Therefore, it is useless for an owner to punish a cat for something he did even a few minutes before or on the spot, because the cat is unable to make the connection between action and punishment . Also, you should know that their actions are not motivated by revenge towards us.
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