Why does everyone think cats are not smart? Their short-term memory and emotional intelligence are unbeatable

Hangai Lilla

2023. January 7 - Source: Photos by Getty Images Hungary

It might seem extreme at first, but we have a theory about why cats are thought to be unintelligent. In our opinion, this idea is simply rooted in the fact that less obedient, independent individuals are easily stigmatized with the burden of a low intelligence quotient. Although it is triggered by something that we do not understand, the reaction to it may be an objection.


More and more research is being done on cats, which finally reveals the fascinating world of their intelligence and brain. So let’s see how smart these purring, mustachioed troublemakers really are!

A small but complex brain

If they could speak, the could rightly say: good things come in small packages. A cat’s brain is only 0.9% of its body weight, compared to 1.2% in dogs and 2% in humans. But their brains are structurally complex; almost as much as ours.

One oft-cited study is by neurologist Suzana Herculano-Houzel, which looked at the number of neurons in the cat’s brain. According to research estimates, there are roughly 250 million neurons in the cerebral cortex of our pets, which makes them exceptionally smart.

In comparison, the human brain has 16 billion neurons, while dogs have 400-600 million neurons. But that doesn’t mean cats aren’t smarter than dogs. We also show what they excel at!

Memory and empathy make them unbeatable

A behavioral experiment showed that cats can remember where a bowl of food was hidden for 16 hours. The dogs were usually enthusiastic about something else after 5 minutes. This is probably why we see them as more persistent and, in some cases, offended or angry.

One of the things that sets humans apart from most animals is our ability to infer what other people are thinking and feeling based on nonverbal cues.

A study has shown that cats can also respond to human cues, such as pointing. According to cat experts, our furry friends continue to hone this skill as they age, so older cats know when to snuggle and when it’s more rewarding to leave us alone.

Unlike dogs, they are not motivated by social or owner recognition, and they can be more easily frustrated. This is a further evidence that high intelligence is usually associated with sensitivity.

The nagging question remains: are dogs or cats smarter?

According to a 2009 study, cats are not as good at counting or identifying quantities of things as dogs or fishes. However, another study found that cats can solve puzzles, but unlike dogs who ask their owners for help, they keep trying until they solve the task on their own.

Many dog lovers believe that dogs’ ability to help humans with various tasks makes them smarter than cats. Although there are no guide cats or police cats, there were mail delivery kitties! At the end of the 19th century, the Belgian Society for the Rise of the Domestic Cat briefly used cats to send messages from one settlement to another.

The experiment involved 37 cats and placed the messages in waterproof bags and attached them around their necks. The fastest cat reached the finish line in less than 5 hours, and the others in all cases within 24 hours. As the pigeons were faster the service were discontinued, but we bet they weren’t nearly as cute!

When you take into account these special abilities, this unique attitude and their fantastic looks, maybe it’s not so important how smart they are or if they are smarter than dogs. Like us humans, they are also outstanding in other ways; let’s simply enjoy the fact that they chose us as their companion and admire them whenever we have a few free minutes.

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