The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (2023)

    RD.COM Cats

    The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (1)Lisa Marie ConklinUpdated: Apr. 24, 2023

      Where does your feline rank among intelligent kitties? Get ready to meet the smartest cat breeds and their paws-a-tively lovable traits.

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (2)Ingus Kruklitis/Getty Images

      How smart is your cat?

      Cats are delightfully complex creatures. If we dare to sleep in a few minutes late, they paw at our faces and meow, demanding breakfast. They can be warm and affectionate yet aloof when we’ve been away from the house too long. Even some of the smartest cat breeds display unusual cat behavior. But there’s no need for standardized tests to verify what we already know—cats are smart! Whether they’re mixed breed or purebred, small cat breeds or large cat breeds, the reality is that there’s no one accurate way to measure the intelligence of individual cats. However, recent research gives us some compelling evidence to back up what we know in our hearts: Feline intelligence is unique.

      Are you clawing to find out which cat breeds are the smartest? Do they happen to be sleek black cat breeds, gorgeous orange cat breeds or all of the above? Experts say the ones on our list stand out when it comes to their trainability, insatiable curiosity, investigative skills and puzzle-solving brain power.

      Do cats have a high IQ?

      Before we reveal the smartest cat breeds, let’s take a closer look at just how clever these little lions are. We know that a cat’s brain is almost as structurally complex as a human brain. Cats have around 250 million neurons (tiny information processors) in their cerebral cortex, the part of the brain that solves problems, makes decisions, decodes emotions and creates complex behavior, like why cats purr or why cats sleep so much. (In comparison, dogs have about 429 million neurons, and humans house an average of 86 billion.) And while more neurons in the brain does equal more cognitive ability, it isn’t necessarily a good indicator of intelligence. That’s because cognition can involve other areas outside the cerebral cortex.

      So why are dogs generally thought to be smarter than cats? Is it because they have more neurons? Nerdy science aside, there are a host of theories. For starters, dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and have been living and learning social tasks from humans longer than cats. Temperament wise, dogs are more patient and generally eager to please their humans. In contrast, cats are typically less eager to please, though some are exceptionally cooperative. They tend to be more impulsive, have far less patience and get frustrated and lose interest in something that’s boring to them.

      (Video) The 10 Most Intelligent Cat Breeds Ever

      However, cats are highly attuned to their surroundings, and how they interact and respond is expressing intelligence, says Teresa Keiger, an all-breed judge with the Cat Fanciers’ Association. That awareness is what helped cats survive for thousands of years in the wild. “I notice that cats who were rescued from outdoor living situations tend to be more intelligent, since they’ve had to learn to think on their feet,” says Stephanie Wolf, DVM, a veterinarian for The Vets, a mobile veterinary service. Whether a mixed breed or pedigree, rare cat breed or fluffy cat breed, one thing is certain: Cats are smart and trainable; they just might not all be interested.

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      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (3)Dmitry Zinoviev/getty images

      1. Russian blue

      When it comes to the smartest cat breeds, the Russian blue is so clever that it’s more apt to train you than the other way around. Like an alarm, the Russian blue will wake you up to feed it breakfast and remind you when it’s dinnertime. In fact, if you’re looking for an accountability partner to maintain a strict schedule, this might be the cat for you. “This quiet breed is very attuned to its household,” says Keiger. “They’re incredibly smart, and they wait to make certain that any stranger is not a threat to safety.” Once they’ve issued your security clearance, they form a tight bond and are regarded as an affectionate cat breed with their humans—so much so that they’re known for hitching a ride on their human’s shoulders.

      Breed overview
      Russian blue
      Height10 inches
      Weight7–15 pounds
      Life expectancy15–20 years

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (4)anobis/Getty Images

      2. Abyssinian

      This gorgeous cat looks like it stepped out of the jungle and into your living room. From the forward-tilting ears to the large almond-shaped eyes and the stunning colors of its coat, it resembles a cougar. “Abyssinians are incredibly intelligent, good problem solvers and full of an insatiable curiosity,” says Keiger.

      Perpetually alert and busy, the Aby is happiest when patrolling its environment and playing with challenging interactive puzzle toys. “I always think of Abys as the MacGyver of cats—if they had thumbs, they’d figure out how to fix anything,” Keiger says. Intelligence aside, Abys are highly social cats and love people and other felines. Plus, they are one of the cat breeds that gets along with dogs. Who knows? Maybe the Aby could teach your old dog a few new tricks.

