Top 10 Smartest Cat Breeds

Written by Heather Hall
Updated: September 19, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Smartha_Martha
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Key Points:

  • A breed of cat called the Abyssinian is thought to be the smartest cat in the world.
  • The high intelligence of a cat is what makes it harder to train than a dog.
  • Cats need mental stimulation in the form of training, games, toys, playmates, puzzles, and new environments to explore.

Cats are among the smartest, most beloved animals in the world. Studies show they stimulate a substance called oxytocin in us, a neurochemical linked to love. (Dogs do the same.) But that’s not the reason we love cats. We love watching them bang at the piano keys. There’s applause hearing a cat call 911 to get help for its disabled owner. Cat memes get outrageous views. We love that they’re a pain. Cats are often difficult to train. They’re extremely independent and self-sufficient. But traits like these also make felines excellent companions.

Intelligence is what makes your cat unique. Studies show they may be the smartest creatures in any ecosystem, not just surpassing dolphins and monkeys, but humans. With felines, there are more visual nerve cells. They influence problem-solving, decision-making, language processing, memory, and planning. This characteristic gives every type of cat capabilities we’d never imagine an animal might have. For instance, have you ever seen your pet suddenly go bolting to another room for no apparent reason? Well, it’s because they see or sense something you’re incapable of detecting.

Like any other living species, the most intelligent cat fluctuates from breed to breed and even kitty to kitty. Some breeds are smarter than others. Some cats are smarter than their cousins, even within the same breed. While we can’t gauge a cat to cat ratio for intelligence, we can certainly take a look at which breeds have the smartest cat breeds. Here are 10 of the smartest cat breeds in the world.

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#10: Japanese Bobcat

The Japanese Bobcat first came to America in 1968. That’s fascinating considering the species goes back to Japan, 600 to 700 A.D. The dating makes her one of the oldest recorded types of the cat in existence. The Bobtail will watch television with you and sit in your lap while you read. This is the type of cat that, at the sound of the bell, will follow or meet you at the door to see what’s what. (Some claim the cat’s just nosey.)

Japanese Bobtails are smart, capable of responding to a range of commands like “fetch” and learning an array of tricks and stunts. Like any intelligent breed, she’s got to have her physical and mental game time daily. Otherwise, you end up with a bored and frustrated feline. Keep a variety of activities around to keep her thinking and exploring.

#9: Turkish Angora

Turkish Angoras are capable of following basic commands and showing empathy to human emotion.

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A most intelligent type of animal, the Turkish Angora is adaptable, affectionate, and full of energy. He’s believed to come out of Turkey (hence, the name) and many believe was originally brought into the United States by way of 1950s American servicemen.

As for smarts, he’s known for taking easily to training and problem-solving. The feline’s capable of following basic commands and shows empathy to human emotion. He’s emotionally intelligent. The Turkish Angora’s considered a good option for homes with children and cat-friendly dogs.

#8: Siamese

The Siamese requires significant mental stimulation.

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One of the most famous cats in the world is also one of the smartest. The Siamese is openly acknowledged for having a wondrous social nature and a truckload of affection for her family. She’s noted for a slim, almost gaunt, appearance, including a long, lean neck that gives the head and faces a distinctive look, especially with darkened features.

Due to her intelligence, the Siamese requires significant mental stimulation to keep busy. She craves exploration and learning and discovery. Energetic, not getting her needed mental play will force the feline to find some. That, not surprisingly, results in mischief and destructive behavior she perceives as entertainment.

#7: Persian

The attentiveness of the Persian cat makes it receptive to words through sound association.

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The Persian cat has a round face, long hair, and a friendly, quiet temperament. Out of Iran, the Persian cat appeared in the West Circa 1620. But it wasn’t until near the end of the 19th century that he began a household choice. Unlike many cats, training is on the table thanks to the Persian being one of the most intelligent cats. The Persian takes to various commands, including “come here” and “no.” Her attentiveness makes her receptive to words through sound association. The Persian is a shy and docile creature, cautious and overly sensitive. She’s a great pet for families with children.

#6: Singapura

Singapuras are known for being “socially intelligent.”

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A Singapura loves interactive play and can’t get enough attention from loved ones. He’s friendly with other cats and dogs too. But you want to note that the Singapura is a sensitive cat and not suited for a home with small children and loud noises.

