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10 Smartest Cat Breeds (With Pictures)

Sophie Herlihy

By Sophie Herlihy

siamese cat sitting on the floor

All of us cat lovers and owners know that cats dance to the beat of their own drums. Their enigmatic ways and independent spirits make what goes on in their heads much more of a mystery to us.

Measuring the intelligence of a cat is not as simple as a dog, which can be judged on their trainability. While some cats respond to training, many simply choose not to engage, not from lack of intelligence rather lack a desire to please their humans!

Cats are much more intelligent than we give them credit for; however, not all breeds are created equal. If you are looking for a breed of cat to add extra spice and entertainment to your home, you won’t need to look much further than this list of most intelligent cat breeds.

Top 10 Smartest Cat Breeds:

1. Siamese Cat

siamese cat by the window
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay
Weight: 8–15 pounds
Color: Seal, chocolate, lilac, blue
Lifespan: 11–15 years

Siamese is perhaps one of the most distinctive breeds of cats. With their unique face and head shape, stunning blue eyes, and light body coloration a stark contrast to their colored points, they are indeed striking to look at.

In addition to their beauty, Siamese is known for their chatty and inquisitive nature. These talkative cats love to spend as much time as possible with their human family, insisting on being involved in all your activities at home.

Their curious nature couples with their quick wit to successfully engage in a range of puzzle-related toys and activities. They quickly grasp new concepts and will thrive on a range of differing and rotating toys and enriching items.

2. Bengal Cat

bengal cat lying on the floor
Image Credit: lshman000, Pixabay
Weight: 6–18 pounds
Color: Orange and brown marbling
Lifespan: 12–16 years

For those with lazy cats, the range of cat exercise wheels on the market may confuse us. But those high-energy cat accessories are created with breeds such as the Bengal in mind. This alluring breed is known for its exotic physical features. Their long, lean bodies slink about with grace, adorned with patterns resembling their leopard cousins.

Kept in the home, this high-energy and intelligent breed needs extra care. Catios and exercise equipment is recommended. They also quickly learn to be walked on a leash as they enjoy exploring the outside world.

Without lots of stimulation and entertainment, the smarts of the Bengal can easily lead them astray. Some owners report their Bengals learning to open kitchen drawers of flick light switches.

3. Abyssinian Cat

Abyssinian cat in kitchen
Image Credit: Ingus Kruklitis, Shutterstock
Weight: 9–17 pounds
Color: Ruddy, red, fawn, silver
Lifespan: 9–15 years

Believed to be the breed of cats worshiped by ancient Egyptians, the Abyssinian is sometimes called “Cats from the Blue Nile.” However, Abyssinians are also called the clowns of the cat world. Donning another nickname, “Aby-grabbys” for their tendency to grab things that pique their curiosity.

Abyssinians show off their high intelligence with an adventurous spirit, leaving no cranny unexplored in the home. They also show a great deal of social intelligence, getting along with everyone, including children, other cats, and other pets.

While they are exceptionally social and affectionate, their pride limits your hands-on interaction with the Abyssinian. While they will spend a great deal of time with you, don’t expect them to be lap cats nor to tolerate being picked up against their will.

4. Burmese Cat

Closeup Burmese Cat Stands on Gray background
Image Credit: Seregraff, Shutterstock
Weight: 8–15 pounds
Color: Blue/gray, lavender, chocolate, lilac
Lifespan: 10–17 years

The Burmese breed is the perfect showcase cat for those who proclaim not to be cat people! Burmese are often described as “dog-like” in their qualities as they are highly social, interactive, and endlessly entertaining.

Playing and interacting with humans is some of their favorite past times, with many Burmese gripping the games of fetch, tag, and hide-and-seek! While they will happily play alone, Burmese will always check to see if you are watching their antics around the home.

This canine nature in a feline body makes Burmese a favorite choice for those looking for a bright and fun cat. However, Burmese don’t like to be left alone for long periods due to their social and emotional needs, so they may need someone with lots of time or extra feline companions.

5. Cornish Rex Cat

bicolor Cornish Rex
Image Credit: Okssi, Shutterstock
Weight: 6–10 pounds
Color: White, black, red, blue, cream, tan, chocolate
Lifespan: 11–15 years

Most cats have a 3-layers coat made up of different types and textures of fur. The Cornish Rex stands out from many other breeds by possessing only the first layer of down fur. This gives them a unique coat appearance and texture that resembles tight waves or curls. In addition to this strange coat, The Cornish Rex are identifiable by their prominent bat-like ears.

If their physical appearance does not spark conversation amongst your visitors, their personality surely will! The Cornish Rex is spirited and bold, and they are friendly to most humans and animals and will happily greet strangers like old friends.

