June 18th, 2009
|04:26 pm - Cats not smart shock|
Did you see this report that cats aren't very intelligent? There are plenty of outraged comments on the Guardian there, sternly denying the possibility that this might be so.
Hey - I like cats, but I don't think they are super smart. They are well suited to survival in their native environment, and their body-consciousness is much better developed than humans. I mean their bodily movement is better integrated and flows more gracefully.
In humans supreme grace requires concentration and mental discipline, so perhaps we are tempted to attribute impressive mental powers to cats - but I think for them grace is innate and unconscious. The same goes for horses - daft as brooms but hardwired to move with grace. I don't think they are worse as animals just because they leave abstract cognition to their monkey friends (ie us).
That's only one test which judges a certain sort of geometrical thinking. There's a lot more to intelligence.
I've gotten very tired of articles which draw extremely wide conclusions from answers to very specific questions, and I suspect that people aren't quite as smart as we think we are.
One of my big things is that people aren't very smart - that's why I'm an agnostic. Having said that I think we are a lot smarter than cats for what it's worth.
We've had smart cats (Tabitha in particular, but Molly too), a really dim cat (Watson, bless him), a completely paranoid cat (Mr Holmes), and a bonkers cat (Mina). Lucy is sweet but not terribly bright. In short, they seem much the same as people.
I think I have a lower estimation of cat brainpower than most cat lovers, but for all that I do like 'em
Hmmm, yes, maybe I need to qualify that with 'smart for a cat' and 'really dim, even for a cat'. Molly was cat-smart, but nothing will shake my belief that Tabitha was people-smart
I think rats are likely to rule the world after we are gone
My cats spend their days lazing about, playing with and eating those mice and very small birds that are stupid enough to enter my enclosed garden, eating from their bowls which are almost always filled and performing some other necessary bodily functions.
I spend my days going to work in order to provide for them, cleaning out their litter boxes, refilling their food and water bowls and petting them. In return I get purred at if they happen to feel like it.
I wonder who's more intelligent...
I think Douglas Adams said something about dolphins along those lines.
It's things like this remind me why I so admire and respect the scientifical Science that is Psychology.
It's changed twice in my lifetime, and it will probably change again soon
Universities need a Faculty of Disciplines That Like To Pretend They Are Science For Some Reason Even Though They Are Pretty Obviously Not. Think how nifty that BDTLTPTASFSRETTAPON would look up on your wall.
(okay, Arkaroo pointed out that I have previously argued a far better solution which is that the faculties of arts and sciences should be combined into the Faculty of Thinkin', and all others into the Faculty of Doin'. You gotta admit though a BT would not look nearly half so epic.)
And you could have 'easy thinkin' and 'hard thinkin'
I've seen various cats work out things like how to open doors and windows (and even a fridge in one case), and I saw Claudia jumping onto the deck railing (which goes 3/4 of the way round the house on various levels) last weekend at the one point where the leap would be shortest.
I think they can work things out on a low level, and they also have intuition. They all knew about Claudia this week, and Claudia herself seemed to say goodbye to her favourite places.
Probably this wasn't a great day for me to post something about cats. I am sorry for the tough time today.
Edited at 2009-06-18 10:52 pm (UTC)
As an observant cat lover, what interests me about cat intelligence is how limited it is. Like you I suspect that a lot of what they do that we would use our apebrains for, they do hardwired. They can learn processes and "rules", especially when kittens, but it takes a lot of reinforcement, preferably with something that would have survivial value in the wild (food is the positive option). The "cleverest" cats I've known, ie the ones who can do human-like-thinking trinks, can work out logical puzzles (in the form of locked cat doors, ways to get at food, etc) so long as they are, how would you put it? Single chain logical puzzles. If this, then that will happen, then I can do that, and then that will work ,and then I can do this and FREEDOM! They can't seem do the more complex ones that work on "maybe this would happen which would give me several options" principles. My cleverest cat seems to recognise patterns of behaviour much faster than the others, which also makes him the most nervous cat. He sees a human bring out a cat cage, he seems to associate it with the likelihood of a trip somewhere he won't like as much as home, he hides and makes distress noises - the others wander over to the cage to sniff it. As they get older and experience more vet trips, they'll probably start to make the same associations Mac already does, based on previous experience.
I think what really gets us about cats is that they have personality. They have habits, and likes, and dislikes, and ways of expressing their feelings. In humans you use intelligence to express your personality, so we attribute that to cats too.
I totally agree about personality. I think they learn powerful emotiona associations, sometimes logical like your Mac has, and sometimes quite illogical to us. I always think of Heinlein's story 'the door into summer' - his cat (and mine) don't have a model that all the doors lead to the same unified 'outdoors': they have an emotional feeling that 'this door' somehow leads to the summer.
It doesn't matter. :-) I just think they have their own intelligence (I've seen them solve puzzles and remember where they last say a toy)), and a lot of intuition.
Yes, I think they have their own ways