Your Singapura is “socially intelligent.” He uses skills and manipulation to keep everyone focused on him. He’s the type of cat that knows how to naturally use cuteness, agility, and exuberant energy to get everyone to look over here. Some call this “needy” or “pesky.” Others might see it as the antics of an “extrovert.” Still, he also manages challenging games and toys that demonstrate intelligence used for more than getting eyes on him.

#5: Scottish Fold

Scottish Folds are considered to be “emotionally intelligent.”

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Not surprisingly, this cat comes from Scotland. She’s part of a medium-sized breed coming in a black, white, blue, red, silver, or cream long, soft coat. Weekly combings are essential as this type of feline sheds all year. This kitty needs companionship and should be in a home where she’s not left alone for hours at a time. She’s friendly and needs an outlet for attention and interaction.

The Scottish Fold loves challenges. Games and activities that test her intelligence are a must. She’s in the category of felines considered “emotionally intelligent.” That means she responds to a broad range of human emotions and is labeled exceptionally observant. The breed consistently uses human behavior to develop a better understanding of its environment.

#4: Burmese

Burmese cats are capable of picking up on moods and responding accordingly.

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The Burmese cat comes in a variety of unique shades, including platinum, blue, and champagne. He’s energetic, curious, sociable, and craves his family’s attention. Kitty’s extremely gentle and promises to make for a wonderful family pet for adults and children. They’re a responsive breed. He’s capable of picking up on moods and responding accordingly. The ability to closely observe his surroundings is also applied to learning through trial and error. These traits are why the Burmese get cited as one of the most intelligent cat breeds in the world.

#3: Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex is often called the “Greyhound” of cats.

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Due to her sleek body and great speed, the Cornish Rex is often called the “Greyhound” of the cat world. She’s also one of the rare cats that loses a significant amount of hair over their lifetime. The cat will eventually develop a relatively bald appearance.

Besides being smart as a whip, the kitty is also energetic. Physical stimulation is as vital as mental play. There should be mental stimulation daily. Otherwise, boredom sets in. We highly recommend advanced toys and puzzle games to challenge critical thinking for the Cornish Rex. The cat enjoys exploring and learning tricks. She also exhibits noticeable non-verbal and verbal skills for communicating what she wants from her owners.

#2: Bengal

Bengals can be trained to walk on a leash.

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The Bengal is a large, athletic breed. He’s famous not just for intelligence but also has a reputation for curiosity that leads to rambunctious action. The inherent wildness comes from his parents, a crossbreeding of a domestic cat, and an Asian leopard. That makes the Bengal a domestic cat that resembles jaguars, ocelots, and leopards.

It’s important to give him responsible athletic activities and daily exercise because you don’t want him to find his own. Trust us. The Bengal is the rare feline you can train to walk on a leash. He’s also capable of sitting or lying down on command. Owners have taught their Bengals to turn off the lights using wall switches. The feline’s great with kids, getting a lot of mental and physical stimulation from them.

#1: Abyssinian

Abyssinians are considered the smartest cat breed.

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The Abyssinian is easily considered the smartest cat period. Abyssinians are capable of learning tricks and are strongly responsive to training. A unique trait of this kitty is the “ticked” coat. That’s a banding of different colors. She’s active and fiercely independent while also loving her family’s attention.

The history of the Abyssinians is foggy. Some believe the cat comes from Egypt, specifically the former Abyssinia (Ethiopia) where the animals were “sacred.” Other theorists argue the cat is borne from a breed created in Britain. But mummified remains of the Abyssinian seem to lean toward the former rather than the latter argument. The Abyssinian, once an obscure, unnoticed breed, is currently one of the five most popular breeds in the world.

The Abyssinian is inquisitive and well-known for its need to explore and learn. She appreciates a wide range of puzzles and toys that prompt mental acuity. The cat’s capable of learning tricks and is strongly responsive to training. Like many cats and dogs, this cat will get into mischief if general boredom or frustration sets in. Keep various toys around the house, including what appear to be favorites so that she’s never looking for something to do.

Here is a Summary of the Top 10 Smartest Cats

  1. Abyssinian
  2. Bengal
  3. Cornish Rex
  4. Burmese
  5. Scottish Fold
  6. Singapura
  7. Persian
  8. Siamese
  9. Turkish Angora
  10. Japanese Bobcat

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About the Author

I am a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am surrounded by nature. When I go for my daily runs I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I am owned by two dogs who take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

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