Cats are actually very intelligent animals. Here, a description of how they are intelligent, how to bond with them, and true-life stories of behavior smart cats have exhibited.
Cats are a lot more intelligent than people give them credit for. They are capable of forming attachments to people and communicating their needs and wants. They are capable of "instinctual thought." Cat owners will agree, these are animals are truly smart.
These animals have many wants. The stories people tell are all about cats who are cunning, aloof, and always hungry. In many ways, this image is correct, but there's a lot more to most cats than this. They have personalities - and that may mean that they don't hesitate to demand whatever they want, be it food, play, or to be left alone.
How do cats get our attention? Those with louder "voices" may meow at their owners endlessly. They may also follow you around, insist on sitting on your laps (or near to), or rub against your ankles. All of these are signs that the cat uses to say "I'm here! Pay attention to me!" If we choose to oblige, we can learn more about them as individuals.
The myth says that while dogs are man's best friend, cats are aloof and no one's ally - that is, they use us as means to get what they want, and nothing more. However, this is often untrue, especially with the more intelligent cats. Cats can form attachments to their owners if given the chance, and will reciprocate the love they're shown. They are not quite as fickle as they're often portrayed.
New owners will want to get to know their cat, much the same way they get to know a new person. Pay attention to what the cat does - when and where does s/he like to sleep? Is s/he the quiet type, or does s/he meow all the time? Is s/he the "fussy" type who is very selective about food and people? Does s/he like to be held or sit on laps?
All of these are characteristics that define a cat. By paying attention to them, it's possible to help them form that attachment and to tell how smart they really are. Watch how much the cat seems to pay attention to the world around him. A smarter cat will use his keen senses to stop and take note of a situation before acting, and will seem to "˜think' about what would be best to do. They also may pay attention to specific stimuli, such as the TV or the radio. Some outdoor cats have even learned to check for traffic before crossing the street.
One very intelligent cat knew exactly how to manipulate her owner. She learned to recognize her owner's footsteps (vs. the rest of the family) coming up the front walk. When she heard her owner's footsteps, she would run first towards the door, then up the opposite stairs. From the top of the stairs, near the entrance to the owner's bedroom, she would wait and meow until the owner came to say hello. When she heard the rest of the family's footsteps, she would run away from the door and hide. In many similar cases, the cat showed the same behavior in response to voices.
The cat also showed direct communication with her owner. At night, if she knew it was "˜bedtime,' she would find her owner and let her know, verbally, that it was time to go upstairs. If the owner was at her computer, near the stairs, the cat would step off the stairs, directly onto the computer table, and would make it impossible for her to continue working. On weekends, when the owner did not go to bed until later, the cat would insist on sleeping in her lap.
Many cats do exhibit this type of behavior. They get to know their owners as much as their owners get to know them. They learn routines from months or years of experiencing them, and may learn to issue gentle reminders about parts of this routine that include them. They will certainly issue reminders if it's time to feed them. Also, since many cats enjoy sleeping somewhere near the owners (at the foot of their bed, on their pillow, even being held by the owner), they may remind the owner about bedtime. Because of this, cats may become almost human to their owners.
The ones that live outdoors are just as intelligent as indoor ones, and have very different ways of showing it off. In one case, a cat had a very long memory of one isolated incident, which is unusual. A raccoon attacked the cat when she was barely a year old, and a family with quite a bit of property took her in and let her roam around. When she'd had her first litter of kittens, she took them out hunting, and they killed a raccoon that was much larger than they were. To the cat's family, they were avenging the attack.
Most cats are capable of these kinds of intelligent and sometimes surprising behavior. To get the most out of the cat, spend time with him. Play with him, talk to him, play music for him, watch TV with him. Many cats surprisingly show an interest in the television and even seem to remember where it is and what it does. They also may show an interest for certain kinds of shows - animal shows and cartoons shows are a big hit. Cats like watching other animals, as well as anything bright, colorful, and rapidly moving. Some also enjoy listening to music and possibly even their owner singing.
Cats will learn their owner's patterns and rhythms. If a cat enjoys sitting with an owner while he or she is watching TV, or relaxing in his or her bedroom, s/he will learn to listen and look for the owner going to that location. They may learn to listen for music or television sounds, or even a door closing. When they see and hear these clues, they may go and find their owners. Some may frequently relax in one specific room that "˜belongs' to them.
They can also learn to "˜talk' to their owners. When an owner speaks to them, recognizing the voice and its tone (for example, a happy, "˜conversational' tone), they may meow in response, or get up and walk towards the owner. It's possible to have a "˜conversation' this way. One cat eventually learned to meow in such a way (from time to time) that it sounded like she was saying a word in response to her owner's questions.
They are most relaxed, generally, when they are with the owner(s) they trust the most and there is nothing within hearing or sight range that may even possibly threaten them. This may include rowdy children, other animals, or other stimuli (such as thunder, other loud noises). They will generally allow their owner to play more when they are relaxed than when they are busy observing their environment in case of danger. If an owner lifts the cat, they can feel the difference in the cat's body - a relaxed cat is loose and light, and scared cat is tight and heavy. Bonding is best when the cat is relaxed and ready to play.
Owners can get to know their cat and bring out the best in them by playing with them whenever possible. They'll learn nonverbal communication this way, too - owners may be able to see the cat smile, or read the look of love and contentment in his or her eyes. Though cats may be more "˜selective' than dogs, they are just as willing to lavish love on their "˜special' owner as the dogs are. Some may even learn to do tricks, just like dogs! So cherish the cats and invest love and time in them. They will give back by showing off their incredible intelligence and loyalty.