Analyses of cat brains have shown they are divided into many areas with specialized tasks that are extremely interconnected and share sensory information in a kind of hub-and-spoke network, with a large number of specialized hubs and many alternate paths between them.
This exchange of sensory information allows the brain to construct a complex perception of the real world and to react to and manipulate its environment.
Research has also shown feline intelligence to include the ability to acquire new behavior that applies previously learned knowledge to new situations, communicating needs and desires within a social group, and responding to training cues.
Scientists have found that cats possess visual-recognition memory, and have flexibility of cerebral encoding from visual information, with adaptation of behavior corresponding to changing environmental stimuli.
Cats are known to be trained as circus animals, although traditionally considered difficult mainly because they appear to assume such behaviors only in exchange for a direct benefit. Also there is the belief that cats are difficult to train due to impatience and boredom with the training exercises.
Nutrition and diet affect the functioning of cat brains
Cats need the following nutrients in their diets to maintain good brain functions:
Manganese, Potassium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Sodium, Magnesium, and Vitamin A should be provided as part of a nutritionally balanced diet.
Additionally, taurine is an essential amino acid in a cat’s diet: taurine insufficiency leads to retinal degeneration and cardiac failure.
Cats have excellent long term memory
Cats adapt to the environment that they are in easily because they can recall what they have learned in the past and adapt these memories to the current situation to protect themselves throughout their lives.
It has been shown in the lab that cats can retain memories for at least ten years, or longer. The exact ability to retain memories may be affected by relationships with humans, individual differences in intelligence, and age, much as it is in humans.
Some cats may experience a weakening of both learning ability and memory that affects them adversely as they age. Advancing age may affect memory in cats, just as it does in some humans. A slowing of function is normal, and this includes memory. Aging may affect memory by changing the way their brain stores information and by making it harder to recall stored information.
Cats lose brain cells as they age, just as humans do. The older the cat, the more these changes can affect its memory. There have been no studies done on the memories of aging cats and memory, but there is some speculation that, just like people, short term memory is more affected by aging. In one test of where to find food, older cats’ short-term memory lasted about 16 hours.
Disease may also affect cat memory.
There is a syndrome called Feline Cognitive Dysfunction (FCD) that is similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. The symptoms include disorientation, reduced social interaction, sleep disturbances, and loss of house training. This syndrome causes degenerative changes in the brain that are the source of the functional impairment.
Cat intelligence vs humans, dogs, and other animals
The physical structures of human brains and cat brains are very similar. Cats, like humans, have binocular vision that gives them depth perception. Some studies have suggested that cats may dream. Cats have an awareness of objects not directly available to sight, and also sensory-motor intelligence comparable with a two-year-old human child.
By comparison, the dumbest dog breeds have intelligence comparable to a 2 -2.5 year old, while the smartest dog breeds are comparable to a six year old child. A wolf is comparable in intelligence with an 11-12 year old child.
Brainy parrots can think like a 4-5 year old, bears compare to a 3 year old human, dolphins and elephants are nearly as smart as adult humans, and are more intelligent than other primates closely related to humans.