A common interpretation of the word “Intelligence” sees it as the ability to acquire and remember information and then use that knowledge to aid in solving different problems. Going by that definition alone, cats definitely can be considered intelligent and might be one of the smartest animals among those usually around us.
If you ever put a cat into a room it has never been in before, you should see it start to explore and inspect every corner of it within the first few minutes. This detailed search gives the cat invaluable information that it will acquire and remember about the things in that room. Very often, it is this very knowledge that ends up saving the cat from harm. This behaviour might have given rise to the saying “curiosity killed the cat” but most likely resulted in cats being rumoured to have 9 lives instead.
The capacity to inspect its surrounding areas is not unique to cats themselves. Dogs, birds and various other types of animals all explore their surrounding areas when they are in unfamiliar territory. However, the cat is the one that best makes use of this information and its ability to inspect its environment is far above that of any other domestic animal.
To further demonstrate their mental capabilities, cats are very well known to be able to use acquired information to pass through certain situations. They are capable of forming “learning methods”, a characteristic that supposedly belonged only to intelligent primates.
Much like human beings, cats learn through the process of observation, imitation, trying and past errors. There have been various stories of cats opening drawers or cupboards but there are also many of these feline pets that can turn on the lights or use the toilet. Such behaviour was only possible by carefully observing their owners and people around them.
Nonetheless, despite the cat’s amazing intelligence, every pet owner should clearly know the limits of their cognitive ability. For instance, cats are unable to reflect upon the past or think in perspective. Punishing a cat for a past action will not work towards training it because it cannot see the link between the punishment and the past error. Likewise, due to this very same reason, cats are also unable to exact revenge for a punishment that was meted out earlier.
In conclusion, do not underestimate the intelligence of our lovely pet cats. They can easily be trained to do many different things and become an important companion in our daily lives.