Let’s face it, cats aren’t exactly known for being dumb creatures. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The ancient Egyptians worshipped them like gods, and anyone who’s ever lived with a feline can attest to their exceptionally clever and wily ways. So, why would you want to make your smart cat even smarter?
Well, a cat’s natural behavior and intelligence don’t get much of a workout when they live a cushy, indoor existence. They don’t have to hunt for food, and they don’t have much to chase. Everything is basically done for them.
But boosting your cat’s skills and intelligence boosts their brain function, which may keep their brains younger for longer.
This is because it staves off age-related mental decline, just as with humans.1
The best part is, cats are renowned for having a great memory, so your newly-minted smart cat should retain everything you teach them.2
So, you’re probably wondering how to train a cat? It does sound easier said than done.
The answer is – games!
1. Food Puzzles
Food puzzles are popular with dogs, but they may also help boost your cat’s IQ. The whole idea behind food puzzles is that it forces your pet to use their mind before they can receive a food reward – and, oh boy, do they want that treat. It also helps their natural hunting instinct kick in.3
You can buy a great range of food puzzles in all shapes and sizes, or you can make your own. A common store-bought example is the Kong. These come in round shapes, and allow you to stuff the middle with treats. Your cat will have to work out how to get the treats, and hopefully, they’ll be occupied for a while. You can also make your own food puzzle by using a paper towel or toilet paper roll and cutting holes in the side. Then, fill it with treats and tie off the ends. Your cat will battle the tube until it determines how to get the treats to fall out.
You can also hide your cat’s food in different places around the house for them to find. Just don’t make it so difficult that they can’t find it. This type of training may also sharpen up their hunting instincts.
2. The Old Feather on a String Trick
You’ve possibly tried this trick to give yourself a laugh – dangling a feather on a piece of string in front of your cat and watching them go mad trying to catch it. It’s great fun to watch, but it’s also helping your cat become smarter. It forces them to figure out how to get that feather. It makes them think, while also burning off some feline energy.
You can also create a similar trick for when you’re not around by attaching a feather, or a piece of string, to a low shelf, or to an indoor cat tree.
3. Water Games
You’re thinking, “Haha, no… cats and water don’t mix!” But water games can be stimulating to a kitty. Many cats are actually fascinated by water – even if they don’t wish to swim in it.
Fill up your sink, or a large bowl, and drop in some colorful marbles. Ideally, you want your cat to try and get the marbles out of the water. You can also add some ping pong balls, or other floatable toys that will float on top, to make it more of a challenge. Your cat may not get all the marbles, but they should have fun trying and splashing about.
This is a great game for improving your smart cat’s problem-solving intelligence.4
Who doesn’t love a game of hide-and-seek? A smart cat certainly does! This is because it utilizes their hunting instincts. They also love to hide out in small, comforting spaces – and any cat owner knows how much cats love a box.
In order to teach your cat to play hide-and-seek, you need to also remind them that it’s a game, so they don’t get worried that you’ve gone missing. So, make sure to keep calling out to them, so they hear your voice. Start with just a few minutes at a time, and then stop. Keep trying this in small spurts, and keep communicating. They’ll soon get the hang of it. When you “find” each other, make sure you make a big deal out of it, so your cat feels rewarded for their intelligence.
So, now that you know that a smart cat equals a healthy cat, isn’t it time to start teaching your old cat some new tricks?
Yes, cats can be very particular in their behavior. But because of their natural instincts, most games should easily catch their attention. So, before you sit down with that Sudoku puzzle, why not set your cat up with some mind-training entertainment as well?
Disclosure: The Dr Marty’s Pets team creates these articles as a way to provide you with the latest information on health and nutrition. Unfortunately, we cannot make specific product recommendations for our website visitors, such as “Dr Marty’s Nature’s Feast” or “Feline Prime” Please consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best products for you.