Our Cats Sure Aren’t Stupid

paws cat


We currently have five cats, not counting two that belong to both us and our daughter (whose nickname is Cat, incidentally, because of her initials, not because of her sincere love of cats). Of the five cats, Paws is my baby. Okay, he is definitely not a baby, since he weighs 12 pounds, nor is he “my cat”. Anyone who has had a cat for long understands that cats own people, not the other way around.

Anyway, Paws is a beautiful Siamese mix. He has all the markings of a Siamese, except that he has four white ‘boots’ on his feet, hence his name. We got him when we rescued a bunch of cats that had been abandoned at an apartment complex not far from where we lived at the time, on the Oregon coast. The cats were surviving off of what they could find in the dumpster and the people living in the apartments didn’t care about them, thinking that it was great sport to shoot them with bb guns. I don’t go for intentional cruelty, so we ended up rescuing 23 cats, with the blessing of the owner of the apartment building (and who ended up evicting several people because of their part in the cruelty against the cats.) All of this occurred five years ago.

A few of the cats were so malnourished that they died. Another had to have an eye removed and the vet was so taken with the cat that she wanted to keep the cat. We were perfectly okay with that, since we knew the cat would be well cared for. We found homes for some of the cats, and by the grace of God I was able to have all of the cats spayed or neutered so there wouldn’t be an overpopulation of stray cats.

One of the recued cats was a long haired Siamese kitten I named Princess, not more than 6 weeks old. I fell in love with her instantly and the feeling was mutual. Another of the cats was the cat I named Paws. He was about three months old, very feral and he understandably didn’t trust any human. We wouldn’t have even gotten him into the house if we hadn’t caught him in a Have-A-Hart trap and he immediately hid when we opened the trap. However, he was very protective of Princess and it was clear that he loved her as much as I did.

Princess was one of the cats that was too malnourished to save, though, despite all my efforts. The last night of her life, I laid on the floor, curled up around her, comforting her in her final hours and feeling heart broken and helpless. I fell asleep shortly after she died, from sheer exhaustion. When I awoke, Paws was curled up beside me, next to Princess. From that time, we’ve been pals and I’ve known from about that time that he is an exceptionally intelligent cat. He listens to what I say and seems to understand.

He’s not the only one! Another cat, GW, unimaginatively named because he is gray and white, is one of the cats that was neutered when we rescued the cats at the apartment. At the time, GW was about two months old and one of a litter that one of our regular house cats had, before that momma was also spayed. I was never especially fond of GW, but we kept him and the rest of that litter, because all of our efforts were being spent in finding homes for the rescues.

Though I wasn’t fond of Gee (short for GW), he was a lover and would curl up next to me at night so he’d be on one side and Paws would be on the other. Gee and Paws got along fine, which was surprising but welcome. Then late last year, Gee got exceedingly sick. He was actually asking me for help and letting me know that he didn’t feel good, and there was no doubt about that. Though we didn’t have the money, we took him to the vet. Apparently, he had an infection and inflammation that is common to male cats that have been neutered. We got him nursed back to health, after shelling out $350 that we had to scrape up. One of the things the vet told us was to make sure that he got lots of fluids, to prevent it from occurring again. So I started mixing dry cat food, canned cat food and a little water all together and feeding him that every day. That increases the amount of fluids he takes in.

Paws wanted his share and since he was also a neutered male and I didn’t want him to get sick like Gee had, I began to feed both cats. Incidentally, because of the ordeal, GW adopted me, too, and since Paws didn’t complain, I became owned by two cats.

This brings me to one example of how these cats show that they understand me. Our window is left open so they can go out, climb down a six foot ladder and then go chasing grasshoppers, mice or what have you. Paws is especially hard to get into the house unless I go out on the back porch and repeatedly call for him. Otherwise, he usually doesn’t come in until about midnight and he leaves shortly after I get up.

