Some cats keep their owners on their toes 24-7. Having a pet that is quick as a whip sure is fun and engaging, but not all of our fluffy buddies are Einsteins of the feline world. That doesn’t have to mean they are any less loveable, though. Some breeds are notoriously slow in understanding what their humans want from them, and today, we are going to talk about the dumbest cat breeds.
It is hard to define intelligence in a simple way. We all know what it means intuitively, but psychologists have been struggling with presenting a complete definition of intelligence for decades. Furthermore, it is impossible to apply the same standards for it across all the species.
This article is going to introduce you to the breeds that are usually considered a bit slower in what humans would call intelligence, but we are also going to discuss the nature of feline behavior and what we actually mean by calling someone smart. As you may have realized, it is a much more complicated issue than it seems.
What Constitutes As “Dumb” Among Cats?
When we think of human intelligence, we think about cognitive abilities such as learning, problem-solving, and communication skills. We also identify intelligence with the ability to memorize and correlate facts and understand abstract concepts. These are all things that made humans what they are today—beings with a complex society, artificial structures, and advanced science.
But when we think of the animal world, the picture changes a lot. We just can’t use the same measures to evaluate animal intelligence. The most important obstacle is an ability on which humans rely so much—language. Without it, we can never be certain how animals think and what is the logic behind their actions.
This is why scientists who study intelligence in animals use the “g factor” to go around this issue. G factor stands for “general intelligence” and describes a score on many different cognitive tasks. These cognitive tests usually include the animal’s ability to solve problems, change habits in new circumstances, and develop social behavior.
#1: Problem Solving Ability
Generally speaking, cats score pretty decently on the intelligence tests. It has been shown that felines have a fully developed concept of object permanence (meaning that they are fully aware of the existence of the object even when it can no longer be perceived), they have complex dreams just like humans, and excellent long-term memory.
However, there are some things that are quite different. For example, it has been shown that cats don’t understand cause and effect in the same way humans do. But the question is: do they need to?
Intelligence is an evolutionary development, and every species hones only the skills needed for survival and successful breeding. In other words, the first rule of evolution is: what you don’t use, you lose. Cats, as predators, don’t have to understand certain concepts to be successful at hunting.
#2: Intelligence vs. Trainability
Humans seem to have a great fondness for animals which like to obey. We like to say how dogs are very intelligent animals, always eager to please their humans and quick to learn countless tricks. But does trainability really equal intelligence?
No, of course not. Even some dog breeds which are considered stupid are just bred to perform tasks which do not include humans, making them less susceptible to human influence. The same goes for cats. Felines have not been bred to closely interact with humans. Whatsmore, history shows us that cats were usually left alone to do their business of exterminating rodents. Humans kept the cats who were good hunters, not those who were social butterflies.
Having said that, we hope this section helped you understand how calling a certain species dumb doesn’t make much sense in the animal world. The sole fact that the species is there, existing and thriving, is enough evidence of intelligence.
#3: Social Aptitudes
Humans usually correlate social aptitude and intelligence, but this is not a good measure for all species. Humans are pack animals, just like dogs. Animals that live in large groups tend to develop social structure, hierarchy, and complex communication skills. On the other hand, animals which are solitary or live in loose groups don’t have the need for all that.
We tend to think about those who act similar to us as intelligent, but that is insanely arrogant. Life, especially in the wild, is equally harsh to everyone and it takes a lot of skill and wit to survive a day. Some animals seek refuge in numbers; others prefer to walk alone.
Cats do have a certain social structure, but they are not pack animals like wolves or dogs. Hence, there is no need for intense bonding or complex communication patterns. Felines don’t have an intense desire to be a part of a group so they won’t try to be your buddy at all costs. A lone dog is a desperate animal; a lone cat is a badass. This is what rubs humans the wrong way, making them say cats are dumb, selfish, and weird.
10 Dumb Cat Breeds
Now that we have explained how there is no such thing as a dumb cat, let’s look at some breeds which are considered to be on the thickheaded side. The breeds described in this section are usually seen as lazy or inattentive by their owners. However, all of these breeds have fantastic character traits that make them amazing pets. So what if they are not going to entertain you with elaborate tricks?
A Persian cat seems to be on the top of every list. No wonder—this is by far the most popular cat breed in the world. This breed is known for its affection, gentle attitude, and calm, passive nature. This is probably why most people consider Persians a bit slow. Some owners even jokingly say Persians are just fluffy pieces of furniture!
This breed has a very laid back attitude towards most things in life, seemingly incapable of processing its surroundings. Maybe Persians just figured it’s better to enjoy life than cause unnecessary commotion.
#2: Exotic Shorthair
OK, we have to admit that a round face, huge eyes, and a flat nose don’t exactly leave the impression of divine brilliance. Exotic Shorthairs are closely related to Persians and meet the same standard when it comes to personality traits. Maybe they are a bit more active than their fluffy relatives, but Exotics are far from active cats.
