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Smart vs dumb cats & dogs?

samzheresamzhere BannedPosts: 10,923 Senior Member
We all love our pets but we also know that some are smarter than others. Whether dogs are smarter than cats or vice versa I'm not sure. Dogs certainly learn more tricks and behavior, such as herding animals on a farm, but maybe it's just that cats simply can't be bothered by learning stuff that's not of direct benefit to them? I dunno.

Anyway, what signs do you have about the relative smartness of your pets?

For example, back when I had 3 cats in a house, and a dog or other interesting thing was happening outside, 2 of the cats knew how to follow the dog outside by running from window to window as the animal passed by -- they recognized that the "outside" was one contiguous view, window to window. But the 3rd cat never learned this, and would only watch out of one window till the passing dog went out of view in that one window.

My 2 smart cats were my old terror on wheels, Vanilla, and maybe the smartest cat I've ever owned, Dupree. Dupree would jump onto the window sill to look out in winter, and if the glass was frosted, he learned to lick it clear. None of my other cats learned that trick.

Dupree would also know when certain people walked certain dogs, and when he was outside, he'd be ready for them and be watchful for the larger dogs and hiss and chase the smaller dogs, on a regular schedule.

He knew quite a few words and if I asked him "Ball?" he'd go get his ball toy, or if I asked him "Mouse?" he'd go grab his stuffed mouse to play with me.

I've watched dogs and cats eat from plates that scoot when they eat. I've seen that most dogs will put their paw on the plate to keep it steady but I've never seen a cat who knows this trick.

My old cat Vanilla was fierce and also very smart. She wanted something, she'd come over to where I was sitting, maybe on my computer or watching TV, and she'd get up on her rear legs and thump my leg with her paw to get my attention. Then she'd walk away slowly, looking back to see if I was following her. If I ignored her, she'd then claw my leg! But when I did follow her, she'd lead me to her food dish or water bowl or catbox and stand there, staring back and forth from me to the object, wanting fresh water or a snack or her catbox cleaned.

By contrast, my little adopted stray Whiskers, although a sweet cat, was dumb as a rock. He was always the last one of the cats to catch on to something and he was the one who never learned to move from window to window to watch a dog passing by. He'd also try to climb a teeny tree -- the neighbors had some little decorative trees -- and he'd get about 4 feet up and then panic and cry and mew for help. I'd have to reach and "rescue" him even though sometimes he was lower than my own head.

So just for a nice waste of electrons and time, what things have you seen to indicate relative smartness of your pets? A particularly smart dog or cat, for example. Or a totally clueless pet?

Replies

  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 23,650 Senior Member
    We had a cat that could open doors - he'd get a running start, leap up to the doorknob and twist it between his font paws. It'd take him 3 or 4 tries, but he'd get it open! He'd also come when called by name.

    Had a little mutt that just would not leave the black "cat" with the white stripe down its back the 'ell alone. Even after 4,256 times getting sprayed...
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,158 Senior Member
    I also had a cat (Suzy Q) that could follow squirrels in 3D from inside the house. She knew to go to a side window or upstairs if they went up a tree
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    jbp-ohio wrote: »
    I also had a cat (Suzy Q) that could follow squirrels in 3D from inside the house. She knew to go to a side window or upstairs if they went up a tree

    I think this is a pretty good indicator for smarts. There seems to be a divide on this, per my 3 cats, 2 of which knew where to run next, the 3rd clueless.

    And zorba, I've had some of my cats try to turn doorknobs too. They watch us with everything we do, and learn from it.

    Per squirrels, I've posted this before but my big tough cat Dupree had a squirrel pal who live in the tree in my back yard. I saw Dupree chase this squirrel one Saturday, round and round the bole of the tree, and up quite a ways -- Dupree was an expert climber. And then they'd trade places! The squirrel would chase Dupree and they'd have a treat, never harming one another, in that Dupree was quite a hunter too, and he could have easily snapped that squirrel's neck in a second if he'd wanted. But they were pals. Amazing how our animals behave sometimes, eh?

    Sadly, Dupree met his fate to a car or truck. Smarts doesn't prevent this, really. There's no learning curve. One evening I came home from opera rehearsal to find him lying on the front doormat, cold and bruised and busted up. I buried him in the back yard with his favorite toys.

