Cat intelligence: can a cat be considered intelligent?

Can We Consider That A Cat Is Intelligent?

For centuries, man believed himself to be the only living being endowed with intelligence. We now know that this is not the case. And if it is still difficult to define it clearly, a scientific consensus now exists around the fact that animals are also intelligent, to different degrees. But what about our small domestic felines in particular? Can a cat be considered intelligent?

Defining Animal Intelligence

Giving a unanimous definition of intelligence is not an easy thing. Scientists themselves do not all agree among themselves and depending on whether we look in one dictionary or another, definitions vary.

For some, it is the faculty of knowing and understanding things, for others, it is the faculty of adapting to a situation, of choosing one’s actions according to the circumstances or, it would be the faculty of organizing reality into thoughts (for men) and actions (for men and animals).

Faced with the difficulty of laying down clear bases on this concept, it is easy to understand that defining animal intelligence is just as complex, because here again, there is not really a universal definition.

Animal Intelligence In History

Knowing if the animal is intelligent occupies the man since antiquity and continues to be the subject of much research. Thus, Aristotle attributed to them a certain practical intelligence, Descartes saw them as machines obeying their instincts and it was Darwin who opened the door more widely to the concept of animal intelligence, from 1890, in “The expression of emotions in man and animals”.

And until the beginning of the 20th century, most studies of animal intelligence will be conducted on the basis of human intelligence, that is, by comparing human mental abilities with those of animals.

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Animal Intelligence Today

It is only since the 1960s that we will question the relevance of measuring animal intelligence according to our own.

Because if man, for example, has actually been able to develop a machine capable of sending him to the moon to satisfy his thirst for knowledge (but let’s also say it, to respond to a particular geopolitical context), for the cat who will never need to go there, the question will never arise.

Therefore, what consistency would there be in comparing the capacities of a human to those of an animal?

Fortunately, for the past thirty years there has been a fairly broad consensus around the fact that all animals are smart because they all develop particular and variable capacities, according to their particular objectives and needs.

Good to know : in 2018, the journalist Yolaine de la Bigne, created the World Day of Animal Intelligences. It also runs a website dedicated to this theme.

The Intelligence Of The Cat

Compared to dogs, studies on cat behavior are few, although they have tended to increase in recent years. But one thing is already certain. If intelligence is measured in terms of the ability to learn, understand and solve problems, then one can undeniably say that cats are smart.

They Are Able To Learn And Memorize

We tend to think, wrongly, that cats are not good at learning, compared to dogs, which would naturally be better at it.

Besides the fact that comparing two different species doesn’t make much sense, cats are just as capable learn and memorize, depending on their motivation.

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In 2016, a study published in the “Journal of Comparative Psychology”, highlighted that there was no difference between the ability of a cat and that of a dog to find hidden food when it was indicated to them by human gestures that had been taught to them beforehand.

Your cat has learned that it gets food when it positions itself in front of its bowl while meowing in a certain way. Just as he knows that the door will be opened to him if he stands in front of the garden door. These behaviors are not spontaneous. He has experienced them, learned them and memorized them from your contact and he reproduces them, according to his needs.

They are able to understand and reason

A 2019 Japanese study evaluated a cat’s ability to recognize its name among a 5-word utterance. And the results showed that the cats were able to distinguish their names among other spoken words, even when it was not in the voice of humans familiar to them.

If cats are able to understand certain words, or more likely to identify and associate sounds, they are also capable of reasoning to solve a problem.

For example, when your cat wants to access his bowl which is in the kitchen, but the door is closed, he knows that he will only be able to access it when the door is open. He will then ask you to get you to open the door (some cats will even open it themselves). By this attitude, he demonstrates his capacity for reasoning, by managing to solve the problem that arises to him.

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Cultivate The Intelligence Of The Cat

We have seen that cats are intelligent. But even more interestingly, it is quite possible to cultivate one’s intelligence and develop it.

In the same way as for us, the environment in which it evolves, the social interactions and the stimulations are likely to develop and increase the cognitive faculties of the cat.

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