These amazing reasons why cats are smart may surprise you!

Many pet owners quickly become aware of the reasons why cats are smart. Domestic cats are known for their intelligence, and they possess various attributes that demonstrate their cleverness. While their intelligence may not be on par with some other animals, such as dogs, they have unique qualities and behaviors that showcase their smartness.

Here are some attributes and behaviors that highlight the intelligence that demonstrate why cats are smart


1. Problems solving

Cats exhibit problem-solving skills when faced with challenges. They can figure out how to open doors, access hard-to-reach places, or even find creative ways to catch prey (like using objects as toys).

Here are some examples of the types of problems domestic cats can typically solve:

    • Obtaining Food: Cats can solve relatively simple problems related to obtaining food, such as opening cabinet doors or figuring out how to access their food bowl.
    • Opening Doors: Some cats can learn to open doors with lever handles or even push through doors that are not latched securely.

  • Puzzle Feeders: Cats can figure out how to use puzzle feeders or interactive toys that dispense treats or kibble when manipulated.
  • Hunting: Cats are natural hunters and can strategize when stalking and capturing prey, such as mice or insects.
  • Finding Hidden Objects: Cats have a keen sense of smell and can locate hidden objects or treats based on scent cues.
  • Navigating Their Environment: Cats can remember the layout of their home and navigate it effectively, including finding hiding spots or seeking shelter during adverse weather.
  • Social Problem-Solving: Cats can engage in social problem-solving within their feline hierarchies or to establish relationships with other cats or animals in their household.

However, it’s important to recognize that while cats are intelligent within their domain, their problem-solving abilities may not extend to highly abstract or complex tasks like those that dogs or primates can perform. Cats tend to excel in tasks related to their survival instincts, sensory perception, and immediate needs.

Also, individual cats vary in their problem-solving abilities. Some may be more resourceful and quick learners than others. It’s also essential to provide mental stimulation and enrichment for cats to keep their minds active and engaged, as this can help them showcase their problem-solving skills to a greater extent.

2. Curiosity:

Cats are naturally curious creatures. They explore their environment and investigate new objects, sounds, and scents. This curiosity helps them learn about their surroundings and adapt to changes.

Here are some examples of how their curiosity manifests:

  • Exploring New Environments: When introduced to a new room or outdoor space, cats often exhibit curiosity by cautiously sniffing and investigating every nook and cranny. They may explore corners, crevices, and objects they’ve never encountered before.

why cats are smart

  • Inspecting New Objects: Cats are naturally drawn to new items brought into their environment. Whether it’s a shopping bag, a box, or a piece of furniture, they will investigate by pawing at it, rubbing against it, and sometimes even crawling inside.
  • Interest in Household Activities: Cats often show curiosity about household activities. They may watch with fascination as you cook, work on a computer, or fold laundry. Some cats will even “help” by sitting on papers or trying to catch moving computer cursors.
  • Sudden Alerts: Cats have a knack for detecting even the smallest of movements or sounds. When they hear a rustling in the bushes outside or notice an insect crawling on the wall, their curiosity drives them to investigate and potentially pounce.
  • Interactive Toys: Interactive toys, such as feather wands or laser pointers, pique a cat’s curiosity and stimulate their natural hunting instincts. They’ll often engage enthusiastically in play, trying to “catch” the moving toy.

why cats are smart

  • Scent Investigation: Cats have a highly developed sense of smell. They’ll often sniff and investigate new scents, whether it’s a new food, a scent left by another animal, or an unfamiliar object.
  • Stalking Behavior: Cats exhibit curiosity through stalking behavior. They may crouch low and watch intently as you move around the house or as they observe birds or squirrels outside. This behavior is a sign of their innate hunting instincts.
  • Inspecting Visitors: When guests come to your home, curious cats may approach them to inspect their scent and appearance. Some cats are more outgoing and will even jump on a visitor’s lap to get a closer look.
  • Playing Hide and Seek: Cats enjoy playing games of hide and seek, whether it’s with their human companions or with other cats. They’ll hide and then curiously peek out to see if anyone is looking for them.

why cats are smart

  • Investigating Sounds: Cats are often drawn to unusual sounds, such as the rustling of paper or the jingling of keys. They’ll investigate the source of the sound to satisfy their curiosity.

It’s important to encourage and nurture a cat’s curiosity, as it’s an essential part of their mental stimulation and overall well-being. Providing toys, interactive playtime, and safe exploration opportunities can help keep your cat mentally engaged and happy.

3. Learning and Memory:

Cats have excellent memory and can learn from their experiences.

Here are some examples of this:-

  • Navigation: Cats have a remarkable ability to remember the layout of their territory. They can find their way around their home, including knowing the location of food, water, and their litter box.
  • Routines: Cats are creatures of habit and quickly learn daily routines. They often anticipate feeding times, playtimes, and other activities based on their owners’ schedules.
  • Litter Box Training: Kittens can be litter box trained within a few weeks. They learn to associate the litter box with urination and defecation, showing their ability to learn and remember where to go.
  • Recognition of Voices: Cats can learn to recognize their owners’ voices and respond when called. They may also distinguish between different voices and tones, showing their memory for auditory cues.
  • Trick Training: While not as common as with dogs, some cats can learn tricks or commands, such as “sit,” “stay,” or “come,” through positive reinforcement training methods.
  • Toy Play: Cats quickly learn how to play with toys, especially interactive toys like feather wands or laser pointers. They remember the movements and patterns of these toys and engage in creative play.
  • Problem Solving: Cats can learn how to solve simple problems to access desired objects or food. For example, they may figure out how to open a cabinet door to reach their treats.
  • Social Learning: Cats can learn from observing the behavior of other cats or animals in their household. They may pick up social cues and adapt their behavior accordingly.
  • Hunting Skills: Mother cats teach their kittens hunting skills, such as stalking and pouncing, through play. Kittens learn by mimicking their mother’s actions.
  • Recognition of People and Other Pets: Cats can learn to recognize individual family members, including other pets in the household. They may form unique relationships and adjust their behavior based on these relationships.