This breed has a very meek nature and will resort to avoiding strange objects and unfamiliar places, rather than expressing curiosity. This makes them shy rather than dumb, and can be dealt with if novelty is introduced with patience and a gentle attitude.
#3: American Shorthair
You know how some people hear you, but just don’t care what you’re saying? Here is the feline counterpart. American Shorthairs are great mousers and descend from ship cats, making them one of the most important companions to the great explorers who brought them to the New World. But they brought the cattitude as well.
They don’t lack cognitive proves, but they don’t give a rat’s behind about your complaints. Selective hearing should be included into this breed’s standard.
We are sure that owning an American Shorthair is a humbling experience, but one shouldn’t resort to calling them dumb, don’t you agree?
Another member of the Persian family, coming from a Persian and a Siamese mix. Now, this is a strange combination, if you think about it. A Persian, all calm and gentle, and a Siamese, the daredevil of the house cats. What came out of this clash of the characters resulted in a very goofy, adorable looking cat that doesn’t often think before doing stuff.
Some owners say Himmies have an “inborn death wish” because they can be very unaware of dangerous situations. Yes, they are a bit derpy, but incredibly loyal and loving pets.
Ragdolls are large and heavy cats, often called the gentle giants of the feline world. They are very docile and friendly towards children, pets, and humans, making it look like they don’t care what’s happening around them. Ragdolls are also quite adaptable, sometimes to such levels that one owner said: “When we moved, there was no reaction from my Ragdoll whatsoever. I’m not sure if she even noticed it’s a different apartment.”
Such Buddha-like state of mind leads people to believe this breed isn’t much of a thinker. This is very misleading. Ragdolls are very emotional cats and can suffer if not provided with attention and love.
#6: Scottish Fold
The trademark of this breed, apart from the obvious folded ears, is the so-called “Buddha position.” These cats like to sit in the same way humans do, with their paws resting on the belly, giving them a somewhat lazy and silly appearance.
While they are very social and affectionate, Scottish Folds are not interested in learning anything more than where their food bowl is placed. You will get all the love you can wish for, but don’t expect this cat to thrive in unfamiliar places and challenging situations. They are lovers, not the world’s greatest adventurers.
Somali cats are the monkeys of the feline family. They love to “work with their hands” so to speak, and are known to hold objects, toys, and food in their paws as if no one told them that cats have no opposable thumbs.
They don’t lack in the playfulness department, but are very hard to teach proper house manners to due to their inquisitive nature. If they want to sit on the table during dinner, no amount of no’s can keep them on the floor. So, not really dumb, just playing by their own rules.
This gentle and calm kitty is the definition of endearing. But when it comes to wittiness, they might be more prone to meditation (Birmans were monastery cats to begin with, after all) than learning tricks and solving problems.
We don’t see a problem here, really. Big families with a lot of children and other pets might not need a hellraiser, just a loving companion which brings emotional support in difficult times.
Korat is a breed of exceptionally loyal cats. They love being surrounded by their humans and thrive in a safe, familiar environment. The problems only occur when their human family decides to move…or even take a car ride with the cat.
Korats are very slow to adapt to new places and can take months to adapt to a change in a living space. In the meantime, they can be fussy, melodramatic, and refuse to come out of their hiding place.
Korats are not dumb per se, but they really don’t like change. If you decide to get a cat of this breed, make sure to socialize them early and make them understand that change is sometimes good, if not necessary.
Snowshoe, or the “faulty Siamese,” is a breed with all white paws and beautiful white markings on the head, accented with a pair of blue eyes. A true beauty—but did all the glory go to the looks department? Well, it depends on who you’re asking.
People who like their cats to be proactive and obedient will definitely say yes, but owners with a more free-spirited attitude just say this breed is mischievous. Snowshoes are highly social and people loving, but obedience is not their strong side. The word “no” is just not in their dictionary.
Intelligence is a very individual trait. Saying that the whole breed is just dumb or lazy doesn’t bring it much justice. Of course, there are many factors that can influence intelligence, one of them being the pedigree.
Animals that are poorly bred, or even worse, inbred, can have a lot of problems, low intelligence being one of them. So if you want a smarty pants, make sure to buy from a responsible breeder.
When we say a cat is smart, we usually mean “dog smart.” Those kitties that like to follow us around, play fetch or like to perform tricks are on the top of every smart cat list. But we find it very unfair to compare two species which evolved and were bred in very different ways.
Besides, your “dumb kitty” is a creature fed, taken care of, and adored by someone who asks for nothing in return… Isn’t that pretty clever?
Did you take fancy to any of the breeds mentioned above? Do you know of any other cat breeds which are adorably dumb? Let us know in the comments section below! You might also want to check out our next article on how smart are cats, just in case your cat really is smart—you just didn’t know it.