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Cat intelligence is the considered capacity of learning, thinking, problem solving, reasoning, and adaptability possessed by the domestic cat.

Brain Size and Surface Area

File:Cat brain.jpg

The brain of a cat

The brain size of the average cat is 5 centimeters in length and 30 grams. Since the average cat is 60 cm long and 3.3 kg,[1] the brain makes up 1/12 of its length and 1/110 of its mass. Thus, the average cat's brain accounts for 0.9 percent of its total body mass, compared to 2 percent of total body mass in the average human. The surface area of a cat's cerebral cortex is approximately 83 cm². The modern human cerebral cortex is about 2500 cm².[2] Cat brains have been shown to be more similar to human brains than dog brains, and the part of the brain for emotions is the same in both cats and humans.[3] According to researchers at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, the physical structure of human brains and that of cats are very similar; they have the same lobes in the cerebral cortex (the "seat" of intelligence) as humans do.[citation needed] Human brains also function the same way, conveying data via many identical neurotransmitters.[citation needed]

The Learning Cat

Main article: Cat learning

Intelligence by Breed

Ranking the intelligence of cats by breed is popular among pet owners, veterinarians and others, but the practice tends to run into difficulties. In general, the subject of cat intelligence rankings tends to be subjective. Cat breeder Norman Auspitz states the following: "As a rule, people seem to think the more active breeds have higher intelligence than the less active breeds. I will tell you that in feline agility, all breeds have done very well or very poorly as the case may be. Having said that, there is no certified measure of cat intelligence and this general rule may be very anthropomorphic[sic, should be anthropocentric]... until there is a credible definition of what might be meant by cat intelligence and a way to measure it, any comment anyone will make about the subject is, at best, speculation."[4]


Main article: Cat communication

Cats, like many animals, communicate in a social environment in various ways. Some aspects of this behaviour are simple, such as purring to express the desire for and enjoyment of attention, meowing near the food bowl to get fed, some remember what time they get fed and attempt to gain their owner's attention at that time every day, etc, and some are more complex. Domestic cats organize themselves in complex social units when food is plentiful and conditions are otherwise conducive to it. It is actually quite important to cats' welfare to understand that they are not 'solitary by nature.' Although they do not socialize in the same way that dogs do (they do not hunt in packs, for example, and are not responsive to praise and blame in the same way) they still associate themselves strongly with specific other animals (including humans) and are probably even more attached to place and routine than dogs or their human owners.

Computer simulation of the cat brain

There have been reports of the computer simulation of a cat brain, that scientists have simulated a cat's cerebral cortex, the thinking part of the brain, using a massive supercomputer.[5][6] But the reports have raised controversy.[7][8] The computer does not actually think like a cat. The computer simulation is cat-scale, meaning that the simulation is powerful enough to simulate a cat brain, but it is not actually a simulation of a cat brain. Also, there are conflicting views that say the simulation uses a faithful reproduction of the neurons in the brain, and also say that the simulation does not use biologically realistic simulations of the neurons in a cat brain. Other parts of the controversy are about the motives for reverse-engineering a cat brain. For neuroscientists, the goal is to understand how the brain's architecture using biological neurons leads to consciousness and neurological disorders, and for computer scientists, the goal is to understand brain architecture in order to create new kinds of electronics.

There are a number of reasons the cat brain is a goal of computer simulations. Cats are a familiar and easily-kept animal, so the physiology of cats has been particularly well studied. The physical structure of human brains and cat brains are very similar.[3] Cats, like humans, have binocular vision that gives them depth perception.[9]

Building artificial mammal brains requires ever more powerful computers as the brain gets more complex, from the mouse brain, to the rat brain (in 2007), to the cat brain, and ultimately to the human brain. Building artificial mammal brains advances the research of both neuroscience and artificial intelligence, but also leads to questions of the definition of sentient and conscious lifeforms, and to the ethics of artificial consciousness.[10]

See also


  1. Brain and Body Size
  2. Brain Facts and Figures
  3. 3.0 3.1, The Cat's Brain
  4. Cats: cat intelligence
  5. includeonly>"IBM computer simulates cat’s cerebral cortex", Associated Press, November 18, 2009. Retrieved on December 31, 2009.
  6. includeonly>Adee, Sally. "IBM Unveils a New Brain Simulator", 'IEEE Spectrum', November 18, 2009. Retrieved on December 31, 2009.
  7. includeonly>Adee, Sally. "Two simulations and an angry e-mail reveal the conflicting goals of supercomputer brain modeling", 'IEEE Spectrum', January 2010. Retrieved on December 31, 2009.
  8. includeonly>Burt, Jeffrey. "Rival Scientist Calls IBM Cat Brain Simulation a Scam", 'IT Infrastructure - eWeek', November 24, 2009. Retrieved on December 31, 2009.
  9. Grossberg, Stephen and Grunewald, Alexander (March 2002). Temporal dynamics of binocular disparity processing with corticogeniculate interactions. Neural Networks.
  10. includeonly>Koch, Christof and Tononi, Giulio. "Can Machines Be Conscious?", 'IEEE Spectrum', June 2008. Retrieved on December 31, 2009.

Further reading

  • Bergler, Reinhold "Man and Cat: The Benefits of Cat Ownership" Blackwell Scientific Publications (1989)
  • Bradshaw, John W S "The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat" C A B International (1992)
  • Chesler, Phyllis. "Maternal Influence in Learning by Observation in Kittens" Science 166 (1969): 901 - 903.
  • Hobhouse, L T "Mind in Evolution" MacMillan, London (1915)
  • Turner, Dennis C, and Patrick Bateson. "The Domestic Cat: The Biology of Its Behaviour" Cambridge University Press (1988)
  • Miles , R C "Learning In Kittens With Manipulatory, Exploratory And Food Incentives" Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology 51 (1958): 39-42
  • Neville, Peter "Claws and Purrs" Sidgwick & Jackson (1992)
  • Neville, Peter "Do Cats Need Shrinks" Sidgwick & Jackson (1990)
  • Voith, Victoria L "You, Too, Can Teach a Cat Tricks (Examples of Shaping, Second-Order Reinforcement, and Constraints on Learning)" Modern Veterinary Practice, August 1981: 639 - 642.

External links

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