7 of the Dumbest Cat Breeds (Packed Analysis)


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Cats are known to be fierce predators that send their prey running when they hunt. Their razor-sharp claws, heightened senses, and soft footsteps, which probably gave birth to the name “cat-burglar,” make them feisty little creatures flawed by their cuteness. But, some cats are smarter than others.  What are the dumbest cat breeds?

The 7 dumbest cat breeds are:

  • Persian
  • Himalayan
  • Birman
  • American Shorthair
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • British Shorthair
  • Serengeti

Not all cat breeds were gifted with great intelligence. Let’s take a look at seven of the dumbest cat breeds that were just not made for a game of wits!

If you are wondering what the best products are for your cat, check out this article that will break down all my recommendations for you: Things To Buy For A Cat Right Now!

Are Some Cats Dumber Than Others?

The simple answer is yes. Some cat breeds are considered to be smarter than the rest.  The Siamese cat is known to be intelligent, while the Persian cat is known to be much less intelligent.  

How Are Cats Intelligent?

  • Finding Food

This is related to how efficiently the feline hunts. Cats can sleep up to 20 hours a day. So, in between the few hours that they are awake, how much food can they fetch themselves? And is it enough to sustain them?

This can also apply to water.  It takes some skill for a cat to find good fresh water to stay hydrated.  This obviously becomes a lot easier if your cat is living in your home with you.

I use a water fountain for drinking water for my cat Charlotte (domestic Shorthair).  I rarely see her using the water fountain (she is sneaky), but I know she does because I have caught her using it before, and I can see the water level go down.  I highly recommend this water fountain on Amazon (affiliate link):  Click Here To See This Awesome Water Fountain on Amazon.

  • Outsmarting Predators

In the wild, cats have multiple predators, both land and aerial. Domesticated cats can usually call dogs their only rival unless some other creature ventures through a cat door. A dog is much more likely to win a fight with a cat based on size and muscle power, so the usual way a cat will escape is by outsmarting it.

  • Memory

Studies show that cats harbor the cognitive ability to make specific, event-based memories just like humans.

  • Cause and effect

Cause-and-effect is related to cats being able to decipher the fact that if she can do one thing, it can lead to another.

My Domestic Shorthair, Charlotte, knows that if she jumps on the desk next to my bed when I am sleeping and meows at me, I will wake up and talk to her.  She usually does this when she is hungry, but it is still too early for her feeding time.

A few cat breeds got the shorter end of the stick when smartness was being distributed. In contrast, some breeds are known to be highly receptive to human actions, with fast reflexes and complex behavioral patterns.

Sphynx cats may not be the furriest pals you’ll find, but they’re very energetic, outgoing, and smart. They care deeply for their companions but also form bonds with other animals. In 2012, a study conducted by Asselineau and Abitbol named them the most affectionate cat breed.

On the other hand, Persian cats are more of the lap-napper kind than one for the hunting life. They’re known to be more docile and live for lounging around and may very well end up sleeping on your furniture.  They’re not the smartest, but they’re definitely one of the cuddliest.

1. Are Persian Cats Smart?

No, Persian cats are well-known to be one of the least intelligent cat breeds and do not learn easily.  Other factors that contribute to the Persian cat’s reputation as less intelligent is that Persian cats excel at lounging and anecdotal evidence often shows less desire to hunt than you hear about with other cat breeds. 

Known and loved for their fuzzy coats and signature thick tails, Persian cats are at the top when it comes to beauty and charm but fall short in the intelligence department.

Persian cats are usually slow learners, which is why it could take owners months and even years of command and training to get them accustomed to ground rules.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence out there stating how hard it is for Persian cats to learn, such as how it would take some people hours to get their cat to understand how a simple cat door works.

Although Persian cats aren’t that bright when it comes to learning something new, they’ll be more than willing to do it to keep themselves and you entertained.

As long as you have a handful of treats and some much-deserved attention coming their way, they’ll be willing to accompany you for hours.

Persian cat owners have said that many of their cats showed no interest in hunting. They’re mild-tempered and prefer being cheery and playful all the time.

They do make fabulous lap-warmers, we have to give them that.  These cats like lounging, so having a decent cat condo is probably a good idea.

The cat condo / cat tree on Amazon that I recommend for Persian Cats because my similarly-sized cat loves it! (Amazon affiliate link): Click Here To See The Cat Condo On Amazon That My Cat Loves

Some say that Persian cats are just as smart as any other breed, while some comment that they’re not the brightest of the bunch.

2. Are Himalayan Cats Dumb?

The Himalayan has a reputation for not being that smart.  Contributing factors to this assessment is that the Himalayan cat is known to be extremely passive and sweet.  Himalayan cats will often spook easily and run away.

