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Sheryl Nantus
12-18-2006, 05:41 PM
I'm just wondering if anyone's actually done a study to see how intelligent cats are...

my tabby, Mitchell, who I referred to in an earlier thread (doing a LOT better; thanks to all who offered suggestions) has what I can only call a heck of an imagination.

when he arrived as a kitten he took to some catnip mice that we had about the house - soft and furry without much actual body - the ones you stuff with the catnip and then restuff when it all falls out.

well, the little boy decides that it's his new best friend and starts to carry it around with him - maneuvers it into his mouth with his paw and carries it around. Toss it for him he brings it back to you like a dog!

then he gets smarter - since we have a plethora of them around (we call them "Georges" after the "I'll hug you and squeeze you and call you George" cartoon phrase) suddenly he's putting them in front of/in the dry food dish. Then the water dish. Then in front of the litter box. Then back to the food dish.

I'm not sure if this is a sign of great intelligence or quite the active fantasy life. My hubby thinks he's a darned smart cat because he's imagining the Georges to be alive and is doing his part to feed and care for them.

so... are cats that smart or...

???

your thoughts?

Little Red Barn
12-18-2006, 05:47 PM
I think cats are intelligent creatures. We once had an artificial Dogwood tree, with thousand of petals on it...Our cat managed to take every petal off. It took her 6 years. She would do the same as your cat, even go further by gifting our dog's water bowl with a petal every now and again. I once had an old tom that I taught to use a human toilet...
All creatures amaze me.
:)

alleycat
12-18-2006, 05:54 PM
I'm not sure, but they seem to have domesticated humans and get to sleep all day.

MidnightMuse
12-19-2006, 02:46 AM
Never underestimate the power of a cat's mind.

There haven't been any good studies done on domestic cats since the 70's, and that one was pretty lame. But over my years in the veterinary field, I learned to believe any and every story owners told me about their cats. And their dogs, too.

Cats have the intelligence of the average 2-year old human child, and there are exceptions both above and below :D

truelyana
12-19-2006, 02:49 AM
Just as smart as you Sheryl

Sheryl Nantus
12-19-2006, 02:56 AM
Just as smart as you Sheryl

in that case...

he's an ijiot.

:ROFL:

truelyana
12-19-2006, 02:56 AM
:) whatever you think heehee

Scarlett_156
12-19-2006, 03:00 AM
Like humans and most other animal species, cats are often greater than the sum of their parts. Their brains are quite small, but I've seen them demonstrate what I would term to be reasoning capability. There's certainly no question that they are adaptable and resourceful.

Marlys
12-19-2006, 03:50 AM
My mother had a cat who could open dresser drawers by patiently working her paw into one side of the drawer, then the other, pulling it out a little more each time. Not only did she do this herself, she taught the other cats in the house how to do it.

Once, when my mom went off on vacation, leaving this cat in charge of the house (except for brief visits by a friend who came to feed them), she returned to find all of the stuffed animals that usually sat on top of her dresser lined up by the door, awaiting her return. Or possibly as an offering to get her to come home...

TheIT
12-19-2006, 04:01 AM
My cat Sparky will play fetch. If I throw a toy, he'll bring it back a couple of times for me to throw again, then he'll go chase the toy and stand there staring at me as if expecting me to get up and get it.

I also think he's part raccoon. Not only does he drop his toy next to the water dish, I'll also find toys floating in the water. It gets messy when he drops one end of the string in the bowl and the water wicks into a puddle on the floor.

Unique
12-19-2006, 04:06 AM
Cats are incredibly intelligent. They can even count.

One Christmas Eve, my sister and her fiancee came to our house to celebrate. We exchanged gifts and had some cookies and talked. During this time we had to let the cat out for his constitutional.
When they got ready to leave, we turned on the porch light and there in the snow on the back step was a mouse for each of us. All neatly in a row.

I know cats can count. That's why I always divide the treats evenly.

ChunkyC
12-19-2006, 04:46 AM
My tabbies are wicked smart.

I have to keep the door to my home office closed because they get into everything. One day my wife told me Casey was trying to open the door to get in. We have never ever tried to show them how to do it. It's a round doorknob, and he was on his hind legs with a paw on each side of the knob, trying to turn it. How else would he figure it out other than watching us do it? He knew that round thing had to be rotated before he could go into the room where I was, and so he tried.