    And for a long time afterward, the squirrel would come to my back door and chitter and make noise, looking for his buddy. Sigh.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    My dog Patrick is not trick smart, I never taught him any such as roll over etc..... but he is intuitive, he figured out early on, I don't like him to beg, so he ignores me until I have his food ready.
    I took him to a free obedience class, and it was about stopping barking for no reason, the Lady used a little yappy dog to demonstrate on, my dog yapped until he saw the other dog get spritzed, he piped down quickly..... The other dog could not get the message..
    My dog likes the strangest things, and he will line them up when he is living in his own dog house......
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    Our cats, we had one big yellow tom cat that was a deathray with snakes. He would kill rattlers twice his size and drag them up on the steps going to the car port. He'd kill em and bring them to that same spot every time.
    The head tome cat in charge now is Mingo. He's mostly siamese, like his sister-wife, Pau. My wife gave them Asian names because they're Siamese. Mingo is prettin smart, but Pau, not so much. These two were incestial cats as they have had a couple litters between them and they ARE sister and brother. Now Ming is neutered like his son Alf. Alf is named after one of my wife's brother's who is cross eyed. Alf is also crosseyed so she named him that. Alf is very timid and withdrawn. When I let him in, he goes under me bed and disappears for the day. He's plenty smart though and he's about the most trouble free non mischievous cat in the house. He just stayes out of the way. We have a few outside. One is called Idioto, so named by my wife. But despite the name, he's pretty smart.

    As for smart dogs we've had through the years, the smartest by far was one my sister brought home from High school. We named her Fuzzy because she was a fuzzy looking coyote looking dog but smaller than a coyote. She stood a little less than knee high. But she was smart. My dad would go up to the local stop and rob called Coles Corner every afternoon and get himself a couple of cigars. One time he let Fuzzy go with him and he thought he'd buy her a dixie cup of ice cream. He did and brought her home and when he got out of the car he gave her that ice cream. Well this progressed to a daily ritual, going to get Fuzzy's Ice Cream. Well when I started driving I got that duty handed down to me. Taking the dog to the store for her ICE Cream.

    Now I realize that in itself doesn't establish intelligence because we all know some not so smart people that love ice cream. However, one episode convinced me that this was one of the smartest dogs I'd ever heard of. We had tarrazo floors in the kitchen and the living room. One night I gave Fuzzy her dixie cup and she was licking it and making the cup flop on the floor flop flop flop, and I got tired of hearing that so I sort of yelled at Fuzzy to stop that noise. That dog promptly stopped eating that ice cream and carried it over and set it down on a soft rug, which was several feet out of her way and put it on the rug and started eating it again and it was making less noise. The rug was absorbing the noise.

    OK once is luck. But she did this several times and every time she'd do it she would carry that Ice cream in a different direction depending on where the rugs were situated. Some dogs and cats are truly amazing.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,916 Senior Member
    samzhere wrote: »
    He knew quite a few words and if I asked him "Ball?" he'd go get his ball toy, or if I asked him "Mouse?" he'd go grab his stuffed mouse to play with me.

    Jake has a bunch of stuffed toys...a squirrel, an armadillo, beaver, moose, lion, warthog, he also has a Kong....if you ask him to go get a particular toy...he'll find it and bring it to you...

    Also...if someone in the house is stressed or injured, he will go get all his toys (all the things important in his life) and lay them on your lap, then settle in to be close to you.

    He knows people by name....I can give anything to Jake (except a piece of jerky) and tell him to take it to mama, jessica, etc and he'll get the job done. He helps carry firewood as well....

    The cats (Fuzz and Lefty) major accomplishment is laying in your lap and demanding attention...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Every time Mary would let our GSP Jill out to exercise, she would run to the barn and do a perfect point- - - - -at the pigeon coop!

    10689Farm_Pics_007.jpg

    We miss her a lot!
    Jerry
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Best way to teach cats or dogs "no" is to use a simple water pistol or squirter. First say "NO!" or "DOWN!" and then hit them with a squirt.

    If you're fast, they never really catch on that you're the water source. It just comes from nowhere if they don't behave. Doesn't take more than a half dozen squirts to teach them.

    But I've never had a cat connect the water source with the person doing the squirting. Of course you have to be fast and not stand over them with the water, but hit them at a distance, fast and then you look up at the ceiling and hide the water source, Hmm Hmm, I didn't do that...
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 16,916 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    Our bonehead beagle loves chasing the laser pointer on my IR temperature meter.