Himalayan cats are the fluffy mix between the Persian cat breed and the Siamese cat breed. Himalayan cats are adorable little additions to the list of dumbest cat breeds.

Looking at the historical parentage of the Himalayan cat breed:

  • Siamese cats are known to be cunning tricksters. Coupled up with their inclination to learn new tricks, Siamese cats will definitely make you wonder whether they’re cute pets, or if they’re planning world domination.
  • Persian cats are the total opposite. They can learn new tricks, but mostly they’re not motivated too much and are not known to be intelligent.

Overall, the Himalayans take after their Persian ancestry most and are regarded as mild-mannered, affectionate, and calm.

Much like any other pet, they love being showered with admiration and adoration, but they are not going to be all up on you all the time.  Himalayans are super quiet and mostly keep to themselves. Owners might even forget that they have a cat lurking around the house!

This skittish breed isn’t a fan of crowds and loud noises, and it’s enough to startle them. That’s one of the key reasons Himalayan cats are considered “dumb” by many people.

When my own cat (a domestic shorthair) wants to hide out and feel safer, sometimes she will use this cat house I found on Amazon and put together for her.  It is made out of cardboard and has some scratching pads as the floor.  Surprisingly, she loves laying on the scratching pads even though they are a harder surface.  Check out this cat house on Amazon (affiliate link) here:  Check Out The Cat House On Amazon That My Cat Likes To Feel Secure.

If you earn a Himalayan cat’s love, she’ll cling to you and become the best cuddle buddy.

3. Are Birman Cats Intelligent?

No, Birman cats are not known to be intelligent.  Birman cats are known to be loving and not attention seeking cats.  Birman cats are well-known to get themselves stuck in different places, such as dresser drawers, which likely contributes to their reputation as not smart cats.

The Birman is a friendly and chill breed that often earns a place in the rundown for “best cat breeds you can own,” and it’s totally justified. Sure, they might not be the smartest pet you’ll ever own, but they can be extremely playful and loyal.

Birmans share some physical traits with the Siamese, but they’re not as active. They’ll casually follow you on your trip to the bathroom at 3 am but won’t mind observing everything for hours while sitting at the top of their cat tower.

Since they’re not as active, they tend to be more mild-tempered and favor relaxing to pacing around the house, tripping over objects.  They won’t meow like crazy or excessively demand attention, so they’re like the perfect buddy who understands when you need space.

The intelligence of the Birman cat can be questioned because they are curious but tend to get themselves stuck in weird places. Drawers are common places that Birmans get in but don’t get out too easily.

Keep a close eye on these fellows as they do tend to go missing easily.

4. Are American Shorthair Cats Smart?

No, the American Shorthair cat is not known to be a smarter cat breed.  The American Shorthair is known to be extremely easy going and laid-back and many people see these traits and consider this cat dumb. There is anecdotal evidence that this cat breed does not like listening to human commands and that likely also contributes to being known as a less smart cat.

One of the more common breeds that people love as pets, the American Shorthair stands out with their thick, rounded appearance. Honestly, who can resist these balls of fur?

They come in a range of patterns and shades, but the most popular one is arguably the silver Tabby. This breed’s history goes back all the way to the colonists sailing to North America. American Shorthairs were praised for their impressive hunting style and resilience.

So, that brings up a good question. Why would people consider this sharp, efficient breed as dumb? Well, it might be owing to their more laid-back and easy-going nature.

It’s quite difficult to break this cat’s cool, as it is usually in a great mood. This leads people to assume they’re not that aware of what’s happening around them.  They’re light on their feet, so expect to find them on the top of a tall cat condo to see things from a high vantage point.

Owners have also complained that American Shorthairs suffer from a case of selective hearing and will ignore orders and commands that they don’t feel like paying attention to. Then again, isn’t that regular cat behavior?

For the positives, these felines are well-loved, and among the longest-living breeds you’ll find – with an average lifespan of at least 15 years.

5. Are Exotic Shorthair Cats Smart?

Photo by Dan Wayman on Unsplash via Keystone Cats

No, the Exotic Shorthair cat is well-known to be less intelligent than most other cat breeds.  This cat breed is a close relative of the Persian cat breed, which is another cat breed known to lack intelligence.  The Exotic Shorthair is also related to the American Shorthair, which has moderate intelligence at best.  This combined ancestry tells the tale of how the Exotic Shorthair is not intelligent.

The Exotic Shorthair has a remarkably interesting round looking face that many people also think is cute.  This cat breed was derived from a cross between the Persian and the American Shorthair.  Both of these cat breeds are not very smart.