      Breed overview
      Height12–16 inches
      Weight6–10 pounds
      Life expectancy9–15 years

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (5)nature picture/Getty Images

      (Video) 😺How Smart are Cats? / Which are the smartest cat breeds?

      3. Egyptian mau

      The key to this exotic beauty’s happiness is sharpening its mental and physical skills. “Being able to offer enrichment is key to ensuring your cat is getting the best level of stimulation and exercise,” says Julie Andino, DVM, a veterinarian at URvet Care. That goes for all breeds, but this cat craves cat toys and activities that showcase its lightning-fast physical and mental responses. They’re so clever that they can even turn on the faucet to play in water—although we may never understand why some cats hate water when the mau wouldn’t miss an opportunity to splash their paws in it. After they’ve expended their energy figuring out the day’s puzzles, this cutie loves to snuggle up with their human.

      Breed overview
      Egyptian mau
      Height7–11 inches
      Weight8–12 pounds
      Life expectancy9–13 years

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (6)scaliger/Getty Images

      4. Burmese

      One of the smartest cat breeds, the Burmese craves attention, something you can learn from its body language. “This intelligent breed loves to entertain its resident humans so much that it often checks to make certain someone is watching,” says Keiger. They’re also known for being dog-like and enjoy a rousing game of fetch, an unusually quirky cat behavior. And they’re adorably stubborn. “When they make up their minds that they want something, they simply don’t take no for an answer and usually figure out a way to get it.” And that includes attention from you. Burmese cats are all about give-and-take when it comes to affection, but if you’re busy and ignore them too long, they might take it upon themselves to follow you around the house, rub against your leg or plop down on your lap and snuggle, all to remind you that you have a cat that needs some loving.

      Breed overview
      Height10–12 inches
      Weight8–12 pounds
      Life expectancy9–13 years

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (7)Jane-Khomi/Getty Images

      5. American bobtail

      It’s one thing for the smartest cat breeds to learn new tricks, but when a cat also has emotional intelligence, that’s an impressive combo. These cute stubby-tailed felines are noted for their empathy and for providing a calming and assuring presence that’s equal to emotional support dogs. “They are also very in tune with their household and owners, offering a shoulder to cry on when needed,” says Keiger.

      Heck, they even act like dogs—playing fetch, walking on a leash and rushing to greet guests when there’s a knock on the door. Devoted companion, a lover of people and other animals, the American bobtail is an adorable and lovable companion.

      Breed overview
      American bobtail
      Height9–10 inches
      Weight7–16 pounds
      Life expectancy13–15 years

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (8)NancyAyumi/Getty Images

      6. Japanese bobtail

      The smartest cat breeds are often breeds we have never heard of before. Take the Japanese bobtail, one of the rarest cat breeds in the world. Every Japanese bobtail has its own unique tail. Yes, you read that right. No two tails are ever alike. They consider themselves family members and are always ready to help, even if that means sitting on your laptop. “They are active, intelligent, talkative cats who delight in mischief-making,” says Keiger. They love to travel, stay in hotels and quite literally jump through hoops and over hurdles to impress you—and entertain themselves. As brain power goes, it’s that human-like personality that makes them seem so bright. “Life is never dull with a Japanese bobtail,” Keiger says.

      Breed overview
      Japanese bobtail
      Height8–9 inches
      Weight6–10 pounds
      Life expectancy15–18 years

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (9)Drbouz/Getty Images

      7. Siamese

      The Siamese is wicked smart and loves to learn new tricks, Dr. Andino says. If you don’t provide interesting and challenging outlets to exercise its noggin, it will find its own stimulating activities, whether you approve or not. If there’s one thing that competes with utilizing its brain power, it’s the love and affection it craves from humans. If this cat had a daily schedule, “get affection from human” would be a top priority. And Siamese cats will let you know by that infamous yowling. “The Siamese are very vocal and communicative with their human,” says Dr. Andino. They’re likely to talk your ear off, especially if they want something. One of the smartest cat breeds, the Siamese gets along well with people of all ages, as well as other animals. Bonus: If you take any stock in choosing cats most compatible with your zodiac sign, the Siamese happens to be very compatible with Libras.

      Breed overview
      Height8–10 inches
      Weight6–15 pounds
      Life expectancy15–20 years
      (Video) Is A Dog Really Smarter Than A Cat? I Check the IQ of My Husky And Kitty

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (10)Michele Pevide/Getty Images

      8. Bengal

      The Bengal sports a jaw-dropping, highly contrasted coat of distinctive marbling—very similar to what you see on leopards and jaguars. Its striking beauty is why you should keep close tabs on your Bengal, as it’s the cat breed most often stolen. Beauty aside, this very confident and curious cat isn’t shy about asking you to play. Bengals tend to get a little set in their ways, so introducing new people and furry friends should be done at an early age, if possible. Need to lay down a few new house rules or teach it some tricks? No problem. Bengals pick those up lickety-split. Their athletic prowess is unmatched, but they need plenty of space to run, pounce, roam and jump—some even love to walk on a leash and explore the outdoors. Bengals are super sweet and often very chatty (here’s what their meows may mean) and happy to engage you in a conversation.

