The Persian cat is the dumbest cat breed with its associated breeds: Himalayan and Exotic Shorthair. The Persian is sometimes referred to as a piece of fluffy furniture.

Contemporary flat-faced Persian cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick

The smartest is the Sphynx and Siamese. I could prattle on but it would be misleading because it is dangerous territory to claim with confidence which is the dumbest cat breed.

How do you measure cat intelligence? And it is very tricky to state that all the thousands of cats of one cat breed are dumb. It is dumb to try to do it. You won’t find the serious books on domestic cats and breeds discussing cat intelligence or if they do it’ll be with tongue in cheek.

So we have to take this sort of topic with a large pinch of salt. But people are interested in popular cat information. So websites try and please.

Years ago Animal Planet did try and rank cat intelligence. In descending order of intelligence – smartest at the top and the dumbest at the bottom – this is how they ranked the cat breeds:

Sphynx
Balinese
Bengal (see video of Bengal cat “Hunters Moon” below)
Colorpoint Shorthair
Havana Brown
Javanese
Oriental Shorthair
Siamese
Burmese
Chartreux
Devon Rex
Egyptian Mau
Japanese Bobtail
Korat
Norwegian Forest Cat
Ocicat
Russian Blue
Siberian
Singapura
Tonkinese
Turkish Angora
Turkish Van
Abyssinian
American Curl
American Wirehair
British Shorthair
Cornish Rex
Cymric
Maine Coon
Manx
Ragdoll
Scottish Fold
Snowshoe
Somali
American Shorthair
Birman
Bombay
Persian
Exotic Shorthair (short haired Persian)
Himalayan (pointed Persian)

As you can see the bottom three are cats in the Persian family. You’d probably find similar results from many websites. That does not mean they are correct, by the way.

But I’d have to pick holes in the list. There is no logic in it but there is some credibility. Somali cats are longhaired Abyssinians yet they are at opposite ends of the spectrum on intelligence. I don’t get that unless Somali breeders botched the breeding and created dumb cats while Abyssinian breeders did not. However, Siamese cats are considered by many to be smarter than other breeds. The Abyssinian too. I have seen the Sphynx and they do act smart. The Persian has been described as a piece of furniture. This means static and inactive which equals dumb. I have seen this when being photographed by Helmi Flick. While the Persian cat was inactive in front of the camera and would not become animated and therefore photogenic, the Bengal cat (one of the smart breeds) was all action and acrobatics. They interact better with humans.

However, I think it is far to say that it is more a fun list than a scientifically accurate list. Individual cats do vary in intelligence in my view. I also believe that poor breeding cat have a negative impact on intelligence. My sister adopted two British Shorthairs who must have been inbred. They were terribly slow and lacked interactability. However, it is better to assess the intelligence of individual cats rather then entire breeds of cat.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

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  • I “rescued” a six month old Persian. Ten days later she quite literally saved my life by quite deliberately meowing in my ear, pawing my mouth until she pulled me out of a near overdose from a new medication. She then sat pretty like an Empress while I fed her every kind of delicacy I could hardly afford in gratitude, often bringing her shrimp tidbits in bed which she had me believe she could not bite off pieces on her own. A year later after lamenting to a friend I could not secure an ordinary kitten for her to “experience Motherhood” I was brought a starving street urchin who immediately inspired my Empress to request silently, merely sitting in front of the door, to be let out. Never having made this, demand actually, before,! obeyed by opening the door. She lowered her powderpuff body to ground, sped at the speed of lightening across a few acres and back with a baby bird in her tiny, not so delicate mouth now to feed her new charge. My response “You can hunt?!?!”.

  • Yeah, I gotta say, my definitely-purebred Himalayan is the smartest cat I've ever had, and I've had around 30. He's just smart in a way that doesn't look like "dog smart", which is what I think people are looking for in "smart" cat breeds. He has immense social intelligence, an extraordinary ability to predict and remember, and a deep interest in watching things unfold, rather than engaging himself personally. (He also learns tricks easily, which is dog-like, so there's that.) Unfortunately he uses his powers for evil, and is an atrocious bully. He's on anxiety medication which helps immensely (he is smart enough to have an anxiety disorder, ffs) and we do our best to keep things calm, but he's still a handful. I love him to pieces, but he is not an easy cat to live with. Don't bank on Himmies or Persians being stupid. They're thinkers. Thinkers can be a real pain in the butt.

    • I literally came here looking for a list of "stupid cat breeds" because when we adopt again, I really do want a stupid cat. The smart ones I have now are a real handful. It'd be nice to have one that was pleasantly stupid, not one that, like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, is always "working things out."

      • The concept of stupid or smart cat breeds is tongue in cheek. The consensus is as stated in the article but there is a big debate about feline intelligence. What is stated above is very debatable. Thanks for commenting.

    • Yes, I think you are right ;) I just had to respond to the title which is a question that people put into Google search. I like doing that because I am responding to direct questions asked by real people. This should make the post meaningful and useful.

      • I enjoy your posts as they often touch on what can seem silly but are really common questions. I think in this case intelligence was judged by activity level.

        • Good point. Perhaps some people do equate activity with intelligence in cats because it is very difficult to measure cat intelligence.

          • Her favorite place is wrapped around my arm. I think the Persian aside from being ruined by flat facing was selectively bred for the calm disposition. And as people oriented as she is she is every bit a lion. The stuffed animal wrapping is very deceiving.

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