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What breed of cat is smartest?

The Seven Smartest Cat Breeds

I honestly believe that all cats are intelligent. After all, they’ve all easily trained us to wait on their every command. They demand food and we eagerly provide, we pet them when they choose, and we are allowed to love them on their terms. Seems like they are tiny geniuses, right? Well, as it turns out, scientifically speaking there are certain cat breeds that are considered to be the smartest cat breeds of all. Wondering what they are?

Here’s my list of the seven smartest cat breeds…

smartest cat breeds


These ballerinas of the cat world are known for their loud meows. But don’t let those crazy meows fool you, these intelligent cats are the masters at getting what they want—your undivided attention. The Siamese cat is a clingy cat breed, and they do best in a calm and relaxed environment where they can receive the attention they crave. Should your Siamese cat become bored, you will be the first to know as they are not shy at hiding their discontent. The Siamese often comes in on many lists of the smartest cat breeds. Although it’s true that some cats can be smarter than other cats within a breed, Siamese cats are well-known for their intelligence.

smartest cat breeds


Not only is the Sphynx one of the smartest cat breeds that there is, but they’re also one of the friendliest, too. These Canadian cats are curious, loyal, and very intelligent. And those smarts of theirs are perfectly matched with their silly disposition. These affectionate cats love to cuddle and won’t be shy about letting you know when they want more stimulation. Fun fact about this breed you may not have known: they require weekly baths!

smartest cat breeds


These pint-sized house leopards with superb stripes can master tricks and learn new things with ease. Their curiosity can often get the best of them, and they are quite vocal and demanding when they want something, too. Bengal cats are the only domestic cats with rosette markings that mimic big cats including leopards, jaguars, and ocelots. The Bengal cat is as smart as it is active, so puzzle games and other enrichment toys are a great match for their sharp wits.

smartest cat breeds


I’ve always loved these ticked-coat cuties. The Abyssinian cat is sleek, athletic, and a true sight to behold. Their coats are often seen in the classic cinnamon shade, but they also come in fawn or blue, too. These cats got their name from the land which they hail, Abyssinia—now known as Ethiopia. Abyssinian cats are often high on the list of the smartest cat breeds. They spend their days exploring and climbing and are happiest when they are being mentally stimulated. And when it comes to what you’re doing, don’t be surprised if an Abyssinian cat always feels the need to micromanage it.

smartest cat breeds

See also

Why Does My Cat Stare At The Wall?

Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex is a unique looking feline that has never met a stranger. They excel at learning new things and love to entertain their owners with their endless kooky cat antics. The body of the Cornish Rex is almost like the Whippet of the dog world, with fine curly hair all over its body. These cats are super active and need to find stimulating means to expend their boundless energy. Cornish Rex cats are very interactive with people, and they love to be the center of attention. And because they’re so smart, they aim to impress you with their intelligent cat behavior.

smartest cat breeds


The Burmese cat is as stunning as they are intelligent. They can be easily leash trained and their strongest desire is to do whatever their humans are doing. Miss Rigby the Boat Kitty is a perfect example of just how smart, fearless, and energetic these cats can be. They can do everything a dog can do—and true to cat form, even better! These striking cats are medium-sized with solid bodies, round heads, and gorgeously expressive eyes that cast their spell on you. Their coloring is usually a darker brown, but you might even see a Burmese cat which is chocolate, champagne, or even lilac.

smartest cat breeds

Scottish Fold

The Scottish Fold cat might be most famous for their folded ears or signature Buddha-style sitting posture, but they are also on many lists of smartest cat breeds. These cats are the preferred breed of choice for the richest cat lady on Earth, Ms. Taylor Swift, and it’s easy to see why given their many charming qualities. Fun Scottish Fold cat fact for you: not all Scottish Fold cats have classic folded ears. These are known as “unfolded” Scottish Folds. The folding of their ears comes as a result of a naturally dominant-gene mutation that affects cartilage throughout the cat’s body. For this reason, Scottish Fold cats are not to be bred with other Scottish Fold cats. Instead, they are bred with American or British Shorthair cats.

Experts Say These Are the Smartest Cat Breeds

Zee is a former associate digital editor for

Published on July 12, 2019
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closeup of a cat's face

As any pet owner will tell you—Martha included—that if you’re looking for a clever companion, a cat will certainly do the trick. While all furry felines enjoy a certain sharp-witted reputation, there are a few breeds that lead the pack when it comes to intelligence.