      Breed overview
      Height8–10 inches
      Weight8–16 pounds
      Life expectancy12–16 years

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (11)ginosphotos/Getty Images

      9. Korat

      Did you know that the smartest cat breeds could also bring you good fortune? The Korat is one of Thailand’s good luck cats, and no, they don’t mind if you pet them several times a day to increase your luck! Korats are freakishly observant and will watch everything you do. Don’t be surprised if they learn how to open their own box of treats. They’re a devoted companion, an outgoing feline and enjoy having guests in the house. One reason is they love to snoop. Like the nosy houseguest who peeks in your medicine cabinet, the Korat returns the favor, sniffing and investigating your guest’s shoes, purses, coats and anything else that piques their interest. Because Korats thrive when they are around people, being alone may cause cat anxiety.

      Breed overview
      Height9–13 inches
      Weight6–10 pounds
      Life expectancy10–15 years

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (12)Grace Cary/Getty Images

      10. Bombay

      Bred to look like the Indian black leopard, this midnight-black kitty walks with a sway much like its wild counterpart and is equally gorgeous and clever. Bombay cats are exceptionally friendly, outgoing and lovey-dovey. Family life is their jam, including younger humans and furry siblings. “The Bombay kitty is great at being trained, and they’re very motivated to show their people what they are capable of learning,” says Dr. Andino. These cats thrive with continuous education, learning new tricks and solving challenging interactive puzzles. And when the love bug hits them, watch out. They will hunt for your lap and crash there until they get enough pets and belly rubs.

      Breed overview
      Height9–13 inches
      Weight6–11 pounds
      Life expectancy12–16 years
      (Video) Most Talented Cats in the World | The Dodo

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (13)slowmotiongli/Getty Images

      11. Havana brown

      The brownie, as its fans dub it, is deeply connected to humans and savors affectionate companionship. (If “brownie” doesn’t cut it, try these funny cat names.) Havana browns insist on being involved in whatever you’re doing, yet they are remarkably sensitive and use both their paws to gently touch their humans. They share DNA with the Siamese, but their meows are quieter, charming and almost flirty. They might prefer the company of one favorite human over others in the family but tend to get along with humans of all ages, as well as furry roommates. Perhaps the most interesting characteristic is how they investigate. While most felines examine things with their nose, Havana browns use both their paws to check out trinkets and treasures.

      Breed overview
      Havana brown
      Height9–11 inches
      Weight8–12 pounds
      Life expectancy8–13 years

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (14)Viktor/Getty Images

      12. Singapura

      The Singapura is the smallest domestic cat breed, with a whole lot of feisty goodness in a tiny package. If those big saucer eyes and adorable face aren’t captivating enough to get your attention, you might need some catnip. And don’t let the small frame fool you. Under that fur lies a muscular and athletic body. The Singapura is a social butterfly, always looking to be the center of attention, in the cutest, playful ways. They are the life of any party, whether they’re invited or not. Conversations with Singapuras are a pure delight as well and never get stale—you could listen to their sweet meows for hours, and they’ll love your high-pitched baby talk just as much. Keenly observant, intelligent and extroverted, these cats still act like kittens well into adulthood.

      Breed overview
      Height6–8 inches
      Weight5–8 pounds
      Life expectancy11–15 years


      Originally Published: January 23, 2023

      The 12 Smartest Cat Breeds That Are Equally Cute and Clever (15)

      Lisa Marie Conklin


      Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, Family Handyman and Taste of Home, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center.


      What is the most intelligent breed of cat? ›


      Regardless of where they come from, Abyssinian cats are known as the smartest cat breed due to their inquisitive nature and top-notch detective skills. They are incredibly independent, and they enjoy mind-stimulating activities like puzzle toys.

      What is the IQ of a cat? ›

      Within the encephalization quotient proposed by Jerison in 1973, values above one are classified big-brained, while values lower than one are small-brained. The domestic cat is attributed a value of between 1–1.71; relative to human value, that is 7.44–7.8.

