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When comparing tabby cats to other cats and pets, their intelligence is a big topic of debate. New cat owners often wonder how smart their tabby cat is and whether they are smarter than other types of pets. However, just because a cat does not react to a specific command or action does not necessarily mean that it is less intelligent. In fact, they might actually be smarter than we think.
So, are tabby cats smarter? Yes, in many cases tabby cats are smarter than other pets. Cats, in general, have a complex cerebral cortex and over 300 million neurons. They can process information quickly, display unique survival skills, and interact socially. They are trained and learn to adapt quickly to new environments. Tabby cats can also retain information from past experiences.
Having a smarter cat can be very beneficial for owners and the cat. Not only does this help in caring for the cat on a day-to-day basis, but it also creates unique bonds with the animal. In this article, we are going to look at how the tabby cat’s intelligence compares to that of other pets. We will also see how you can help improve the intelligence of cats so that they grow up even smarter.
How Tabby Cat Smarts Compare to Other Cats
There is a common misconception that tabby cats are a breed of cat. Tabby actually refers to the coat pattern of the cat, not the breed itself. Other coat patterns you might find in tabby cats include classic, mackerel, spotted, and ticked patterns.
For most people who refer to tabby cats, they are primarily referring to the American Shorthair; one of the most popular domestic cat breeds in the world. The American Shorthair is also quite smart, but average compared to some of the other smart cat breeds.
This breed is able to function on its own and easily resolve complex situations. It has average intelligence compared to other breeds like Siamese, Bengal, and Scottish Fold.
As a result, it is not very useful to try to compare the intelligence of a tabby cat to that of one that has a different coat pattern. Instead, the comparison should be between the races themselves. In this comparison, you are sure to find traits among cats that have tabby coats versus those that don’t. However, these data are not significant enough to draw a drastic conclusion that a cat with a different coat is smarter than the other.
The fact is that a cat’s intelligence has less to do with its appearance than with its breed. Below is a list of some of the smartest cat breeds that also have the tabby coat pattern.
- Cornish Rex
- Scottish fold
Besides having the tabby pattern, these cats can also exhibit other coat patterns such as solid, bicolor, tricolor, and color point.
Most domestic cats have brains that make up nearly 1% of their total body mass. They also exhibit cerebral cortices very similar to human lobes. Cats’ brains operate in different areas and sensory information is often shared between each of these areas.
How to Test and Train Your Tabby Cat’s Intelligence
Although cats with the tabby pattern may not be more intelligent than cats with other coat patterns, they do possess more intelligence than other types of pets. Particularly comparing cats to dogs, cats have more neurons, better visual receptors, and are better at survival.
In general, the tabby American Shorthair is able to achieve success in many areas mentioned above. These tabby cats are known for their strong muscles, so they are capable of developing great survival skills. They are also naturally affectionate, perhaps more so than any other breed. Their ability to process gentle gestures and differentiate them from harmful gestures is well documented.
If you have a tabby cat, you might be wondering how to test your cat’s intelligence. It’s actually quite easy to do. First, we’ll go over five key areas you can test to see how smart your cat is. Next, we’ll look at a few ways to help train your cat’s intelligence in each of these areas.
- Social interaction
- Ability to be trained
Social interaction stimulates the cat’s brain
A large part of the factors of a cat’s intelligence is related to its social interaction. This includes how they react to what humans and other animals do. The more social interactions they have, the more their brains will be stimulated, which will lead to smarter interactions. Especially for an American Shorthair tabby cat, it is quite easy to condition them to behave exactly as you need them to.
An affectionate cat is considered an intelligent breed. Cats can react to humans in different ways. For some people, they can be affectionate and turn to them to solve their problems. For others, the cats might have a negative reaction and stay away from that person.
Tabby cats in particular show a ton of social traits. Ways to stimulate social interaction in cats are to introduce them to different toysgive them free time and test them even in group environments.
By doing this you can learn how your cat reacts to certain situations and even use these environments to train them to be a certain way. Science Direct has a fascinating study on how social interaction can affect cat behavior. You can read the full study here.
Cat Memory Duration
Another easy way to compare the intelligence of multiple cats is to test their memory span. Cats that remember better are easier to train.
Some examples of a cat displaying its memory span is how it reacts to repeated situations. For example, if you come across a cat that continually tries and fails at a certain task, it may be a sign that they are not able to completely process what is causing it.
Then there are cats who may associate running water in the bathtub as a sign that it’s time for a bath. The same can be said for the clicking of a toy that makes a sound signaling dinner time. There is also the situation where a cat can smell certain foods or if their litter box has gone bad.
There are situations where cats engage in repeated behaviors despite being reprimanded or dissuaded. Although it may seem like cats have short-term memory, that’s actually not the case. Because cats store various pieces of their memory throughout the brain, they can actually remember a lot when everything is working in sync.
This is one of the reasons why it is important to interact and train a cat during the first to two months of its life. This is the time period where the most impact and confidence is built that they will retain for years to come.
Survival skills in cats
Cats are naturally good when it comes to survival skills. They instinctively know how to escape daring situations and are always on the lookout. Cats with great survival skills are also considered highly intelligent, especially those who carefully plan their next moves.
One experiment you can try is with a toy mouse. Hide it in the room, then watch the cat start doing its calculations. You may notice that the cat will start exploring various places to hide and attack the toy. Some will walk around it slowly on tiptoe and then make their leap.
Other cats can bypass stealth mode and jump right into the action. In addition, a cat that reacts to certain sounds, or that meows to alert of potential dangers is also very reactive.
In addition, the way cats move around the room, calculating the distance and height needed to reach certain places is a great indicator. Truly intelligent cats sometimes develop specific routines and refine them over time. Whether it’s trying to make their way through an open space or jumping onto a counter five feet away, most cats have the mental capacity to make those calculations.
For the most part, cats develop their ability to learn through observation. This means that a cat will think before acting. Likewise, if they see a human doing something, they will copy it if it achieves the desired result. This includes things like the way you open a door or even scratch the carpet to get your attention.
How well can tabby cats be trained
Every aspect of a cat’s daily life and routine can be trained. Some cats do better than others, and personality has a lot to do with it. Because most tabby cats are socially interactive, they are easier to train than some other breeds.
The best way to train a cat is to use treats and react immediately to their actions. For example, if a cat rushed into its kennel and you immediately gave it a treat, it would associate its kennel with getting a good treat from its owner. You can also train cats not to interact with certain objects like furniture and windows by using tape or certain scents.
John Bradshaw has a fantastic book on how to train cats. He discusses effective ways to train them so that your lifestyle is even more enjoyable. Check out the book here if you are serious about training your cat.
Functionality of the cat’s brain in later years
Whether you have a tabby cat or not, their brain functionality will decline as they age. Particularly in later years, you will notice a decrease in activity and slower reactions to certain situations. Sometimes there is even some deterioration in their movement and balance. Forgetfulness may also begin to occur.
Ways to make your tabby cat smarter
There are a few steps you can take now to help keep your tabby smart for years to come. The first thing to do is to give them a balanced diet. Communication with your veterinarian is important and the cat should have annual exams. Also, make sure the cat gets plenty of exercise and always let it explore its surroundings.
For additional brain stimulation, you can ask your cat to solve food puzzles like this. Food puzzles make eating fun even more exciting for cats! Playing games with them, such as hide and seek laser toys, and training them to react to certain sounds can also help.