His brother Finnigan turns the lights on in the room where we keep the litter box if we don't clean it out quickly enough for his liking.

They both know that reflections in mirrors are just that: if we hold something up behind them when they're facing the mirror, they immediately turn around and go for it.

They can tell time (not by reading a clock, but by some innate sense). Casey always starts trying to wake me up about ten minutes before my alarm is set to go off. They even know what day it is: I give them a certain treat that's good for their teeth on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings when I get up ... and on those days and those days only, they are sitting waiting by the cupboard where I keep them when I come into the room.

I love cats. :)

MidnightMuse
12-19-2006, 04:59 AM
They have a killer sense of the surreal, too.

One day, a few years ago, my dad and stepmother were visiting. My stepmother is this very tall woman, with flaming red (bottled) hair, and she despises animals. My father loved cats with a passion.

So there they are, my stepmother sitting on one couch, trying to ignore the cats in the house. My father on the other couch, desperately trying to get one of the cats to come to him. My cat Fable was sitting on an ottoman for two hours, staring intently at my stepmother. She never moved, just sat there staring at her.

Then she gets up, walks over to the couch, sits down beside my stepmother and just stares up at her while she's talking to us about something. Then Fable moved closer, reached out with one paw and lightly touched my stepmother, then looked at her, sighed, and walked away.

We all laughed, it was as if Fable wasn't sure if this strange woman was real or not, and had to touch her once just to find out !

Of course, all the while that's going on, one of my other cats was climbing around inside my stepmother's purse!

TheIT
12-19-2006, 05:11 AM
Tag team distraction, eh? For a snack, I sometimes eat cheese and crackers with a slice of ham or chicken breast. My cats love lunchmeat so they always get some, too, but they always want mine. As I'm holding my snack away from the cat on my lap, the cat sitting on the back of the couch makes his move. ;)

My cats have learned to notice the TV set. A friend gave me a "Kitty Adventure Video" which was six hours of pictures of birdies, squeaking mice, squirrels, etc. After about ten minutes my cats finally noticed it and sat mesmerized underneath the TV. Occasionally they'd bat at the screen as if trying to get to the squirrels. Now every time I watch something with moving animals like a dog show, they watch, too.

Marlys
12-19-2006, 06:21 AM
Tag team distraction, eh? For a snack, I sometimes eat cheese and crackers with a slice of ham or chicken breast. My cats love lunchmeat so they always get some, too, but they always want mine. As I'm holding my snack away from the cat on my lap, the cat sitting on the back of the couch makes his move. ;)

My cats have learned to notice the TV set. A friend gave me a "Kitty Adventure Video" which was six hours of pictures of birdies, squeaking mice, squirrels, etc. After about ten minutes my cats finally noticed it and sat mesmerized underneath the TV. Occasionally they'd bat at the screen as if trying to get to the squirrels. Now every time I watch something with moving animals like a dog show, they watch, too.
We got a fish tank, hoping our cat Selina would enjoy watching the fish swim. As soon as it was all set up on top of a bookcase, she trotted over and leapt up on the chair next to it, ears perked with interest. She watched the fish for a moment, then looked under the shelf the tank was resting on to see if she could get into it from below. Nope. Then she got up on her back legs to see if there was a way in from above. No, the tank was covered.

So Selina jumped down, walked away, and never looked at the fish again.

September skies
12-19-2006, 06:27 AM
i asked my cat just now, and he looked at me as if i were stupid and went back to lay down.

but seriously, my cat can open the bedroom door with her little paws. she jumps up and cups the knob and then turns the knob and pushes the door open with her little body. amazing to watch!

oarsman
12-19-2006, 06:50 AM
Cats are incredibly intelligent. They can even count.


They can do more than count.

They can do your taxes for you. (http://files.dogster.com/pix/cats/07/105607/105607_1105344766.jpg)

Post messages on AW. (http://tn3-2.deviantart.com/fs7/300W/i/2006/001/e/d/computer__cat_by_Flore_stock.jpg)

They can critique your writing. (http://www.stoneandplank.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2006/04/simbareading.jpg)

I am amazed at the patience of cats. One of mine can stare at me for long periods of time. He knows if he stares long enough, he'll get a reaction; I'll either feed him, hold him, or stare right back at him.