    Jake has one of those as well...it's his "little red friend"...it always goes home too soon...but he knows it lives in a tubular black thing, which he will knock around with his nose in an attempt to make it work..
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    I am always meeting dogs with a better personality than their owners, the dog is happy to meet me, wagging its tail, and the dogs owner is the one growling at me......
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,798 Senior Member
    Oddly, I had much more patience training a dog when I was young. I no longer keep dogs because I'm not willing to give them the attention they need. But I always thought I could tell a smart dog by whether or not he looked me in the eye. All of the smart ones I had would stick close to me and watch my behavior to determine their own. The dumb ones just acted silly most of the time, unless scolded. Of course, a lot of that has to do with whether there are kids around to distract them, but the good ones still paid attention to the boss.

    Cats? They are mostly interchangeable, in my experience. My daughters had 3 or 4 growing up, and their behavior was always exactly the same as the one before. I like to have a couple of wild ones hanging around outside to keep the vermin nervous, but I don't want one for a pet - can't stand all that purring and phony affection.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,798 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    Mines the exception to your rule. I know he's extremely smart, he's just a crackhead. And stubborn. But, (and I was warned by some here) that's.....a beagle.

    I know stubborn - I pretty much always had some kind of bulldog. I had a Boston Terrier when I was kid, and it took a couple hours a day for two weeks to teach him to sit on command and stay there when I walked away. He would stand up and I would sit him back down - up and down, endlessly. But once he got it, everything else went pretty well.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    bisley wrote: »
    Oddly, I had much more patience training a dog when I was young. I no longer keep dogs because I'm not willing to give them the attention they need. But I always thought I could tell a smart dog by whether or not he looked me in the eye. All of the smart ones I had would stick close to me and watch my behavior to determine their own. The dumb ones just acted silly most of the time, unless scolded. Of course, a lot of that has to do with whether there are kids around to distract them, but the good ones still paid attention to the boss.

    Cats? They are mostly interchangeable, in my experience. My daughters had 3 or 4 growing up, and their behavior was always exactly the same as the one before. I like to have a couple of wild ones hanging around outside to keep the vermin nervous, but I don't want one for a pet - can't stand all that purring and phony affection.

    Good post. I love dogs and had them growing up but a guy who's single and working long hours just cannot do the dog justice -- they deserve more time, which I was unable to provide. It's totally unfair to coop up a dog in an apartment, even if it's a large one, all day. And although teeny dogs might be okay, I don't like "snack size" dogs at all -- they have to be real size, spaniel size at least.

    So I migrated to cats. And I can tell you that cats are simply not interchangeable. They're as different among themselves as are dogs. But cats are also very different in their personalities and behavior to dogs, which might contribute to your opinion of them.

    Cats are also a lot more lazy than dogs, if you let them laze and don't train and play with them. It's more tempting to essentially "ignore" a cat because they're self-keeping in many ways are don't require the individual attention that dogs do. But they're very different in personality, same as dogs. And they come in varied degrees of smart. And along the same lines, their intelligence is very different from dogs.

    Dogs are pack animals and choose you as their alpha male (even if you're female). Cats are not pack adapted and therefore are more individualistic. Not necessarily smarter, just differently wired. But I can tell you that a nicely treated cat is just as happy to see you come home as is a faithful dog. My old buddy RJ would run to me, meowing and begging for petting and glad I was home from work. And our new little calico Cali is that way w. my girlfriend -- Cali likes me but not as much. Still, she's a fine little kitty and a decent fuzzball around the place, fun to play with -- she's now learned the difference between claw-play and non-claw. Cats can be taught this.
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,798 Senior Member
    I trained my daughters' cats to stay out from under my feet, stay off the kitchen counters, and to keep the claws sheathed. If the kids got a little too rough, the cat knew to run away rather than retaliate, and if I told them to shut up, they did, immediately. Once they got all of that down pat, I didn't bother them and they didn't bother me. The one we had when the girls were little would let them dress it in doll clothes and push it around in a baby buggy, for hours. I proved to my wife that I could tolerate them, if they had manners, and that was a victory of sorts for me, because I honestly don't care for them in the house. Thankfully, my daughters grew up and my wife got tired of them, so we're back to the way I like it.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    My dog Patrick did something I will always remember, he stuck his head under a car and barked like crazy, I am thinking silly dog, when this cat flies out from under the car hissing like a tea kettle, and makes towards a flock of teens.
    They got pretty scared, however the cat ran up a tree,it was very funny, I would like to think they might have soiled themselves.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
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