      What is the sweetest cat ever? ›

      The Top 9 Friendliest Cat Breeds
      • Ragdoll. ...
      • Siamese. ...
      • Maine coon. ...
      • Sphynx. ...
      • Abyssinian. ...
      • Burmese. ...
      • Scottish fold. ...
      • Birman. The CFA describes the Birman as “the best friend you ever had.” This fluffy kitty is a gentle and quiet creature, often happy to socialize with both humans and other animals.

      What is the cutest cuddliest cat? ›

      Persian. One of the cuddliest cat breeds ever, the fluffy Persian cat has captured the hearts of many. Among friendly cat breeds, it's common to find a Persian cat waiting quietly and patiently for their humans to settle down so that they can sit on their laps.

      Which color cat is most friendly? ›

      Owners perceived their cats as being bold and friendly. Gray cats had the highest score for being as shy, aloof and intolerant, while orange cats had the highest scores for being trainable, friendly and calm. Tabbies the highest for bold and active, tricolor cats for stubborn, and bicolor cats for tolerant.

      How long can a cat remember a person? ›

      They can remember a person's face for up to 10 years! And kitties become seriously attached to their humans, so in case you were wondering, yes, your cat remembers and misses you when you're gone for a few weeks, and they absolutely mourn when a trusted companion drops out of their life.

      Who has higher IQ cats or dogs? ›

      Dogs, it turns out, have about twice the number of neurons in their cerebral cortexes than what cats have, which suggests they could be about twice as intelligent.

      Do cats know their names? ›

      According to a study1 published in 2019 in the journal Scientific Reports, cats do, in fact, recognize their own names. The lead author of the study is a behavioral scientist named Atsuko Saito from Sophia University in Tokyo, whose prior research2 demonstrated that cats can recognize their owners' voices.

      Who is smarter a cat or a baby? ›

      Based on several studies, behaviorists believe an adult cat's intelligence is comparable to that of a 2-year-old human toddler.

      How can I tell if my cat is smart? ›

      Signs of cat intelligence: Your cat quickly learns new tricks; easily differentiates between different events and/or items; rapidly solves food puzzles; and is very responsive to your emotions, gestures, or pointing cues.

      What makes a cat cuddly? ›

      They're trying to bond with you.

      In cat's world, cuddle time is productive bonding time. Your kitty needs you for food, warmth, and shelter, and sometimes all they want is show you how much they love and appreciate you. Your cat's headbutts, cuddles, and purrs are all tokens of affection and appreciation.

      What is the most loved cat? ›

      Persian Cats

      Persian cats are not only the most popular breed of cats, they've also been around the longest.

      What is the rarest cat ever? ›

      The Sokoke cat is said to be the rarest cat in the world. Rather than being a man-created breed, the Sosoke is a naturally occurring, tiny wildcat that can be found only in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Preserve in Kenya (Africa).

      What is the most clingy cat breed? ›

      Burmese are often considered to be the most affectionate cat breed. They love being with people at all times and crave close physical contact, making them the ultimate companion cat for a devoted family. They will follow their owner from room to room and prefer to cuddle up on the sofa or sleep in bed with them.

      What breed is grumpy cat? ›

      Grumpy Cat was definitely a mixed breed and her family noted that she looked like she may have had some Persian, Ragdoll or Snowshoe in her. The family didn't breed Grumpy Cat so unfortunately, her lineage ended with her. Known for her grumpy expression, Tardar Sauce wasn't permanently perturbed in real life.

      What is the least needy cat breed? ›

      British Shorthair.

      The British Shorthair is noted for its undemanding personality and easygoing temperament. Affectionate but not needy, the British Shorthair may be your ideal companion, especially if you are looking for a breed that is able to amuse itself and can stay out of trouble while you're away from home.

      Are boy or girl cats easier? ›

      Male cats tend to be more social and affectionate with both humans and other cats. They commonly form strong bonds with other cats in the home, even when they are not from the same litter. Females, on the other hand, are often more standoffish. If you are looking for a cuddle bug, adopting a male may be your best bet.

      What is the most stubborn cat breed? ›

      1. Tonkinese. Known to be stubborn when it comes to getting their own way, these lovable cats really just want your attention 24/7.

      What color cat is least adopted? ›

      Entirely or primarily black cats will be less likely adopted—and more likely euthanized—than cats of other colors.

      What color annoys cats? ›

      Since most of their world is blue, yellow, and gray, there aren't any colors in there that stand out as irritating. That being said, white can be bothersome to some cats.

      What Colour cat gets adopted the most? ›


      Gray cats and orange tabbies get adopted at the highest rates, according to their numbers. (However, those numbers vary from what the ASPCA estimates—in the Priceonomics study, brown cats were more likely to get adopted than black cats, for instance.)