Last night, GW was asking to be fed. Paws was out hunting and I always feed the two of them at the same time, so I don’t have to make up food twice. So I told GW, “Paws is outside hunting. Go find him and bring him inside and I’ll feed both of you.”


GW giving the dog love

Gee looked at me, sat on the bed for a while, then got up and went outside. About 15 minutes later, GW got behind me, asking again for food. He does this by reaching out and tapping me on the shoulder with one paw until he gets my attention. I turned around to look at him and there he was, with Paws sitting right behind him. He’d done exactly what I’d told him. He went and got Paws and was waiting for me to fulfill my end of the bargain, which I did.

People often like to insist that cats are just “dumb animals”, but I swear that they are a lot more intelligent than they are given credit for. Our cats seem to love proving that they are anything but stupid.

Do you agree that cats are more intelligent than a lot of people think?


  1. Eva James

    They are smarter than most people. Mules and Arabian horses often get the same rap, but I have always had good ones of both. But they have tried to out smart me at times lol. Paws could be a snowshoe siamese, They have white feet and sometimes white on the face or chest. I found out they are a breed when I got one that was beating up another ladies small dog. My dogs were big enough to take it and he soon made up with them.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      I’ll have to look up the breed. I’ve never heard of it before. These animals are definitely smart, though. I think it could be because we treat them like it. We talk to them like we would to children and they respond in much the way a five or six year old would. I’m a firm believer that if you treat an animal or child as if they are stupid, that is how they will act.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      They sure aren’t and paws talks to me, making it quite plain what it is that he’s saying. If I ask him if he’s hungry and he isn’t, he clearly says no. If the answer is yes, it is a totally different meow and it clearly means yes.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      I definitely agree with you. In fact, we have a dog that purposely acts less intelligent than she is, so she can get attention.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      That is true, too. Four of our cats will run away from anyone else, but I can walk right up to them because they know I love them. Our daughter can’t even approach them, though they know her. Our daughter loves cats and wouldn’t hurt the, but they won’t take chances.

  2. Fifi Leigh

    cute. all animals are smart because they have to think to survive. although i keep my cat indoors, he always tells me when he is hungry again, or if he needs something, like out of water, or his litterbox needs to be cleaned. i sometimes forget. so, he reminds me.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      Yes. One thing that Paws does that is rather cute is that if I’m not up by 6 am, he will curl up next to my head and purr as loudly as possible (somewhat like a freight train rumbling through the train yards). He knows that I’m normally on my third cup of coffee by 6 am. 😀

    2. Fifi Leigh

      Gumby will get try to wake me up and bother me by jumping on me and tapping on me.

    3. Rex Trulove Post author

      Paws has also figured out that if the feeder is out of dry food, he can let me know by getting into my lap, sitting where I can’t type. There have been times he’s done that to let me know for the sake of the other cats, not because he was hungry.

  3. S.L. Luna

    Cats are more sensitive I guess , because they absorb the energies of their owners. I use let my cat on my belly and chest when I sleep , he purrs a lot and I know he absorbs my Gerrd problems , and when I feel my heart is palpitating. . I have a white cat 5 months old ( Anakin) , a stray cat adopted by my son, and an older black cat we named Cookie Monster and later renamed Darth Vader ( he is around 7 years old he was adopted also . he has tried being a mentor to Anakin, drawing him to the dark side, meaning, the little one has turned into naughty and adventurous, opening food covers, and trash. prior to that a Siamese also with boots , he got lost when he ran out the gate , he just disappeared , maybe someone have taken him , coz he would be back home for sure. Intelligent? My cats won’t just eat anything , while the dogs also two of them , would gobble up what I give . Cats are picky , clean and neat , always taking a bath ( cleaning themselves) , and sunbathing.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      lol…you are talking about food and feeding and Paws just got in my lap, preventing me from using my keyboard, and very clearly said, “Food? Neooow?” When I put dry food in their dish, he immediately ate, so he really was asking for something to eat.

