Cats have developed a reputation for being inquisitive and smart, but have you ever wondered which cat breeds are the smartest?
It turns out there is a handful that seems to have the advantage over all other breeds when it comes to intelligence.
However, before we start listing which cat breeds are the smartest, let’s go over what “cat intelligence” is and how we define it.
What Defines an Intelligent Cat?
There have been a number of studies done on cat intelligence. Researchers measure it by the assessing ability of the cat to apply previously learned behaviors to new situations to acquire new behaviors. They measure their ability to respond to training cues, and to effectively communicate desires within a feline social group or to other animals around them.
In other words, cat intelligence is based on how well the cat can problem-solve and adapt to its current environment.
According to a veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin, cats learn things by observing and doing, just as humans. Examples including turning on light switches, ringing bells, opening doors, and more procedural memory events.
It turns out certain cat breeds can learn faster and more accurately than others.
Although there is no consensus within the scientific community about the exact order of the most intelligent breeds, through research observation and testimonials of owners, the following cats seem to have the most significant capacity for intelligence.
The Siamese cat is one of, if not the most intelligent cat breed out there. This breed initially appeared before the sixteen hundreds in Thailand. At the time it was known as Siam.
Their playful, talkative nature and reputation for getting into mischief has had them featured in many TV shows and movies. For example, Disney depicted Si and Am, the Siamese cats from Lady and the Tramp as sneaky thus using their smartness to cause trouble for the other pets in the house.
The Siamese cat is very interactive, good at entertaining itself, and can even be taught to do tricks as reported by many owners.
Have you ever seen the Simpsons episode where Chief Wiggum says “I’m at least as smart as a cat, right Lou?” Lou responds, “What breed, Chief? I mean, I saw an Abyssinian once who could change channels.”
It turns out Lou wasn’t far off. Many pet owners consider the Abyssinian as the smartest breed of cat out there.
The reason is due to their incredible extroverted, playful nature and ability to learn new things. They’ve developed the nickname “Aby-grabbys” because they will try to investigate anything that has captured their owners’ attention.
Abyssinians are known as the clowns of the cat kingdom. They are highly energetic, outgoing, love to show off, and receive attention.
Everyone can instantly recognize the Sphynx for it’s one of the few cat breeds that appears to have no hair. It turns out, however, that the Sphynx’s skin is like a peach and is covered by a fine down.
One of the reasons this cat is considered to be one of the most intelligent is its social skills. A Parisian veterinary school conducted a study which indicated that the Sphynx was the friendliest cat, beating out 129 other contestants.
These cats are recommended as excellent therapy cats and family companions due to their social nature.
Also, the Sphynx displays excellent problem-solving abilities. A quick search on YouTube or Instagram will find videos like the one below showing a Sphynx figuring out how to open doors and more:
4. Japanese Bobtail
The Japanese Bobtail has been around Japan since the 6th century. These intelligent cats were excellent in trapping and killing mice, so Japanese people who had silkworm barns took them in.
The Japanese Bobtail worked its way up through the social ranks to become the favorites of the Japanese Imperial family.
It appears “royalty” appeals to this breed, for upon entering a house they rule it. They are not intimidated, not even by dogs.
They are considered among the brightest cats because they love to play with their owners for hours, including the ability to play with toys.
The Burmese descended from the Siamese breed, another one of our top choices for most intelligent cat breeds.
This kitty descended from a single black cat named Wong Mau from Burma by Dr. Joseph C. Thompson, which was a bred from the Siamese cat.
For centuries, many people have been awed by the beauty of wild cats such as leopards and tigers and attempted, with little success, to domesticate them as pets.
Bengal cats were developed for this reason, and breed from hybrids of the Asian leopard cat with domestic cats.
This gives Bengals the wild “jungle” appearance with large spots and arrowheads across their coat.
Just like their ancestors, Bengals are filled with energy and are a highly intelligent breed of cat.
These cats enjoy a lot of playing and activities including being able to jump 4 feet from the ground. They also love playing in the water and are among the most “vocal” of all cat breeds.
7. Cornish Rex
The Cornish Rex cat is the perfect companion for those who are not sure if they want a dog or a cat as a pet.
This energetic kitty is known for playing fetch and retrieving toys. The Cornish Rex also has an uncanny ability to figure out ways to get into places they are not allowed, like raiding cabinets.
Upon looking at this cat, one would think it was very refined, but this highly intelligent cat loves attention and is ready to play and perform tricks for their owners.
These cats descended from the wild African cat and are easily recognizable by prominent spots on its coat and its bigger size, weighing up to 30 pounds.
