Tag Archives: Upbringing

Is my cat smart ?

What is intelligence ? Or rather, what are the different characteristics of a kind of intelligence ?

Intelligence is a very complex concept that is still poorly defined : for the moment there is no scientific consensus for a precise definition. In fact, genetics, substances ingested by the mother during pregnancy, nutrition, or even the environment have an influence on the development of intelligence, which leaves thousands of possibilities for a kitten to become a feline genius… or not.

For us, intelligence is the ability to understand, learn and adapt to new situations, and to modify our environment to adapt to our needs.

Is my cat smart - Zorro on the heater

It took a long time for the notion of animal intelligence to be accepted and measured under correct conditions : animals were first subjected to tests similar to those carried out on children. This is of course biased because it completely ignores the specific needs of different species and the environment in which they operate. Is an elephant’s intelligence measured by his ability to climb trees, or a human’s intelligence measured by his ability to hunt mice in a field ?

Is my cat smart - Pixie on her trunk

How do I know if my cat is smart or not ?

That’s the question ! So we have prepared a brief overview of several characteristics of feline intelligence :

  • Is your cat creative ? Has he found a way to open the cupboard you thought was inviolable ?
  • Does your cat have the ability to focus ? Can he stay for hours to watch for the lizard that got under the cabinet, or stalk from the bushes ?
  • Does your cat have a good memory ? If it’s an outdoor cat, does he know how to find the way home ?
  • Does your cat have the ability to form concepts ? For example, wings + black + bzzz = fly = yummy, wings + striped black and yellow + bzzz = wasp = ouch, DANGEROUS
  • Is your cat able to learn new behaviors ?
    – by direct experience : not react by hearing the vacuum cleaner, go to the kitchen when the fridge door opens at the end of the day, meow hard enough and long enough for a human to give me a treat, play with me or open the door to me, discover the hidden treats in a game board, …
    – by transmission : kill a prey by observing how a more experienced cat makes, open a door by pressing the handle, …
  • Does your cat know how to use his body with precision ? Is he skilled ? Can he use his claws or teeth to open a bag of treats ?
  • Does your cat show emotional intelligence ? Does he recognize your emotions and act differently based on them ?

If you answered YES to most of these questions, no doubt, your cat is smart ! A specific training can even help him develop amazing abilities.

Cats and their humans are, however, equal in the face of aging in the sense that this phenomenon can impair their cognitive abilities.

Is my cat smart - Pixie wondering

To learn more about it…

To learn more about animal intelligence, we recommend « Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are ? », Frans De Waal, 2016.
For more information on cat learning, we recommend « The Trainable Cat : How to Make Life Happier for You and Your Cat », John Bradshaw, 2016.
These are two books that we found very comprehensive, interesting, and easy to read.

What manifestations of intelligence did you observe in your cat ? Tell us in your comments !

World Animal Day

Today, we want to raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards all around the world.

World Animal Day 2017

How to celebrate World Animal Day ?

  • Adopt an animal.
  • Sponsor an animal.
  • Organise a fundraiser for your favorite animal charity.
  • Offer help to a local wildlife group.
  • Donate to a local shelter.
  • Thank your local shelter staff.
  • Thank your vet.
  • Make your garden wildlife-friendly.
  • Treat your pet.
  • Spread the word !

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The kitten’s development 2/2

The phases of the kitten’s development

The phases of the kitten’s development about which we’re talking today are the phase of socialization and the puberty ; the prenatal phase and the neonatal phase are presented to you in a previous article.

The phase of socialization

This period, which goes from the 2-3rd week to the 7-9th week, is a key period : it conditions all the life to come of the kitten.

The kitten learns first that he’s a cat : it’s the imprinting process. He recognizes his congeners by being next them. Even an orphan kitten can imprint as far as it has the opportunity to spend time with other grown-up cats. Contrary to the habituation or to the socialization with other species, the imprinting process is a long-lasting learning which does not require to be maintained throughout the cat’s life. The kitten also learns to communicate and to interact by following the life’s rules of cats.
Pixie mai 2014
Towards 21 days, his sense of smell allows him to locate the place for elimination, which is taken away from the nest. The kitten is physically capable of relieve himself by himself, and he observes how does her mother : he becomes clean.

Depending on the environment in which he lives, the kitten learns that there are “friendly species” with which he can communicate and interact : humans, dogs, …

Now that he can see, hear, and move, he can explore his environment. He learns to adapt himself to diverse situations and to react to diverse hearing, visual, olfactive, or tactile stimulations.
exploration
His new motive skills allow him to play from the 2nd week. The game allows the kitten to learn self-controls : control of his strength and his movements, and capacity to play without biting and without claws. Milk teeth appear at about 4 weeks : the cat strongly reprimands his kitten if he plays to nibble her tail or her ears, or if he hurts her by sucking. When kittens play together, the bites or the scratches provoke cries of pain and sometimes the stopping of the game. The mother can also intervene to calm all those little guys so that kittens learn to control themselves.

From the end of the phase of socialization to the beginning of the puberty, the kitten continues his learnings.
Pixie septembre 2014

The phase of puberty

As for humans, there are hormonal modifications that pull physical and physiological modifications. The genital glands become functional, the kitten develops still physically and gains weight, the behavior differs between males and females, urinary marking and the first estrus appears at this moment. Depending on the cat breed and the environment in which he evolves, the puberty arises between 4 and 18 months. Thus it’s better to be early enough all eyes !

Thus a large number of obstacles appears on the way of the harmonious development of an orphan kitten : we dedicate an unlimited admiration for all the humans who accompany orphan kittens on this long way, and help them to become cats feeling good about their life.

What’s next ?

Our kitten is grown-up soon ; he is going to keep learning (or to forget some not maintained learnings) throughout his life.
Pixie adulte

Sources :
Philippe Bocion «Le développement du comportement du chat» (training)
Valérie Dramard «Le comportement du chat» (book)
Thanks to our friend Alexandra for the photo of the kittens born at night from 30 to 31 March 2017.