WildScribe
12-19-2006, 06:57 AM
My cats have had their share of adventures. My oldest cat, Malia, used to train my husband and I. Every morning when we left the house she would run at the door as if to get out, then turn and go behind the door. Once a month, like clockwork, she would make her break for freedom. And once a month, we would be relaxed enough to let her get out and have to chase her down.

shawkins
12-19-2006, 07:35 PM
A buddy of mine used to converse with his cats. They had about half-a-dozen mews that they mutually understood. There was one for "Go get me some cheese," another for "Scratch my belly" another for (no kidding) "Get that damn dog out of here."

I was in grad school studying natural language processing at the time, and I'm convinced they were actually communicating. If the cat asked for cheese and you rubbed his belly, he'd get all huffy and stare pointedly at the fridge.

"Smart" is kind of a nebulous term, though. There's no clear definition of intelligence, so it's hard to answer whether or not a particular critter has it. In practice, the word "intelligence" is more or less equivalent to "what humans do" but I don't think that's fair to animals or, come to that, machines.* For instance, large cats have positively uncanny levels of craft in hunting.

A few years ago on NPR (?) I heard about a fishing village in India that had a tiger problem. Actually, it was more of a Tiger Problem. For instance, two guys were out fishing in the river in one of those little skiffs. Guy A asked guy B to hand him the bait or whatever. Guy B didn't answer, so guy A looks around to see what's wrong. Guy B is just gone--no scream, no splash, just gone. Guy A happened to be looking in the right direction to see a tiger dragging his buddy out of the river and into the jungle about a hundred yards away.

There were zillions of stories like that. Three guys are walking through the jungle and when they turn around the one in back is gone, that sort of thing. After a while the villagers took to wearing masks on the backs of their heads to try and convince the tigers they didn't have a blind side. This only worked for a while. Last I heard they were going to abandon the village.

Ooh, and here's another one: A buddy of mine went on safari in Tanzania a couple years ago. One day they were bopping through the veldt and they came across a lion lying in the middle of the road about a hundred yards up. The tour guide stops the Land Rover so everyone could take pictures and go "ooh, aah." I saw some of the snapshots and it was quite a show. The lion was was rolling around on his back, swatting at the air, looking like nothing so much as a cute little house kitty who wanted to play. He was a good ways off, thought, plus they were shooting through a dirty windshield, so the pictures weren't great.

So my buddy tells me that one of the guys in the land rover asked the guide if he could step out of the car for a moment to get a better picture. It seemed safe enough; even if the lion in the road did a flat-out charge he was far enough away that you'd still have plenty of time to jump back in the truck. The guide looked around for a minute, then shook his head.

"Look back there" he says. They were parked next to this big rock. The light of the sun was such that you could see the shadow of a second lion hiding behind the rock, waiting for someone to get out and take pictures of his cute friend. It was an ambush, you see.

Assuming it's true--I wasn't personally there--I don't see how you could say that was anything other than "intelligent" behavior. Yeah, maybe kitty can't play chess so good, but then neither can I.

So that's craft, which I guess is one sort of intelligence. Symbolic communication, on the other hand, seems to be most developed in pack animals. Barry Lopez wrote a book called Of Wolves and Men that is, among other things, a fascinating survey of smart wolf stories.

If you're really curious about animal intelligence, you could do a lot worse than studying dogs. I've got four of the furry little bastards, and I'm constantly amazed at the depths of their comprehension. For instance, when my Mom comes to visit, she always brings them something from McDonalds. About a year ago I noticed that they would camp out on top of the stairs waiting for her when she was coming to visit. The only thing I can think of is that they're somehow picking it up from my half of the phone conversations, but I'm darned if I can figure out exactly how. It can't be anything as simple as the sound of her voice, because they only sit their vigil when Mom is actually visiting; hi-how-you-doing conversations don't generate this response.

#------

* Did you guys know that the reigning world chess champion is a machine? I mean, whoa.

truelyana
12-19-2006, 07:43 PM
Animals are not separate from us, they are our equal

ChunkyC
12-19-2006, 08:31 PM
Animals are awesome. It's just a different order of intelligence.

