The domestic cat’s brain is very similar to ours and they are more intelligent than many people thought. We are learning about the emotions that domestic cats can experience. However, I would like to write a short note on brain processing power based upon my observations over the years.
With respect to senses, alertness and awareness of activities around them, the domestic cat is superior to humans. Their brain is constantly switched to the ‘On’ setting even when snoozing. Domestic cats will respond rapidly to sounds which humans either don’t hear or choose to ignore. Their sense of smell is much superior to human’s and they are very quick in movement. It seems to me that the development of their brain is based upon how to improve hunting skills. That’s the evolution of the feline brain.
In short, the processing power of the feline brain is very high in respect of the skills needed to hunt successfully. However, in respect of some day-to-day activities which humans engage in and in their interactions with their cat, the processing power of the domestic cat’s brain is quite slow in comparison to that of most humans. This is why, in my opinion, cats do not respond quickly to requests to come even if they are trained to do so. We should give cats time to respond and accept their differences in this regard.
I’ll give you an example. My cat is trained to come onto my lap or to lie on me when I’m in bed. I tap on the bed or on my lap and he recognises this as a signal to come. He does come but there is usually a pause, perhaps of 30 seconds to two minutes, before he decides to move. He is not deciding whether he wants to come onto my lap or not because I know that wants to do it. He needs that minute to process the request to make the move to jump up. It does seem like an eternity. Perhaps his mind is wandering a bit and is unfocused but I sense that part of the issue (and this is not a problem) is that the cat’s brain with respect to processing power on rational thoughts is considerably slower than the human’s.
Because we interact with our cat as if they are mini-humans we sometimes expect them to behave like humans and can become frustrated at the slowness of their response believing it to be aloofness. This is why you will see articles on the internet about domestic cats deliberately deciding to not respond to their owner’s demands. They criticise the cat by comparing them to dogs because dogs can be trained more effectively and respond more quickly. I don’t think that the dog’s quicker responses is due to better processing power of their brains. It is simply that they are inherently more sociable animals and therefore more attuned to the need to respond quickly within a group.
This may also be part of the response differences of the domestic cat. Although they are sociable nowadays they are inherently solitary animals and therefore not attuned to taking orders from others. This may present itself as a barrier to the brain in processing commands. As I’ve mentioned, these are just observations and I’m not referring to any studies.
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