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Are cats smart enough?

Many cats sometimes astonish us by their slyness and ingenuity. Sometimes they drive us to despair by their inability to understand simple things. Sometimes we have to exclaim:"Oh, you silly cat!" And at the same time we proud of the intellect of our cat. This happens because we judge their intellect by human criterions. Cats are more stupid than people in some way, but at the same time they are able to do such things that people never can do. Consider an animal that have been lost or deserted by their masters and thus deprived of home and food. Many of these animals adapt to circumstances at once, and manage to maintain their living by hunting and begging, quickly find a dry and warm place to have a rest and live such a semi-wild life until, if they are lucky, they find a new house. Is it possible for man to adapt himself just thus quickly after becoming a tramp?

Why then cats think in other way than we do? Scientists appear to decline out-of-date idea that all living things may be set in a line from the most stupid to the cleverest. All species of animals as a result of evolution live in a definite way in a definite place of Earth and today there's no any creature that would do this better if being put in somebody's else place. If this happens and primary animals are displaces by the higher then the former ones are very probable to die out. In this sense all species have the same advantages, and one cannot consider one species as the highest only because its' intellect is closer to a human. Nowadays psychologists that are interested in animals speak about the ecological super abilities as the ability of a certain kind of animal to adapt to unusual situations. Some species that a perfectly suit their environment may occur unable to accommodate themselves to substantial changes, at least during life of one generation. Others, such as monkeys and dolphins, are so good at learning and acquiring skills that easily adapt to any new situation.

Cats are somewhere between two these extremities. Being exclusively carnivorous animals they are notable for high abilities to study that are limited by a degree of changes they may face. One may illustrate this conducting an easy experiment in which a cat and a rat are put into a narrow and long room with sound equipment in one corner and a small window through which the food is delivered. A ten second filliping in speaker precedes delivering of plate with food. Rats catch the link between sound and food very quickly and by some tests run towards a plate as soon as hear the familiar sound. Cats understand with difficulty that a sound in one place means food in other place. They run towards the speaker and attack it as if the food is hidden behind. Sound means much for a cat the hunter and it's difficult to unchain the link between the source of sound and food location. Rats that sometimes eat carrion have no such associations that is why the easily learn a new lesson. This doesn't mean that rat is cleverer than a cat. Cat has IQ (intelligence quotient) higher than rat and there are many other situations cats are able to cope with easily, but not rats.

This merely means that cats are better at learning things that are at use to them during hunting.

Translated by Tatiana Karpova (Moscow)
(MSU, Biology faculture, Dep. zoology and ecology).