I’ll have to add some detail to that bold statement. A recent study, which I find very believable, indicates that Victorian era British were, smarter, quicker and more creative than the British of today. In our impregnable arrogance, we probably believed that we were steadily becoming ever more intelligent. Sadly not.
The reason is not clear, but Dr Woodley, who co-authored the study, postulates that the decline in intelligence in Britain is because the cleverer people are having less children. He describes this are “reverse selection”. You might add that the less intelligent are having more children, dramatically compounding the decline.
Clearly Britain does not represent all countries and places on the planet but in the Western world the same process is probably, or possibly, occurring.
As for cats, domestication removes the need for natural selection to take place. Natural selection is the process, described by Charles Darwin, in which the fittest survive the best, thereby gradually creating more smart and more fit animals (and humans). By fittest we must include superior intelligence.
It is accepted that the wild cats and wild cat hybrids are smarter than the average domestic cat and of all the domestic cats it is probably fair to argue that the purebred, pedigree cat is the least intelligent. This would be due to intense selective breeding for appearance and nothing else.
The feral cats should be smarter than the full-time indoor domestics because they have to survive the wild way – almost.
Where there is no requirement for the domestic cat to exercise his brain in order to survive, over time, he becomes slightly less intelligent. You can add to this process the rapid decline in the numbers of nearly all species of wild cat. The wild cats are a pool of cat intelligence. If there are less of them, the overall intelligence of the world cat population declines.
What to do about it? Well the cat breeders could start selecting cats for intelligence, for a start. The trend towards keeping cats indoors all the time is arguably bad for the domestic, over the long term, as it takes away the natural stimulations that the outdoors brings.
If the clock could be turned back to the era when domestic cats were barn cats and outdoor cats that would benefit the cat from the perspective of cat intelligence. The problem is that as the human continues to breed and fill up the planet, and as human activity makes the world more dangerous for outdoor cats, the direction the domestic cat is going in, is towards a safe indoor life lacking stimulation and challenges, together with the destruction of wild cats in their habitat. Without the need for the domestic cat to overcome survival challenges, he will become ever more stupid.
I’ll finish on humans. Why are the clever people in Britain having less children? The common sense answer is that the clever person feels uneasy about bringing a child into the world. This is sensible.