  4. Gil Camporazo

    Is Paws in the first picture? I am amused of its looks. It is clean and it looks as a friend. We have several cats at home. They don’t belong to us. They are strangers, scavengers. Since we fed them, treated them like ours, they stay with us. And one of them looks like the second picture. My grandchildren love to cuddle them. They enjoy the company of my grandkids. Our youngest son also has a fond of cuddling those cats.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      Yes, the first picture is Paws. He also likes cuddling, though he doesn’t like being held. I’m the only one who can even pick him up. He also knows that his claws are sharp enough to shred my skin, so even when he’s angry, he won’t use his claws if he’s around me.

    2. Rex Trulove Post author

      Yes. On the rare occasion that he has used his claws, if I say, “Ouch!”, he immediately lets go and starts loving up against me as if he’s saying, “Sorry!” I know that he never means to.

    3. Gil Camporazo

      I am heart broken when I see animals maltreated by others. They stone them, drown them, apply anything to hurt and punish the helpless animals. Why not they try hurting the Lion, the tiger, the leopard, the panther? Let’s see what they can get.

    4. Rex Trulove Post author

      I feel the same way. Cruelty is never good and it is always pointless. It sure doesn’t say much about the character of the person who does it, either.

  5. Andria Perry

    I have many stories like you do about animals, I consider all animals as being smart. When my sisters cat gets in trouble it will cry, yes make a crying noise with her meows!

    When I open the gate to the back yard I can tell Roscoe, my golden that I rescued, that I am not going to walk till I get Harley, my beagle another rescue, and he will go out back ans sit by Harley 🙂 Then go crazy wanting to run off after I get the leash on Harley.

    I stumbled this article.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      Yep, that sounds familiar. My son in law’s black lab will start acting strange, pestering and getting in the way at every step, and I’ll ask her what she wants. She’ll run out, grab a fir cone, bring it in and lay it at my feet, then wag her tail from her nose all the way back. She doesn’t say anything, but it is obvious that she wants to play AND that she understood the question.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      I can’t even begin to count all the cats we’ve rescued or adopted through the years. Each has been intelligent and they have all had their own unique personalities.

  6. Francine Labelle

    I certainly agree. Cats and dogs alike are intelligent and also great companions. And unlike the saying “fighting like cats and dogs” they do get along as long as they are introduced early enough to each other. One example is my Tasha and Runt. Tasha (the dog) would often have Runt (the cat) sleeping right beside her with no qualms. Runt would often come up and hug Tasha. As you can surmise I am writing in the past tense because my dear, sweet Tasha is no more. Runt is now living with my ex. But I visit them both often and Runt still remembers me. Runt is an exceptional cat as he is a polydactyl cat with a total of 21 digits. He has the front paws thumbs and 6 digits on his left back paw and 5 digits on his right back paw.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      I know what you mean about cats and dogs getting along. I lost my little dog in August of last year, something that still saddens me, and Paws was actually in mourning for almost two weeks. Paws thought that Dante (the dog) was HIS pet. In the bottom picture above, the dog that GW is loving up against is Dante. GW wasn’t much smaller than Dante and paws was quite a bit bigger. Dante only stood 8 inches at the shoulder and weighed 3 pounds, so he was a tiny thing. He was named Dante because he didn’t know he was little and would make much bigger dogs back down. The was no doubt, though, that he loved Paws as much as Paws loved him.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      I’ve been rehabilitating injured animals for over 50 years now and I don’t think that I’ve come across more than a handful that weren’t smart to at least some degree. Yet, many people persist in thinking of animals as being stupid. Sheesh.

    2. Rex Trulove Post author

      I started when I was 8 and had a great mentor named Lefty Wild Eagle, a Blackfoot Indian. Since I’m Cherokee, I was grandfathered in and was allowed to rehabilitate animals, though not in an official capacity. Over the years, I’ve helped hawks, owls, squirrels, a fawn, a coyote, snakes, lizards, possums, raccoons and many more animals.