My cat Fable was sitting on an ottoman for two hours, staring intently at my stepmother.
This is too funny. Reminds me of a cat I had named Fang when I was growing up. He was huge, 28 pounds, orange with a white belly. My mom used to joke that she was going to get him made into a pyjama bag when he passed on.

Anyway, mom's new friend, who claims to be deathly afraid of cats, nonetheless comes over to our place for a visit for the first time. Sure enough, Fang does just what your cat did, midnight, he gets up on the sofa beside this poor lady and stares at her.

Of course, we all know Fang is the stereotypical pussycat. All he wants is your attention, he never took a swipe at anyone in his life. But here he is, all 28 pounds of him, staring at her like she's a steak. Poor lady is sitting there frozen. Then -- ever so slowly -- he puts a paw on her leg, then climbs onto her lap and rubs his head under her chin.

The look on her face was priceless. She reached out and patted him on top of the head, and he pushed back, of course, wanting 'rubbies.' Within minutes, she was stroking him and you could hear him purr from across the room.

We were all dumbfounded. He completely broke down her fear of cats, so much so that she just adored him and every Christmas, she'd come over to deliver a present to him personally.

Angelinity
12-19-2006, 09:01 PM
I always talk to my pets as if they were people -- I ask them questions, like 'would you prefer tuna this morning?' or, 'don't you want to sit on the terrace with me?'. I ask them to do or not do certain things, like 'I don't want you to sit on these papers, I need them for work' or 'come and sit on my lap.' Comprehension varies with each one -- some are naturally smarter than others.

I have lived with my current kitty for some seven years, and she has a working vocabulary. We converse daily - she understands most of it (and is bilingual). When she's angry with me she will actually 'shout' while looking me in the eyes.

Generally, I think pets, cats included, are pretty smart. They learn new skills whether you teach them or not, but will learn better and faster if you treat them like individuals and allow them to 'feel smart' / important -- just like humans do.

They understand more than we humans give them credit for. My cat knows I'm about to go on a trip even before I start packing -- she listens in on my conversations. I always make sure I tell her how long I'll be gone and who's going to be taking care of her while I'm away. I treat her with love and respect, and she responds in kind.

It breaks my heart when I see or hear of people mistreating pets -- as much as it does when I see or hear of people mistreating each other.

But on the topic of cat 'smarts', I have encountered and had quite a few felines who were so wrapped up in 'being just cats', that they never learned a single trick. They're all different, as people are different -- some, more physical; while others, more 'intellectually' inclined.

sharra
12-19-2006, 09:42 PM
I had a couple of cats who absolutely adored a certain brand of dry cat food - which also happened to be the most expensive one on the market. They'd eat the nastiest canned stuff, but the dry one had to the one with the multicoloured shapes and the purple stripes on the box.
Being exceedingly broke one week, I bought a cheap version. They took one look at the box & refused to eat.
After that I used to transfer the cheap stuff into the expensive packaging. They'd be very suspicious - I'd have to hold the box up to show them - but would eventually eat.
Never had a stupid cat. Crazy, yes. Stupid..no. Stupid is not a survival mechanism; odds are you won't get many cats that are stupid.

endless
12-20-2006, 10:19 PM
There are an awful lot of animal 'experts' out there who are more than willing to expound on the intelligence of dogs and cats. They will equate intelligence with the ability to learn what we desire to teach them.
If you want to truly discuss the intelligence of animals, you have to divorce yourself from what humans consider 'intelligence' and look at what the animal needs to learn to cope with its environment successfully.
Cats (and dogs) are survivors in the wild. They adapt quickly to living with, and using, humans. Both species are manipulators and learn how to use themselves to get what they want.
I feel that both are intelligent and have active imaginations. Play is necessary for young creatures to learn how to live in their 'society,' be it solitary, with occasional meetings -- as most felines -- or in a pack, like canines. To play, you must have the ability to imagine! If you imagine, you THINK!

ChunkyC
12-21-2006, 03:20 AM
Yup! They just don't think the same way we do. As for whether they have feelings ... I saw a miniature collie sitting outside the public ladies room near where I work yesterday. An hour later, the poor thing was still there. The look of sadness on that dog's face would break your heart. As I approached, she perked up a bit, but not like a dog overjoyed to see you. I swear this dog was asking me to either get her master out of the room, or let her in. She wanted my help. It was like she was imploring me.