The Exotic Shorthair is well-known to take care of itself better than the Persian cat but can still be reliant on humans for upkeep.  This cat generally has a shorter coat than a Persian.  Long hair varieties are rarer.

The Exotic Shorthair has a habit of following their leader, which means their favorite human.  This cat breed also considered not very vocal even though they do talk to people, just in an extremely soft volume level.

6. Are British Shorthair Cats Smart?

No, the British Shorthair cat is not known to be particularly smart.  The reasons that likely contribute to this is the British Shorthair cat is known to be calmer, quieter, and less active than other cat breeds.  The British Shorthair is not known to be a vocal cat and other than appreciating affection they are not known to be especially engaging with humans.

The British Shorthair is a popular breed of cat due to their good looks and being well-known to be good with children.  While British Shorthair cats are not especially vocal, they do like affection and being in the presence of their people.

The British Shorthair has an interesting heritage having originated in Egypt but hitching a ride to England with the Roman Empire when they occupied England.

The British Shorthair is a lounger and is not regularly active, which means that nutrition is super important, otherwise this cat will grow horizontally and need to go on a diet.  People that own this cat will need to be disciplined about keeping her active and feeding her just the right amount of healthy food.

The British Shorthair has a lifespan between 14-20 years and is known to be susceptible to health issues, such as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), which is a health condition where the heart pumps less efficiently due to an increase in heart thickness.

7. Are Serengeti Cats Smart?

No, the Serengeti cat breed is not known for being especially intelligent.  One of the breeds that the Serengeti breed is derived from, the Bengal, is also a cat of moderate intelligence.  The Serengeti is well-known to run around indoors at full speed between rooms, and can be shy, which contribute to it being on this list.

The cross between an Oriental Shorthair and the Bengal cat breed, the Serengeti cat boasts decorated features – deep black spots widely spaced across their rich golden colored fur.

While the looks are derived from its Bengal parenthood, Serengeti cats also share behavioral traits with the Oriental Shorthair.  While the Oriental Shorthair cat is known to be smart, the Bengal is only known to have moderate intelligence at best.

Often compared to the Savannah for the looks, Serengeti cats do not have any wild blood. This accounts for them being known as amiable, patient, and self-confident.

They’re highly active and will run fast around the house, so there needs to be a ton of toys to keep them occupied, or you can expect some form of destruction playing out in the house.

These cats grow fond of their owners quickly and display strong signs of affection, loyalty, and attachment. Most owners like to limit their Serengeti to the indoors because:

  1. The Serengeti cat is quite rare.
  2. The Serengeti cat is active but not temperamental; if outdoors a full-grown raccoon would still pose a lot of problems for this cat.

With that being said, the Serengeti cats are highly vocal and enjoy climbing.

How Smart is the Average House Cat?

The Average House Cat is known to be smart according to the encephalization quotient and when comparing this metric to other animals.  Rabbits, Brown Bears, and Sheep all score lower on this metric than the average house cat.  Dogs score slightly higher than cats and the average dog should be considered slightly more intelligent than the average cat.

For a long time, cats have been considered one of the smarter animals out there…capable of getting their way with cunning and cuteness. In reality, how smart are these precious felines?

According to the encephalization quotient (EQ), domestic cats score a 1 – 1.71. EQ has been used as a measure of intelligence in different species, and humans have the highest (7.4 to 7.8). Considering that, cats aren’t that intelligent.

According to reports, dogs have a higher EQ with a low end of 1.2 vs. the low end of 1.0 for cats.  Sheep, rabbits, brown bears, horses, amongst other animals have been known to score lower than cats.

Cats have been reported to have complex dreams just like humans, and they’re able to retain and recall a string of events while they’re sleeping, as with many other creatures.

In addition to that, cats have an excellent memory. They are adaptable to new environments because they can relate the events of their past to their present conditions.

I can attest to this point with my Domestic Shorthair, Charlotte.  When I hold her down to clean her ears, I like to wear blue jeans so that she can’t scratch my legs.  Now, if she sees me with blue jeans on, she keeps her distance.

During their semi-domestication, cats may have gotten smarter – more skilled in a sense. Basically, cats were placed in a stimulating environment (a world with humans) that required them to adopt new traits and behaviors to fit in.

Are Tabby Cats Smart?

Many breeds of cat have a Tabby variety and the breed of cat would be the main determining factor in Tabby intelligence.  For example, a Munchkin Tabby cat should be assumed to be much smarter than a Persian Tabby cat based on what we know about both breeds of cats.

Many people are enamored with Tabbies and frequently wonder about their intelligence. Tabby cats are not a specific breed but have a distinct tabby coat pattern.