Compared to dogs, which tend to be more obedient, cats display their heightened intelligence in other ways: «Unlike dogs, many cats are not likely to ‘live to please’ their owners. Cats generally only cooperate when they want to—more intelligent cats do tend to display more problem solving characteristics such as finding things,» says Dr. Gary Richter, DVM, founder of Ultimate Pet Nutrition. Recent research confirms this: Cats can recognize their own name, but choose to respond only if they wish to do so. Intelligent felines are often recognized by their owners as those who are willing to learn about the environment and by how social they are with those around them.

As it turns out, some of the most clever breeds are often found up for adoption in shelters across the country. According to Dr. Travis Arndt, director of the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America, you can use resources like to search nearby areas for cats you may be interested in. «Visit with as many cats or kittens you’d like before deciding which cat to adopt,» Arndt says. «This will allow you to find the cat that will best fit in with your family and household.»

We spoke with veterinarians and leading cat behaviorists about the traits that smart cats exude on a regular basis. These breeds are known for their attuned behavior around their owners. «Some of these breeds are better problem solvers, some are better athletes, and others just like to ‘hang out,'» Richter says. «People looking for a smarter cat should also consider that smarter animals tend to be the most mischievous as well.» Are you up for the challenge? Follow along as we share more on the smartest cat breeds.

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Mixed Breed / Domestic Short Hair (DSH)

Domestic short haired cat licking its lips

Out of all of the breeds on this list, this one is most likely to be found in local shelters and adoption events, says Dr. Amanda Landis-Hanna, DVM, the senior manager of veterinary outreach at PetSmart Charities. If you’re looking to train a cat, they’re also one of the most adaptive breeds out there. «[These cats] are often very bright, and can frequently be trained tricks or skills. They respond well to positive reinforcement such as a favorite treat,» she says.

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Siamese cat laying on a bed of straw

Nearly all leading cat behaviorists and veterinarians agree: Siamese cats are some of the best communicators with their humans. «They tend to be very vocal, especially when they want something, and therefore train their people very quickly,» Arndt says. «Siamese cats are affectionate and active—they get bored easily, so providing opportunities for training will help keep this breed from becoming potentially destructive in your home.»

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Abyssinian cat on staircase

«Abyssinian cats are active cats who love to climb and play,» says Arndt. If you have plenty of room in your home for your cat to explore, this breed may be for you—they love to sleuth around all of your nooks and crannies, and you can often find them on «catwalks» high above everyone else. «While they aren’t always lap cats, they tend to enjoy the company of humans and other cats,» he says.

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Bengal Cat Sitting on Post

In his research, Richter says that bengals «are among the more intelligent breeds of domestic cats» because they often respond best to plenty of stimulation. They’re also one of the best cat breeds to leash train, if that’s an interest of yours, according to Purina.

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Burmese cat lying on bed

According to Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH, founder of the Animal Acupuncture practice in New York City, these cats are very in tune with their owners. «Burmese cats can read the moods of their owners and form strong bonds with them and other animals. They also love to be the center of attention,» she says.

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Tonkinese Cats in a Laundry Barrel

«Social, active, and attention seeking, Tonkinese cats are some of the smartest around,» Barrack says. «They’re so intelligent, they actually get bored easily of playing with the same toys. You’ll have to provide them with a variety of interactive toys to keep them satisfied.»

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Scottish Fold

Scottish Fold Cat sitting on a bed

Maybe you’re searching for a cat that loves to play? Barrack says these felines are known for their quick training skills. «They love to learn new tricks like opening doors or playing fetch as well as can easily adapt to new environments and form strong bonds with humans,» she says.

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Savannah Cat Sitting on a Bed

These are some of the prettiest kitties around—and they have the brains to match, says Landis-Hanna. «They are known for becoming mischievous when bored, so keep their minds occupied with treat puzzles or vertical climbing structures. Just watch your head, as you might wind up with a cat on your shoulder!»

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Japanese Bobtail

Japanese Bobtail in a Garden

According to Barrack, this curious kitty is actually a really big fan of water—so much so that baths will be fun instead of a chore. «Japenese Bobtails love playtime, especially when it involves their owners or solving a puzzle toy,» she says. «They also know how to relax on their owner’s lap at the end of a long day.»

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Maine Coon

Maine Coon Cat Sitting on a Carpet

Compared to other breeds, Maine Coon cats are some of the largest of the bunch. Landis-Hanna says they’re very affectionate and just as intelligent as others on this list, but they far outperform other cats in the athletic department. «They need a parent who can play games to help them exercise and stay fit,» she says.

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Cornish Rex Cat

Cornish Rex Cat Sitting on Carpet

They may seem quiet, but don’t mistake the Cornish Rex’s calm demeanor for being shy—they love to be scratched and petted, and are very sociable, Barrack says. Since they’re so calm, these cats enjoy a reputation of being perfect for therapy training. «They love being held by humans, playing fetch, and lounging in a comfy lap,» Barrack says.

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