why cats are smart

  • Avoidance of Negative Experiences: Cats remember negative experiences and learn to avoid situations or places where they have had unpleasant encounters.
  • Food Preferences: Cats can develop food preferences and remember which foods they enjoy. They may also remember the location of food sources, such as where treats are stored.
  • Hide and Seek: Cats enjoy games of hide and seek and can remember hiding spots or seek out their owners when it’s their turn to hide.
  • Scent Memory: Cats have a strong sense of smell and can remember scents. They may remember the scent of a familiar person or another animal.

These examples illustrate that domestic cats possess the ability to learn from their experiences, adapt to their environment, and remember information. Their memory and learning skills help them navigate their world, interact with humans and other animals, and solve everyday problems.

4. Communication:

Cats use various vocalizations, body language, and scent marking to communicate with other cats and humans. They can convey their needs, emotions, and intentions effectively.

Here’s a brief summary of some key aspects of cat communication:

  • Vocalizations: Cats use a range of vocalizations, including meowing, purring, hissing, growling, and chirping, to communicate with humans and other cats.
  • Body Language: Cats communicate through their body language, including posture, tail position, ear orientation, and facial expressions. For example, an upright tail may signal friendliness, while flattened ears can indicate fear or aggression.
  • Purring: Cats purr when content, but they can also purr when in pain or distress. It’s a versatile communication tool used in various situations.
  • Meowing: Cats primarily meow to communicate with humans, often to request attention, food, or interaction. The tone and pitch of meows can convey different messages.
  • Kneading: When a cat kneads with its paws on a soft surface, it often signals contentment or a desire for comfort, as this behavior is typically associated with kittenhood and nursing.
  • Grooming: Mutual grooming among cats is a sign of social bonding and trust. It’s a non-verbal way for cats to express affection.

why cats are smart

  • Hissing and Growling: These vocalizations are used to signal fear, aggression, or discomfort. They serve as warnings to other animals or humans to back off.
  • Tail Language: A cat’s tail position can indicate its mood. A raised tail often means the cat is happy or confident, while a puffed-up tail suggests fear or agitation.
  • Slow Blinking: Cats may engage in slow blinking as a sign of trust and affection. It’s often used by cats to communicate with their human caregivers.
  • Scratching: Cats scratch objects to mark their territory, release scent from glands in their paws, and communicate their presence to other cats.
  • Play Behavior: Cats use play to communicate with other cats and humans. Pouncing, stalking, and batting are all forms of play that serve to practice hunting skills and bond with playmates.
  • Scent Marking: Cats have scent glands on their cheeks and paws, and they may rub their faces or scratch objects to mark them with their scent, which serves as a form of communication.

Understanding these communication cues can help cat owners better respond to their pets’ needs and emotions and strengthen the bond between humans and cats.


Cats are known for their clever and sometimes manipulative behaviors, often aimed at getting what they want from their owners. Here are some examples of how cats can manipulate their human companions:

  • Purring for Attention: Cats often purr when they want attention or affection. They may start purring loudly and rub against their owner’s legs, making it difficult to resist giving them the desired attention.
  • Meowing for Food: Cats are notorious for meowing when they’re hungry or want food. They may use different meow tones to convey their urgency, and some cats even learn to mimic the sound of a crying baby to get their owner’s attention.
  • Knocking Things Over: Cats may intentionally knock objects off shelves or tables to grab their owner’s attention. This behavior can be a way of saying, “Pay attention to me” or “Feed me.”
  • Blocking the Path: Cats can strategically position themselves in doorways, hallways, or on staircases to block their owner’s path. This tactic often forces their owner to step around them or stop and engage with them.
  • Kneading and Purring: When a cat kneads on their owner’s lap while purring, it’s a manipulation tactic to encourage petting and attention. The rhythmic motion and purring can be quite effective at getting their way.

why cats are smart

  • Bringing “Gifts”: Cats sometimes bring “gifts” in the form of captured prey, such as mice or birds, to their owners. While this behavior is instinctual, it can also be a way for cats to receive praise and attention. As a cat owner myself I have had the awful experience of finding the remains of a poor bird under our bed which our cat had brought in!
  • Scratching Furniture: Cats may scratch furniture or other objects they know are off-limits to get their owner’s attention. They are aware that this behavior often leads to a reaction, even if it’s a negative one.
  • Staring Intently: Cats are experts at using their intense gaze to manipulate their owners. They may stare at their owner until they get what they want, whether it’s a treat or a game of fetch.
  • Sleeping on Important Items: Cats may choose to sleep on their owner’s laptop, books, or paperwork, making it challenging for their owner to work or complete tasks. This tactic can result in the owner giving the cat attention or moving them to a more comfortable spot.
  • Escaping Enclosures: Some cats are skilled at escaping from enclosures, such as playpens or closed rooms, to be with their owner. Their desire for human interaction motivates them to find a way out.

It’s important to note that while these behaviors may be seen as manipulation, they are often driven by a cat’s natural instincts and a desire for social interaction, food, or comfort. Understanding your cat’s needs and preferences can help you respond appropriately to their behavior and strengthen the bond between you and your feline friend.


It’s important to note that the intelligence of individual cats can vary, and some cats may exhibit these attributes more prominently than others. Additionally, a cat’s intelligence is not solely determined by genetics; their environment, socialization, and experiences also play a significant role in shaping their cognitive abilities.