Want To Know How Smart Your Cat Is? Test Your Kitty’s IQ!

a cat and a book
Cats demonstrate an ability to think and reason in several ways
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Michael W. Fox, DVM, author of Supercat: Raising the Perfect Feline Companion Hardcover May, 1991, offers these simple methods to measure various aspects of your cat’s intelligence. To be successful, he cautions, the tests require patience on the part of the person conducting the test and motivation from the cat being tested. Use a reward, either a toy or some food. Conduct the tests about one hour before feeding if food is the reward. Your cat’s temperament is also an issue. A strong-willed feline or a shy, fearful cat probably won’t score well on IQ tests and will be a poor learner in general. The ideal candidate for IQ testing and training is an outgoing kitty who’s cautious, but not foolhardy.

These exercises were formulated so pet owners could have fun while amusing and educating their cats. Dr. Fox has used the test on his cats only and doesn’t claim it to be scientific. He offers a scoring system merely for fun.

Conduct five trials of each test (i.e. do each exercise five times). For each correct trial, score 10 points; for each slower, confused response that eventually comes out right, score 5; and for each total failure, score 0. Out of a possible 200: anything above 150 is near genius, anything above 125 is superior, 100 is average, 50 isn’t so hot and below that, you either erred or your cat wasn’t motivated, Dr. Fox says.

Hide & Seek

Test: what’s your cat’s grasp of “object consistency”?,the idea that when an object is hidden it still exists.

This exercise can be conducted with either a toy or food. You’ll need a helper. First, prepare your cat for the test by throwing the toy or placing a teaspoon of food in varying places around the room and allowing him to find it. Then have your assistant restrain your cat about 8 to 10 feet away while you show him the toy or food. Place the reward under a towel and back off to one side. When released, the cat should make every effort to remove the towel in order to get the reward underneath it. Repeat five times and calculate your pet’s score.

The Change Exercise

Test: what’s your cat’s sensitivity to visual changes in the environment?

While kitty is in another room, place a completely new object, such as a balloon or an open umbrella, in the middle of the living room. Don’t handle it much because your scent might reduce the object’s novelty. Watch your cat’s reaction when he enters. For no response, score 0; for a brief look, score 5; and for a cautious or immediate approach and investigation, score 10. Repeat with different novel objects for four days in a row, then total your pet’s score.

The Tube Test

Test: what’s your cat’s ability to grasp spatial concept?

You’ll need a cardboard tube about 2 1/2 to 3-feet long with a 3-inch diameter. Tie a string with a small toy or piece of meat attached to one end. Stand at least 4-feet away from the tube. Let your cat watch as you pull the string through the tube. He should quickly learn to come to the end nearest you to wait for the reward to appear. Score 10 for a quick grasp of the spatial concept; 5 if you have to repeat it more than five times; and 0 if your cat stays by the end of the tube where the reward disappeared. Repeat four days in a row, then total your pet’s score.

Right & Left Test

Test: How good are your cat’s spatial skills, dexterity and flexibility?

You’ll need two cake pans, two identical cardboard boxes and a small amount of food or a toy for a reward. Place the boxes on their sides about 3-feet apart with the open ends facing back. If you’re using food as a reward, smear the pans with a small amount of the food dissolved in water to mask odors. Put a tin inside each box, and show your cat where you’re placing the reward. After kitty has correctly gone to the reward twice, move the reward to the other box. He should catch on and go to the second box. After five or six trials, wait a day, then test him again.

Do five trials, put the reward in the first box (A) and then the second box (B) in this pattern: A, B, A, B and finally B. The last trial makes certain kitty is solving the problem, rather than following an A-B pattern. Give your cat a score for each trial. Finally, add your pet’s scores on all four tests to calculate your cat’s IQ.


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