For as long as I can remember I have heard that dogs are much smarter than cats.
However, I have felt that just because a dog will do tricks and most cats do not, is not reason enough to say cats are not smart.
My theory has always been that cats are so smart that they will not learn any tricks unless they want to.
It is not something they have to do.
Dogs by nature are social animals and their main goal in life besides eating, is to please their people.
Cats on the other hand lack the "gene" that makes it important to please anyone, but themselves.
Why have I brought this subject up?
Well I read an article that discussed feline intelligence in Cat Watch, a magazine put out by Cornell's School of Veterinary Medicine.
It went on to say, at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, researchers have found that the structure of a cat's brain and that of a human brain are very similar.
To quote the article "the physical structure of our brain and that of cats are very similar: they have the same lobes in the cerebral cortex (the seat of intelligence) as we do. Our brains function the same way, conveying data via identical neurotransmitters . "
What that means, is our cats take in data from the 5 senses and process it just like we do.
Hmmmmm, thinking cats. Who would ever believe that?
But, it is true, cats process things in a way similar to our way of thinking. They actually make decisions.
Animal Discovery.com says that cats are: "incredibly resourceful and self-reliant, the species has survived thousands of years in radically different environments and living conditions. Even domestic cats show a crafty, strong-willed and versatile nature."
There is so much about cats that we take for granted or if the truth be known, we do not even think about.
When we see a cat sitting in a doorway or staring off into space, we just laugh at it, not realizing that the cat is actually thinking about what it is going to do next.
The cat is surveying the situation, using its 5 senses to determine whether it is safe or not to move onward.
We think of a cat as a somewhat anti-social animal because it is solitary by nature, but cats can adapt to conditions just as we do.
"The fact that a cat can adapt to different situations is a sign of intelligence, that goes beyond conditioning or instinct," says Dr. Julia Albright of Cornell's Veterinary School.
Cats do socialize with each other, if the situation warrants it: such as meeting at an eating or drinking place (the barn, fishing pier or where someone feeds stray cats.)
Did you know that domesticated female cats and lions are the only two species of cat that will raise their young in a group with other mothers, if it is necessary?
Cats also learn by observation.
Just because kitty is sitting there staring into space does not mean it is daydreaming. It may be learning, by watching you, how to open the cupboard door.
Kittens that are raised without their mother or other cats to observe, do not do a lot of things we consider normal behavior for cats.
Cats also retain memory, they are smart enough to know when they are scolded not to do that behavior in front of you again. They will wait until your back is turned.
Dogs on the other hand will repeat a bad behavior several times, before it finally sinks in that they are not supposed behave that way.
We will all agree that dogs are easier to train to do tricks than cats, but dogs have the predisposition to please and learning tricks is one way to please.
Cats can learn tricks, but it is harder to get them to do things, unless you provide a reward that is really appealing.
There is also the thought that dogs have been selectively bred for certain behaviors, cats have been cats forever.
There has not been a time when a cat has been selectively bred to hunt, catch birds or play only with blue yarn balls.
I agree that the particular breeds of cat have been kept as pure as possible, but have you ever heard of a cat species being bred to do a chore such as "rounding up mice."
In truth I guess it is impossible to say which species is smarter, dogs or cats, but I will leave you with this thought, "dogs have masters, cats have staff."
Need I say more?