Many cats can be born with the special “M” shaped mark on the forehead and long stripes spanning across the body, and that would qualify them as tabbies.  My cat Charlotte is a Tabby, and she has this M shape on her forehead in addition to the coat pattern.  It basically looks like excellent camouflage.

When it comes to their behavior and personality, you really need to look at the breed of the cat and not that it is a Tabby.  Remember, Tabby is a coat pattern not a breed.  There is a lot of folklore on the internet about the characteristics of Tabby cats that from my research shows to be unreliable.

What is the Dumbest Dog Breed?

The Afghan Hound is widely regarded as the dumbest dog breed.  The Afghan Hound is known to be hard to train due to their inability to focus on commands.  This dog is a sighthound and will go off running after animals it can see with its eyes.  

Moving on from fur buddies, let’s talk about their rivals in the never-ending war of “Who’s Better?” Dogs have been counted as more intelligent by many as they’re much more receptive to human behavior, but that’s not exactly a reliable indicator when comparing brains.

In the scientific realm, intelligence of canines is counted on three factors:

  1. Adaptive intelligence – the ability to solve problems independently and learn from past experiences.
  2. Instinctive intelligence – the ability to do jobs it was bred to perform; for example, hunting wild pigs, herding sheep, or guarding your home.
  3. Obedience and working intelligence – how fast it can learn something taught by a human.

It’s important to remember that all dogs were bred for different purposes, so it would be illogical to think they’ll all perform similarly on the same measurement scales that we humans like to apply.

However, with that being said, there are some dogs that rank high on the intelligence meter while some, sadly, lag behind. For example, the Border Collie is generally considered to be highly intelligent, along with the Poodle coming in at second place. In contrast to that, the Afghan Hound and Beagle are much less “smart.”

Afghan Hounds are majestic, large show dogs that require considerable upkeep. These sensitive dogs have a very hard time learning tricks and commands due to a lack of focus on what humans say.

These dogs are known to be exceptionally fast and great jumpers.

Still, the Afghan Hound performs incredibly well during hunting, with the ability to outsmart and outrun its prey.

Summary

At the end of the day, cats do make a wonderful addition to anyone’s lives. Even though some are often termed dumb due to their demonstrated lack of intelligence or their innocence and gentle nature, these cats are truly some of the best companions you can get.

Maybe you’ll have to break open a cabinet one of these days to release your cat that somehow got locked in there (Looking at you Birman!), but hey…it’s totally worth it after you take a long look at that cute, fuzzy face.

What many people consider “dumb” and unintelligent behavior is often purely fun moments, enough to crack even the most cynical of people.

The moral of the story: Love cats. They’re amazing little creatures that have so much love and affection to offer. If you’re lucky, they’ll even care enough to purr near you in an attempt to be your friend. How cool is that!

If you enjoyed this article, please check out a few more:

  • Do Cats Like To Hunt? (The Detailed Answer):  Click Here.
  • Are Cat Backpacks Humane? (Answers To Comfort You):  Click Here.
  • Exotic Shorthair vs American Shorthair (New Big Analysis): Click Here.

Here are some of my favorite cat products

In addition to checking out some other More Meows articles, I hope you’ll check out some of my favorite cat products as well.  These are affiliate links, so if you end up using them, I’ll get a commission at no extra cost to you.  These are the products I really do find most helpful.

Litter Box:  I started out with normal, traditional litter boxes for my cat.  Then, I tried this automatic litter box on Amazon (affiliate link), which helped reduce the litter upkeep.  Finally, I am now a believer in the Litter-Robot 3 Connect on Amazon (affiliate link).  This robotic litter box is not for everyone based on the price tag, but for me the benefits (very little upkeep, works efficiently, clean, mobile app) far outweighed the cost. 

My Cat’s Litter-Robot 3 Connect (with night light on) – See the link above the photo!

Cat Tree:  I have purchased a couple of this Amazon Basics Cat Tree on Amazon (affiliate link).  My cat spends a lot of time on and around this cat tree, which I position near my sofa.  She uses the scratching posts on this cat tree multiple times a day, which means she is not scratching the sofa instead.

Cat Water Fountain:  I love this cat water fountain on Amazon (affiliate link).  There are three main benefits to having a water fountain like this for your cat.  The first benefit is that it keeps water running so that my cat doesn’t need to drink still water.  The second benefit is that it filters the water.  The third benefit is that my cat uses it – keeping my cat hydrated is important.

Christopher Carlson

I have an Domestic Shorthair Tabby named Charlotte. She is full of energy when she isn't sleeping most of the day. I share what I learn about cats on this site.

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