Amazing. Poor widdle puppy, I just wanted to pick her up and comfort her, which shows what endless says is true, they can manipulate us, and darn easily too.

Turns out the lady in the restroom was fine (a coworker checked), but I have no idea why she was in there for so long.

alices
12-21-2006, 03:43 AM
Animals are not separate from us, they are our equal They donít get involved in politics, which at some level makes them smarter.

jbal
12-21-2006, 04:27 AM
Cats are incredibly stupid. I've seen strong evidence to the contrary, which I don't feel like explaining and you don't feel like reading, but trust me, they're down there with guinea pigs.

endless
12-21-2006, 09:01 AM
And who says guinea pigs are stupid? Ever try to ignore one when he wants his "LETTUCE NOW!?"

Each animal, including us, can be just as smart or stupid as he chooses to be in certain circumstances. Also, potential tends to vary within a population.

I once had quite an interesting over-the-internet discussion with Stanley Coren about his findings on the intelligence of dogs.

oarsman
12-21-2006, 04:59 PM
And who says guinea pigs are stupid? Ever try to ignore one when he wants his "LETTUCE NOW!?"

Each animal, including us, can be just as smart or stupid as he chooses to be in certain circumstances. Also, potential tends to vary within a population.

I agree!

I think we tend to perceive an animal's intelligence through our own expectations. If an animal acts more human, we see it as more intelligent. Each animal engages the world differently. A herbivore may not seem as intelligent as a carnivore because they haven't developed the cleverness involved in hunting for food. Dogs have a tremendous sense of smell and will rely on their nose to understand the world. Guinea pigs have excellent hearing. They can hear sounds at higher frequencies than humans and have an extensive vocabulary of sounds they use to communicate with other guinea pigs and even humans. Being more of a "herd" animal, they tend to be more cautious and less willing to take chances than a dog. That might make them appear less intelligent, but I think both are intelligent in their own way of engaging the world.

Unique
12-22-2006, 03:41 AM
jbal - guinea pig - cat

pick the winner.


uh huh. that's what I thought.

endless
12-23-2006, 07:47 AM
Now, now. Don't be mean to poor jbal! He simply hasn't had the animal-life experiences that some of the rest of us have.

On herd animals: They are in herds because it is a _smart_ thing to do. Look at all those eyes, ears and noses! All on the lookout for danger, each and every one.

That's the way to survive.

On cats: Their hearing is amazing! Freda can hear a spider walking on the wall. I'm not kidding. I saw her do it.

On dogs: No breed is 'stupid' or 'smart.' While a border collie is a wonderful sheep dog that works well at what it is taught to do, a breed like an Afghan hound is much less inclined to cater to a person's whims, since it hunts on its own.

Hence the Afghan is called a dumb breed because it doesn't care what _you_ want it to do and the border is touted as an intelligent breed because it lives to work for you. Cats and Afghan hounds are tarred with the same brush a lot of the time, aren't they?

truelyana
12-23-2006, 08:04 AM
One of my cats drinks beer :D heehee

endless
12-23-2006, 08:13 AM
That's not very smart of YOU. Please have a little chat with your cat and explain to him -- or her -- that from now on he -- or she -- is the designated driver in your household. Save your cat from himself! Or herself.

My cats are both card-carrying members of CACDD (Cats Against Cats Driving Drunk)

truelyana
12-23-2006, 08:14 AM
Doesnt really matter or make any difference :D

truelyana
12-23-2006, 08:15 AM
They don’t get involved in politics, which at some level makes them smarter.

Actually they do!

endless
12-28-2006, 04:44 AM
No one here bothered to vote the last time, not even the fish....

ChunkyC
12-28-2006, 04:51 AM
My cats are smarter than some people I know.

"Whaddya mean, the guy who emailed me from Nigeria is a fake?"

I rest my case. :D

CATastrophe
01-06-2007, 09:39 AM
I always talk to my pets as if they were people...snip...They're all different, as people are different -- some, more physical; while others, more 'intellectually' inclined.

I do the same. It just amazes me for all the pets I've had, how each are so different in personality. I know my cats understand what I say and when I had dogs, they sure did, too!