      Do cats get sad when you leave? ›

      Short answer: yes. When their needs for companionship are not met, cats can become depressed. They can also get separation anxiety. Unfortunately, feline separation anxiety often goes unnoticed until it becomes severe.

      Where your cat sleeps on your bed and what it means? ›

      If your cat sleeps on your bed, he may choose a position that lets him see out your bedroom door more easily. If he's curled up in a ball under your bed or in a quiet corner, then he may be hiding. Cats who sleep under the covers might love being close to you, or they might be hiding to feel safer.

      Do cats recognize their owners face? ›

      Cats cannot differentiate between human faces and do not care how you look like. Unlike dogs, they would not even try to differentiate human faces. In an experiment conducted by an American university, the kitties could recognize their handlers less than 50 percent of their time.

      Are cats more loyal than dogs? ›

      C ats are just as loyal as dogs and children, according to new research. Although feline pets are seen as distant and aloof, researchers claim this is an unfair myth. Study leader Dr Kristyn Vitale of Oregon State University, said: “Cats that are insecure can be likely to run and hide or seem to act aloof.

      Can cats be loyal? ›

      While many people think that cats are standoffish and aloof, the truth is that they are loyal, loving companions (just like dogs).

      Do cats love their owners? ›

      And the answer is a resounding yes! Cats often feel love quite strongly for their owners and other companions. They're just sometimes a little more subtle about it than dogs. Have you ever asked yourself, "What do cats think about their owners?" The answer is that they think pretty highly of us.

      What smells do cats like the most? ›

      Catnip and More.

      Many herbs we use in cooking are safe and fun for cats to sniff, and some are known to be feline favorites. Catnip, part of the mint family, affects many cats with a scent-induced kitty “high.” Silver vine has a similar effect. And valerian can energize cats.

      Do cats like sleeping with humans? ›

      Cats are very vulnerable when they are sleeping and like to find a place, or person, that they trust to sleep on. When they sleep with their owner they are confirming to you that they trust you. While your cat does trust you they also want to keep warm and they love the heat from their humans.

      What big cat has the highest IQ? ›

      Leopards are the ultimate cats. They are the most feline, the most intelligent, the most dangerous and, until recently, one of the least understood. They hunt from South Africa to Siberia, from Arabia to Sri Lanka, and are the most widespread predator of their size on land.

      What is the most expensive kitten? ›

      Ashera Cat | >$125,000

      The Ashera cat is considered the most expensive cat breed in the world, with prices reaching up to $100,000 or more. This is due to its rarity and the fact that it is a hybrid breed, created by breeding an African serval, an Asian leopard cat, and a domestic house cat.

      What is the most unique cat? ›

      Sphynx. This bald feline is easily one of the most unique-looking breeds in the world. The result of a genetic mutation, the Sphynx's hairless body feels like a soft peach to the touch.

      What type of cat is least popular? ›

      1. Sokoke Cat. The Sokoke Cat is the rarest domestic cat breed in the world, according to the UK's Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).

      What is the least cuddly cat breed? ›

      Some of the least affectionate breeds of cats include the American Wirehair, Korat, Singapura and Cymric. “The American Wirehair tends to be pretty reserved and quiet, which some would consider not particularly affectionate. The Korat is somewhat passive and can be spooked easily by loud noises.

      Why do cats tap you with their paws? ›

      Cats will knead on many types of soft surfaces, including their humans (especially when you are petting them). Besides being another way to mark you using the scent glands on their paw pads, your cat kneading you is a sign they feel comfortable around you. Kneading is an instinctive cat behavior.

      What is the stealthiest big cat? ›

      Mountain lions are the stealthiest of cats, hunting prey two to three times their own size.

      What is the sweetest kitten? ›

      Scottish Fold - the sweetest feline

      The Scottish Fold is the happiest when next to their human owners. They're so keen to participate in all the activities that you will soon start suspecting they have no idea they're actually a cat and not a human.

      What is the friendliest color cat? ›

      Orange cats were regarded as the friendliest by respondents, while white cats were labeled aloof, and tortoiseshell cats were thought to have too much "attitude." The subject was revisited in a University of California Davis study a few years later. This time, results were tabulated from 1,274 completed surveys.

      What cat is $1000? ›

      Most Expensive Cat Breeds In The World Bengal $1,000 – $10,000 These tiger cats are one of the more popular breeds in these days. Bengal cats have a beautiful coat with a striped pattern, making their coats appear like those of tigers.


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