None of us like to feel that our animals are dumb or “less gifted.” It’s grossly unfair to classify our animals in that way. In most cases, we’re measuring intelligence by human standards, which might not be the best way to do so, especially when it comes to cats and other pets.
We are also sometimes guilty of measuring cat intelligence, for example, against dog intelligence. They are two completely different species and are quite used to doing things differently. Scientists claim to have specific tests standardized to measure animal intelligence, like problem-solving skills, to prove this.
But let’s be completely honest here. It really doesn’t matter how “smart” or “dumb” our cats are. We love them all the same. That said, we can forgive ourselves a sneaky chuckle at their expense now and again, mainly if it results from baffling behavior.
These breeds are most likely to leave you perplexed, nominating themselves as the dumbest cat breeds on the planet.
Why We Can’t Say These Cats Are Dumb For Certain
By our own admittedly low standards, we might consider a cat dumb if it does something goofy or bizarre by our consideration. Some have even asked whether their cat can be autistic. (No, it can’t.)
That’s no objective measure, though, as we often forget that the cat lives in an environment designed for humans. It does not socialize in the same way we do, and how it interacts with its environment is influenced by a great many things. Still, they can provide a chuckle when we see something odd, and if we can’t have fun with our cats, what’s the point of owning one?
In slightly more scientific terms, the cat’s ability to socialize with others or the ability to be trained might be considered a more accurate measure of intelligence. Even this is subjective, though. What rule in nature says that a cat is supposed to be trainable?
At any rate, here are the breeds that seem not to fare as well as others when it comes to anecdotal intelligence reports.
1. American Shorthair
If you manage to start training from an early age, you may enjoy the benefit of a cat that will at least look at you when you’re talking to it. It may even learn to get off the table when you want it to.
American shorthairs do have a reputation for having minds of their own, though. Even if you know it understands you, it may not necessarily obey you. These cats are quite self-confident and prefer to be their own boss.
They are excellent hunters, though. This might be why they seem to be saying they don’t really need us around. “Keep your instructions! I know what I’m doing.”
Side fact: American Shorthairs live a long time, sometimes 15-20 years on average.
The jury is out on whether Birman is actually intellectually challenged or just plain stubborn. Many owners forgive them for their tantrums, though. They are extremely cuddly and affectionate. It’s a pity, then, that it takes a very long time for them to understand commands and training.
Oddly, the Birman is less likely to meow back at you and instead will physically act out when it’s frustrated. It may actually stamp its paws when it gets angry! They will keep an eye on you but seldom demand too much attention.
Owners say that Birmans have a very annoying tendency to go missing. In part, this may be because they like exploring their space, and get lost or stuck more often than most other breeds.
3. British Shorthair
Cats sleep a lot. And as cats go, the British shorthair may be the breed that sleeps the most. They are typically somewhat laid back (some prefer the word lazy), and therefore don’t do well with communication, play, or anything that requires too much brain power.
On the upside, their calm nature makes them great for family homes and apartments.
4. Exotic Shorthair
The somewhat sad-looking, flat-faced exotic shorthair is adorable, make no mistake. They are also very affectionate. It’s a low-maintenance cat when it comes to grooming, owing to its short coat.
Of the cats on this list, they are also more likely to learn a few things around the home and even a trick or two. But be warned, they are lazy. It has something to do with their genetic relationship with Persians, another lazy breed.
But training will require patience. More complex instructions may hit a brick wall. It’s a good idea to start young with these cuties.
As a combination of Persian and Siamese breeds, Himalayans are another stubborn breed of cat that will only partially take to training… if they feel like it. This surprised breeders, given the Siamese tendency to be very active and curious. The Himalayan took after the Persian when it came to personality.
One of the commonly-reported problems with Himalayans is their seeming inability or unwillingness to take to litter box training.
Adding to their difficulty is the constant need for grooming, not to mention their innate ability to simply ignore you. They are also strangely quiet, preferring not to chat or meow very much.
Korats are beautiful; there’s no denying that. They are associated with a legacy in their native Thailand and show off an excellent blue coat that contrasts wonderfully with their green eyes. On the downside, they are not the most vibrant when it comes to intellect.
They are accomplished lap cats, and perhaps this history has dulled their desire to hunt and interact with more active elements of their home. Experts insist that they are, in fact, intelligent. It’s hard to see this, though, when the Korat would rather laze about with its human.
Munchkins and their odd looks are often the subjects of some sort of ridicule, despite being one of the most beloved breeds of the cat fanciers’ world. Munchkins or dwarf cats were once not even expected to have full healthy lives. Thankfully, the breed has persisted.
Some cat experts have noted that Munchkins do have some particular peculiarities, though. Among them is their penchant for hiding in hard-to-access places. Should they indeed hunt successfully, they will likely secret themselves and their loot into places we wouldn’t find them.
These and other behaviors have led some to believe that they may not be all that smart.
Putting their intelligence (or lack thereof) aside for a moment, Persians can look rather odd. Their fairly flat face makes them look grumpy a lot of the time, and their thick coats make for labor-intensive self-grooming.
Perhaps because of all this self-care, they seldom have time to interact outside of sleep time. Some even seem to consider you a mild inconvenience to their home life.
It doesn’t help that they are excessively passive (or lazy). They would rather find a soft pillow to lie on than venture out into the garden. This brings us to a good idea of investing in a good hair remover if you own furniture, clothes, and a Persian cat.
Ragdolls got their name when it was discovered that they are docile to the point of going limp in your arms. The downside of that is that they don’t seem to be very enthusiastic about training or picking up habits you would prefer them to.
Any attempt to instruct or command a theme is likely to be met with a blank stare, if anything at all. And, as mentioned, when you physically need to pick them up to move them, they just flop out. At least they don’t startle easily. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.
10. Scottish Fold
This is another breed that does not do well with training. For example, you’ll have to work hard to condition it to stay off the table. Is anything more complex than that?
They are lovable and friendly, though owners often report difficulty in getting the cat to learn some behaviors, like using a cat flap.
The smartness or dumbness of this cat is debatable. On the one hand, it’s not great with learning habits and training. On the other hand, it will seem to do just enough to earn the treat. You have to wonder whether this is a smart ploy to simply get you to give them what they want. If so, it’s a worldwide conspiracy between Serengetis.
If it does help, think of this cat as independently-minded.
Snowshoes have a very appealing meow that gives the impression of loving people. Snowshoes are also notoriously lazy. They will not be very interested in play and exercise unless it’s absolutely required. As a result, they tend not to participate in training and social activities.
They also tend to attach to one person in the home and claim them. Once you are chosen, be prepared to give lots of attention or face the wrath of an ignored cat. They may act out or become mean if they feel ignored, much like what happens with separation anxiety. You may even find some shredded items around your home before too long.
Another cat for whom intelligence is a matter of interpretation is the Somali. Some say this is a highly intelligent cat. They can learn tricks, and figure out some pretty impressive solutions to problems. Indeed, if you have cupboards that are in any way easy to open, expect a Somali to inspect them.
On the other hand, these cats are so sociable they will be friends with anyone. Some have interpreted their seemingly constant state of happiness to be oafish and silly.
We know that cats generally don’t care much for our opinion of them. In fact, they sometimes don’t think much of us at all, it seems. Beyond that, it’s probably not all that important to establish whether your cat is intelligent or not.
The key thing to bear in mind is that cats are very independent in several ways. Sometimes, this means being independent of logic as well. All we need to know is that it is safe, warm, and cuddly.
Want some more cat wisdom? Read these funny cat quotes from famous people.