Many breeds of felines could fall under the banner of “most intelligent cat breed.” Although there is no official cat IQ test, experts have identified that the cerebral cortex in the cat’s brain, (the area responsible for rational decision making, problem-solving, language, and information), has twice as many neurons as their canine counterparts.
Pet parents of a “smarty cat” will never need science to tell them when they have a high-IQ feline on their hands – my cat’s intelligence had us securing all the cupboards with baby locks, which he quickly and proudly figured out within a few hours!
In this post, we will compare three of the most intelligent cat breeds – the Abyssinian, the Siamese, and the Turkish Van to see how they measure up.
Measuring the Cat IQ
There are five main areas science has deemed the best way to determine a cat’s sensibilities. They are;
- Trainability/Memory – to be considered the most intelligent cat breed, the feline must display trainability and the ability to retain and recall the training.
- Survival Skills – all cats are instinctive to a point; however those with higher IQs will demonstrate survival skills even when they don’t have to, such as cats which live exclusively indoors and are well-fed.
- Social – the feline species can be notoriously aloof, however, those that are more intelligent do tend to be more family, children, and stranger-friendly. Cats that greet you at the door or lay on your lap know this is the way to get attention or to be fed.
- Ability to Display Displeasure – according to studies, a smart cat will let you know when something is upsetting it. This could be articulated through hissing, meowing or caterwauling.
The following three shorthair cat breeds have earned high marks in all these areas of study; see their rating scores (out of a possible 5):
The Abyssinian Cat Breed
This long, lean, athletic cat hails from parts of southeast Asia and the coastal regions of the Indian Ocean. It was first imported into the US in the 1900s and has worked its way today, into being one of the most popular shorthair cat breeds.
The average Abyssinian cat weighs from 6 to 10 pounds and can live from 9 to 15 years-old.
The Abyssinian is one of the most trainable felines around. It can learn to play fetch, run an agility course, and practice those puzzle toys until he’s mastered the game. Nicknamed “the Aby-Grabber”, this feline’s trainability and ability to recall his lessons will keep pet parents on their toes.
Survival Skills: 5/5
This cat’s intelligence scores are high on survival skills as it is naturally athletic and loves to be up at the highest point available. Whether that be a tall cat tree, the top of the curtains, or supervising the going-on in the kitchen, nothing will escape the notice or attention of this cat breed. The Aby is also very adaptable, so if it finds itself in a jam, it will work until the solution is achieved.
The Aby loves to interact with its family members and will engage its humans in any form of play. However, its busyness doesn’t always translate into cuddly affection. Children are the Aby’s favorite pastime as they have the stamina to keep this kitty engaged all day long. If you have a dog or another cat, the Abyssinian has no problem being best pals with its furry housemates.
Ability to Display Displeasure: 4/5
With the Abyssinian’s propensity to being the center of attention, it will have no issue letting you know when something isn’t right in its world. However, if you’re waiting for loud vocalizations from this cat, you won’t get it – Abys have a soft chirrup over a raucous meow.
The Abyssinian Cat Breed’s Overall Cat IQ: 4.5
The Siamese Cat Breed
This beautiful and elegant feline originated in Thailand (formerly Siam) and was first imported into the US in 1878. This popular shorthair cat breed was first shown at the Crystal Palace Cat Show in London in the nineteenth century. One was even owned by President Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) and his wife Lucy.
The average Siamese cat weighs from 6 to 14 pounds and can live from 8 to 15 years-old.
It’s not that the Siamese isn’t trainable, but rather he may or may not choose to do as you ask or even demand – this cat breed marches to his own beat. The Siamese is an athletic animal that loves to play, explore, and get into anything he deems as exciting or new. For a happy, healthy pet, provide your Siamese with plenty of climbing posts, puzzle toys, and time with his favorite person.
Survival Skills: 4/5
The Siamese cat breed loves to climb and is very adept at doing so. In the wild, the Siamese would have no problem leaping for prey and climbing to the highest point for safety. In your home, don’t be surprised to find your Siamese climbing the drapes or pouncing from sofa to carpet to the chair.
This shorthair cat breed lives for spending time with its humans. It loves to be “helpful” and will want to be involved with everything in the home. You might even find your Siamese following you into the shower or sleeping under the blankets with his head beside yours on the pillow.
Ability to Display Displeasure: 5/5
If the ability to show displeasure were the only category to measure a cat’s intelligence, then the Siamese would win “paws down”, despite the Turkish Van Cat breed scoring the same rating.
This feline has no problem expressing its views in every sound available from grumblings to full-out caterwauling. It will let you know when you have messed up and how to fix it. To say the Siamese are opinionated, leaning towards downright demanding, is an understatement!
Overall Cat IQ: 4.5
The Turkish Van Cat Breed
This semi long haired cat breed is thought to have originated in the Lake Van area in Turkey. It is a solid cat with a thick coat suited to the rugged terrain and climate of its “birthplace.” It was brought to the US in the 1970s and was officially recognized as a breed by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1988.
The average Turkish Van cat weighs from 10 to 18 pounds and can live from 12 to 17 years-old.
The Turkish Van loves to play and can learn tricks and fetch. It is an active feline and remains so, well into its senior years. You may also find your Turkish Van perched high up on a bookshelf or cat tree, but be sure to keep your breakables out of reach – this cat has a sense of humor and may just topple them over to see what happens.
Survival Skills: 4/5
It is an athletic animal; however, graceful is not in its bag of tricks (it can be quite clumsy and may not always land on its feet). The Turkish Van loves the water and likes nothing better than to pass the time puddling in the toilet or figuring out how to turn on the faucet.
The Turkish Van lost a star due to its dislike of being held, restrained or cuddled tightly. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t social, you just have to be in this feline’s “inner circle” to receive the attention. The Turkish Van enjoys sitting quietly beside its favorite person or sleeping at the end of the bed.
Ability to Display Displeasure: 5/5
If you are ever unsure of how your Turkish Van is feeling check out his “vanometer.” If your feline friend is upset, its normally pink nose will start to turn red. When that happens take the warning and back off. The Turkish Van will also let you know when you are petting him wrong.
Overall Cat IQ: 4.25
The Smartest Cat Breed
There is no doubt when it comes to answering the question: ‘Are cats smart?’, science, studies, and pet parents all know that the feline species is intelligent. If you are delighted by the notion of having a smart cat (and think you’re up to the challenge) then choose the Abyssinian, Siamese, or the Turkish Van. These felines have earned their place in the category of the most intelligent cat breed.