If you’re interested in a mild-mannered, relaxed cat, then stay far away from this breed! Like their wild ancestor, Savannah cats are very energetic and continuously seek out things to keep their attention occupied.
You can find Savannah cats often shredding toilet paper, running through the house, and clawing at furniture. These cats love to swim and are great to walk outside.
They can be very social as well, and form close bonds with their companions.
9. Scottish Fold
The Scottish Fold cat has recently captured the attention of the internet, thanks to Maru, a cat that has been viewed over 200 million times on YouTube.
The reason for Maru’s success is that his Scottish Fold nature is on full display. He figures out how to fit into tight spaces, gets into trouble, and is very playful in nature.
Of course, everyone loves the Scottish Folds’ “folded” ears giving them a distinct look.
These brilliant cats love puzzle toys that can test their intelligence and enjoy socializing with their owners making them an easy fit on the smartest cat breed list.
10. Havana Brown
A descendant of the Siamese and domestic black cats, the Havana Brown is very intelligent, but a very rare cat with green eyes and a dark coat.
One article estimates there are fewer than 1000 Havana Browns in the world making it one of the rarest cats today.
It’s believed that the Havana Brown gets its name from the color of Havana cigars, a deep brown and black color. However, it’s important to note the breed did not originate in Cuba, but instead in England as a result of planned breeding.
This shorthaired cat is more active than others and loves the occasional game of sprint with other cats in the house.
Also, don’t be surprised if the Havana Brown comes to cuddle with you when you’re sleeping as they enjoy napping with their favorite human.
If you mix the smartness of the Siamese with the Burmese, you’ll get the Tonkinese, also referred to by their nickname “Tonks.”
These cats are very social and need constant stimulation, or they’ll get bored easily and may get into trouble. You should make sure to get lots of different games because they will quickly figure them out and move on to the next puzzle or toy.
Tonkinese has also been shown to adapt well to its surrounding environment, too. It can adapt so well that it will change its fur color based on current climate using a darkening enzyme.
12. Turkish Angora
The Turkish Angora is an ancient and natural breed of cat that originates in Turkey.
These cats are known for their elegant, shimmering coats in a variety of colors including tabby, tabby-white, brown, and smoked varieties. Many of these cats are born with complete heterochromia iridum, a genetic condition that makes the irises two different colors.
These cats are very playful, smart, and athletic. Upon entering a home, they will often select a person to be their main companion whom they will show attention to and even protect.
If you have a Turkish Angora, make sure to invest in cat trees or safe “cat-friendly” perches as they often go to high grown places to monitor the activity of the home, another sign of intelligence.
13. Turkish Van
According to legends, the Turkish Van breed is so old that it sailed with Noah on the fabled Ark. Upon the Ark reaching Mount Ararat in Turkey, a mountain believed by some to be where the Ark landed, the cats jumped off the boat and made it safely to the dry land.
Whether the cats were on the giant Ark remains legend, but researchers do believe the cat originated in central Asia and that it lived in Turkey’s Lake Van region. It is believed the Turkish government launched measures to protect it in its native land.
The Van is anything but a quiet, mild-mannered kitty. This feline loves to leap, pounce, run, and play around the house. It enjoys playing puzzle games and is known for its love of swimming with a unique water-repellent coat which was helpful to hunt for fish that live in Lake Van.
14. Norwegian Forrest
One look at the Norwegian Forest cat and it makes sense that these cats came from the cold Northern Europe environment as it has long hair and a woolly undercoat used for insulation.
These cats are prized for their acute hunting skills and often used on farms in Norway to catch unwanted rodents. It’s believed the Norwegian Forest’s ancestors were mousers (or the ship’s cats) on Viking ships.
These cats have tons of energy and primarily live outside (but can be adapted for indoor life, too). Norse legends name them as skogkatt or a “mountain-dwelling fairy cat with the ability to climb sheer rock faces that other cats could not handle” which some including author Claire Bessant believe is the Norwegian Forest.
15. Singapura Cat
This tiny little cat only weighs 4 to 8 pounds, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not a handful.
The Singapura, originally bred from cats in Singapore, is very mischievous and smart. This cat is just as playful as an adult cat as it was a kitten. It will climb curtains, chase balls of yarn, play on your keyword, and more.
Plus, despite their tiny size, this cat isn’t shy. It loves to be petted making it an excellent lap cat when it’s not exploring for new things to sniff or play with.
As mentioned above, this list only gives an opinion of which cats are the smartest based on research and not a consensus of the scientific community.
Cat intelligence, like human intelligence, can be seen in all degrees in all races and ethnicities all across the world.
So, which one of these cats is your favorite? On a scale of 1-10, how smart do you think your cat is? Let us know in the comments below.