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Siamese cat resting on a red blanket

The smartest cat breeds enjoy the mental stimulation of learning new tricks on a regular basis.

© Alexey Savchenko - Unsplash

What are the top 10 smartest cat breeds?

By Greta Inglis Dog Behaviourist | Animal Behaviourist

Published on the

Our feline friends astonish us regularly, but have you ever wondered which cat breed is the most intelligent? Here are some of the smartest cats out there.

From lap cats to those that love learning new tricks, there is certainly a cat breed to suit everyone. It may come as no surprise that- while they may show a certain reluctance to participate in studies - our feline friends are actually highly intelligent.

Cats are believed to have a similar brain structure to other animals, and this includes both dogs and humans. Studies have found that cats possess around 250 million neurons in their cerebral cortex, which is the area responsible for decision making and problem solving. This, combined with their emotional intelligence around people, leads us to believe that domestic cat breeds are in fact far more astute than some people may give them credit for! 

Cats are notoriously independent and they certainly know their own mind, which is what makes sharing our lives with them so fascinating. The following are 10 of the smartest cat breeds, more than capable of keeping us on our toes...

Burmese

Known for their almost dog-like personality, Burmese cats have a wonderful reputation as social and energetic companions.  Also known as the Malayan in the United States, the breed is known for a love of people, along with their clever and curious nature. This does mean they need to be mentally stimulated to keep their active brains occupied. Here's how you can make your own DIY cat toys at home

Bengal

If the idea of sharing your life with a tiny leopard appeals to you, the Bengal may be the perfect breed for you. Bengal cats most definitely combine beauty with boundless energy, and need at least 2 play sessions every day. Keeping them mentally and physically stimulated requires plenty of time and dedication, but as one of the smartest cat breeds, this can also be extremely rewarding. 

Many owners find their Bengal is capable of learning new tricks, such as playing fetch and giving a high five. Beginning training from a young age and using lots of positive reinforcement will help your kitten grow into a happy and balanced adult cat.

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Abyssinian

The Abyssinian is an ancient breed, first reported in Europe as far back as the 1860s. English breeders then worked to refine the breed, making crosses with other shorthaired cats. These cats are energetic and athletic, with very expressive almond-shaped eyes. 

Abyssinians love to be involved in all aspects of family life, and they're naturally very curious about the world around them. 

Scottish Fold 

The adorable Scottish Fold is often compared to a teddy bear, with big round eyes and very soft fur. Behind their  cuddly looks you'll find a curious and adaptable cat, who loves exploring the world around them. This breed really enjoys playing with interactive toys and using their brain, so it's important to offer them affection and mental stimulation in equal measure. 

Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex is perhaps one of the most unique looking cats in the feline world, with a long, slender body and very large ears. While these cats still classify as a rare breed, they have been steadily growing in popularity in recent years. With distinctively curly fur, made up solely of an undercoat, the Cornish Rex loves cuddling up to people for comfort and warmth

While they may seem fairly delicate, the Cornish Rex is strong and agile, and they enjoy playtime on a regular basis. They are also highly intelligent, able to pick up tricks and commands with enough training from their family. 

Siamese 

Elegant, affectionate and active, the Siamese is undoubtedly a very charming cat breed. Native to Thailand where they were once considered sacred, Siamese cats are considered one of the smartest cat breeds that exist.

Their inquisitive nature and responsiveness to training makes them a joy to train, but their intelligence also means they need mental stimulation on a regular basis. Puzzle toys can be a great option. Here are some of the best interactive toys for cats.

Turkish Angora

Stunning in looks and strong in character, the Turkish Angora is a cat that knows its own mind. Mischievious and curious in equal measure, this breed will play with most objects they can lay their paws on. They love exploring and learning different tricks, and as avid climbers they often spend time perched on their owner's shoulder. 

With a particular love of water, you can be sure you'll never have a dull day with this wonderful breed by your side. 

Savannah

The Savannah is a hybrid breed, originating from a cross between a Serval (a wild African cat) and a domestic cat. These cats are athletic and playful, with a particularly strong ability to climb and jump distances. 

Savannah cats can even be trained to walk on a leashand many seem to enjoy it! This can be particularly useful if your cat lives in a flat or a busy area, as it allows them the opportunity to explore their surroundings safely.

Turkish Van

Native to central and southeast Asia, the Turkish Van is lively and curious. As one of the smartest cat breeds, these cats are fast learners, and they enjoy playing games and performing tricks for their family. 

In contrast to many cats, Turkish Vans are known to actively enjoy water, often becoming good swimmers with the right encouragement. 

Maine Coon

The giants of the domestic cat world, Maine Coons certainly know how to make an impression. Weighing up to a whopping 8kg, these cats are both incredibly sweet and surprisingly active for their size. They possess above-average intelligence, making them easily trainable. 

The breed has strong hunting instincts making them the perfect candidates for learning fetch. This offers a wonderful opportunity to mentally and physically stimulate your pet, which will help them feel happy and relaxed during calmer moments at home. 

Intelligence in cats comes in many forms, from adaptability and curiousity, to the ability to pick up tricks and detect human emotion easily. Take the time to research the right companion for you, and you can be sure that sharing your life with one of the smartest cat breeds will bring endless joy and entertainment.

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