Most Cornish Rex cats are also open to training and learning. They will quickly display verbal and non-verbal ways of communicating with you and pick up new tricks quickly. They enjoy the mental stimulation and will benefit from the addition of puzzle toys in the home.

6. Turkish Angora Cat

Tortoiseshell Turkish Angora standing in grey background
Image Credit: COULANGES, Shutterstock
Weight: 8–15 pounds
Color: White, calico, tabby, red, brown, gray
Lifespan: 9–14 years

As you likely would have already guessed, this breed originated in Turkey. When they almost became extinct, they were bred in a zoo to preserve their genes before being introduced to North America.

Striking in their appearance, Turkish Angoras can come in various colors, but the most prevalent is a brilliant snow white. Combined with a luxuriously long coat, this creates a lovely and sought-after looking cat.

Turkish Angoras show off their superior intelligence with their interactions with humans and other animals, as well as their energetic play. While this breed has higher rates of deafness than other breeds, it doesn’t hold them back. They are known to learn commands with ease, both verbal and visual.

7. Scottish Fold Cat

black scottish fold
Image Credit: OlgaVolkovitskaia, Pixabay
Weight: 6–13 pounds
Color: Silver, fawn, blue, black, tan, red
Lifespan: 11–14 years

This adorable breed is a relatively new one. Scottish folds first emerged in the US in the 1960s, being officially established in the ‘70s. Since becoming an official breed, they have skyrocketed in popularity, and it’s not hard to see why. Their namesake refers to their folded ears which give them an adorable “teddy-bear” look.

In addition to being unbelievably cute, Scottish Folds are known for their smarts; in particular, they are known to be emotionally intelligent. This breed is very intuitive of human emotion and mood, often seen studying people and their surroundings. It is also common for Scottish Folds to engage and respond to media, such as TV and radio.

Being very human-centric, the Scottish Fold is a perfect companion for homes where someone is often home as they don’t like to be left alone for very long. They are also mostly indifferent to other pets but may bond over time.

8. Balinese Cat

balinese cat
Image Credit: SJ Duran, Shuttertock
Weight: 8–15 pounds
Color: White, orange, blue, tan, chocolate, fawn, lilac
Lifespan: 15–20 years

The Balinese cat breed is identical to the Siamese breed but fluffier! A long-haired Siamese, the Balinese share all the Siamese’s unique qualities, including incredible intelligence.

Balinese are great conversationalists, always happy to chat away with their human companions, which is mighty cute in the light of day, but less appealing at the 5 am breakfast calls! Underneath their seemingly enormous coat, the Balinese are relatively slim and delicate.

Like other intelligent and engaging cat breeds, the Balinese can get into trouble if not provided enough attention and stimulation, so they thrive in households with lots of people and when given plenty of enriching toys.

9. Korat Cat

Korat cat resting on furniture
Image Credit: Gino Santa Maria, Shutterstock
Weight: 6­–10 pounds
Color: Blue/gray
Lifespan: 10–15 years

As you’ve probably already picked up, many highly intelligent cat breeds also hold other intense personality traits, such as being loud, active, and needy. If you are looking for a breed that is smarter than the average moggy, but still not too much of a handful, then the perfectly balanced Korat is for you.

At first glance, the Korat may look like an ordinary domestic Shorthair breed. Still, on closer look, its beautiful and subtle features pop out, including big round emerald eyes. These unassuming cats are deeply intelligent and form close emotional bonds with the people they spend the most time with.

Like the other clever kitties on our list, Korats love to play and are great problem solvers. They can quickly learn commands or tricks with the right motivation.

10. Japanese Bobtail Cat

Japanese bobtail on platform
Image Credit: Jaroslaw Kurek, Shutterstock
Weight: 6­–10 pounds
Color: Can be any, but the most common is white with colored spots
Lifespan: 9–15 years

While you may not have heard of this breed before, you have most definitely seen it. It’s a familiar sight in Asian restaurants or supermarkets. The Japanese Bobtail is the inspiration behind “Maneki-Neko,” the beckoning cat figurine.

Japanese Bobtails are thought to be good luck in Japanese culture, and all this praise must have gone to their heads because this breed is demanding and authoritative. When in charge, the Japanese Bobtail will delight its family with love and laughter, showing off their wits by engaging in many activities and games.

Socially intelligent, Japanese Bobtails get along with all matters of people and pets, very rarely feeling shy. Their outgoing nature will have them at your heels all day long and allow them to hold a fascinating conversation with you.

Final Thoughts

Just because a handful of breeds stand out in terms of intelligence, don’t think for one second that all cats aren’t clever. Many of our domestic cats may not seem wise to you simply as they would prefer to nap than learn any tricks (fair enough.)

However, if you are looking for a super intelligent and engaging cat, then this list of breeds will give you a great place to start. Be aware, though, that smart cats come with all kinds of other perks and traits you should be mindful of so you can give them the very best care.

Featured Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

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