      Fostering injured or needy animals is very worthwhile, valuable and noble. Good job!

  7. Priscilla King

    I agree that most cats are smarter than most humans seem to think. I see variations…I try to give all cats the chance to convince me that they’re as intelligent (for cats) as humans are (for humans), i.e. about as bright as I am, but a substantial minority of both cats and humans manage to convince me that they *are* stupid. (E.g. Minnie-brat was an annoying cat, who exchanged services but never real affection with me for years, but she was very intelligent. And the late lamented relative I’ve called Oogesti in cyberspace had a pretty good brain when he chose to use it, and used it well enough to stay active for almost ninety years, but due to a choice to be undisciplined and emotional, for social purposes he was stupid.)

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      Do you agree that if we treat them as if they are stupid, they are likely to act that way?

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      One of the things that can upset me fast is to see someone being cruel to a cat or any other animal. Yes, they are clean as long as they are well. They constantly clean themselves.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      Currently, we have the fewest animals we’ve had in nearly 20 years; 5 cats, 1 dog, 2 turtles, 3 toads, 3 ring necked doves, 3 finches, plus our daughter’s 3 cats, 2 dogs and we also have a cat that was a stray. We fed it and cared for it, and it stayed. I can’t say that it is ours or our daughter’s, it belongs to all of us.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      One thing about turtles, they do usually live for a long time. We’ve had our two for about 15 years now.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      It is still a youngster. lol Both of ours are females; Terry and Jasmine. They are red eared turtles. What kind is yours? Male or female?

  8. Priscilla King

    @rextrulove In a way, yes–if we lock into the belief that X is stupid, mean, senile, etc., and X tries to demonstrate otherwise and fails, X may decide to play along with the misbelief. (Sometimes while ripping us off and laughing behind our backs…there’s a classic story, which Bing refuses to help me find today, about a slave who acted too “old,” stupid, and timid to take every opportunity someone gave him to escape, then led all the slaves on the old plantation to Canada a few weeks later. From this story we get the expression “shuffling.”)

    But then there are the ones you really want to see as intelligent (or nice or whatever), and they just aren’t. Like some men who really prefer annoying women over forming an actual relationship with one. Some of my cat family have refused to act like pets with me because they’d bonded with other cats and respected those cats’ claims to be my real owners (Violet’s doing that now), but then the kittens Gwai and Paley really were sub-par in some way I never felt I understood at all. Not only in relation to humans, but in terms of apparent survival intelligence. Paley was at best badly retarded/delayed, and Gwai may have been truly “crazy.”

    Or maybe: communicating with cats is not at all like trying to communicate with autistic humans…unless there’s such a thing as an autistic cat.

  9. Priscilla King

    And what made Gwai and Paley seem so remarkably unreachable was that both of them belonged to the family of incredibly social and clever cats. The older cats tried to teach them that they had names, the way they taught other kittens in this family. Those two kittens did not learn to respond.

    At least Paley had the excuse that his mother had been ill and wasn’t really mature enough to have normal kittens (his litter mates all died). I have no idea what went wrong with Gwai. Daughter of one awesome pet, sort-of named after another one…she was just “strange and spooky” all her short life. Antisocial. Maybe she really was autistic.

    1. Rex Trulove Post author

      I see this as an exception to the rule. I’ve known some people whom I’ve really liked who were slow, mentally. That didn’t stop them from being really good people. I believe that there are cats (or dogs or about any other animal that can be named) that are also slow, mentally. They might otherwise be excellent pets, they just aren’t at the level of mentality that would be considered average for that kind of animal.

  10. Priscilla King

    Yes. Paley’s mother was one. Sweet, social, pretty, very lovable, but she never had what it took to be a “barn cat.” She was the sort of cat for whom I *do* recommend sterilizing the animal and keeping it as an indoor pet, and I’m glad to report we found that sort of home for her. (Also glad that there’ve not been any more like her in the family.)

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