The Most Intelligent Cat Breeds to Keep as Pets

It's not too difficult to identify smart cats. They usually have plenty of energy, along with a mischievous streak. Most are inquisitive, highly in tune with their household activities, and enjoy the challenge of learning tricks and interactive games. If you're looking for a clever kitty, here are 10 of the smartest cat breeds.

Tip

Environmental enrichment, such as food puzzles, can help prevent boredom in all cats and is especially beneficial to intelligent cats. Without some kind of outlet to challenge them mentally, smart cats might develop behavioral problems.

  • 01 of 10

    Abyssinian

    Abyssinian cat standing on a tree stump

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    This sleek-looking cat is athletic, agile, and affectionate toward humans. Abyssinians are very intelligent and highly in tune with the activities of their families. They're generally not lap cats, but they thrive on human attention, especially in the form of petting or grooming. They also tend to enjoy the company of other animals.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 8 to 12 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Tall, pointy ears; wedge-shaped head; slender and muscular body

  • 02 of 10

    Balinese

    Chocolate Balinese cat lying by a window

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    The Balinese is basically the longhaired version of the Siamese cat breed. They tend to be active cats that love to investigate everything their humans are doing. They're also chatty cats that like to vocalize their opinions. They're typically affectionate with their families but can get into mischief exploring their home, especially if they aren't challenged mentally.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 6 to 7 inches

    Weight: 8 to 12 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Wedge-shaped head; slender body; blue eyes

  • 03 of 10

    Bengal

    Bengal cat outdoors

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    The Bengal is perhaps best known for its exotic coat that resembles a jaguar or leopard. This breed originated from crossing a domestic cat with an Asian leopard cat. Bengals are highly intelligent, athletic, and still a bit wild. They love to run, jump, climb, and play. They require ample space for exercise (especially vertical space), as well as mental challenges, such as puzzle games.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 15 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Sleek, muscular body; striped and spotted coat

  • 04 of 10

    Burmese

    burmese cat

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    The Burmese is an energetic and friendly breed that loves to engage with its people. These cats are clever, adaptable, playful, and trainable. But they do thrive on socialization and prefer company, including that of other animals. A companion not only can prevent loneliness but also boredom that can lead to mischief.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 6 to 10 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Round, golden eyes; compact, muscular body

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Cornish Rex

    white cornish rex cat wearing a harness

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    The most unique feature of the Cornish Rex is its wavy coat. These cats are active and friendly, and some say they're rather dog-like in their play, even into their senior years. Many even enjoy games of fetch. If you're looking for a highly interactive cat, a Cornish Rex could be a good choice.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 12 to 14 inches

    Weight: 6 to 10 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Curved body; high cheekbones; large ears

  • 06 of 10

    Havana Brown

    Havana Brown cat on pet bed

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    The Havana brown is a beautiful cat with a silky, chocolate-colored coat. This is a relatively rare cat breed that originated from crossing the Siamese with several other breeds. They're typically intelligent, inquisitive, and chatty cats that love socialization with their families. They're moderately energetic and prefer interactive toys to challenge them mentally and physically.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 11 inches

    Weight: 8 to 10 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Deep brown color; green eyes; large ears

  • 07 of 10

    Korat

    Adult Korat cat sitting

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    Another rare breed, the Korat is a native cat of Thailand and is considered good luck in its homeland. Korats are moderately energetic, enjoying interactive games, but they also love their naps. They're very smart and attentive to the world around them. They thrive on attention and are typically affectionate with their families.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 5 to 11 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Heart-shaped head; somewhat stocky body

  • 08 of 10

    Savannah Cat

    Savannah cat sitting

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    The Savannah cat is a rare and exotic breed with high intelligence. Developed by crossing African servals with domestic cats, this large breed kept some of its wild side in appearance and attitude. These cats aren't for everyone. They need lots of space to run, jump, and play. And they get bored easily, requiring sufficient interaction and environmental enrichment.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 12 to 14 inches

    Weight: 20 to 30 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Tall, lean body; erect ears; golden coat with dark spots and bars

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Siamese

    Siamese cat sitting on a bed

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    One of the world's most popular and recognizable cat breeds, the Siamese is known for its beautiful coat, curious nature, and chatty tendency. These cats are smart, affectionate, and energetic. They love to play and will entertain themselves by turning on faucets or opening cabinets if their humans don't give them enough environmental enrichment.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 8 to 10 inches

    Weight: 8 to 10 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Sleek body; almond-shaped eyes; wedge-shaped head

  • 10 of 10

    Singapura

    singapura cat crouching

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    As its name implies, the Singapura originated on the streets of Singapore. The breed came to the U.S. during the 1970s and is still considered rare. These small cats are generally playful, outgoing, and curious. And they love to be involved with what their humans are doing. They're rather active and love to climb, so make sure to provide plenty of vertical space.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 7 to 8 inches

    Weight: 5 to 8 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Light beige color; compact body; eyes can be yellow, hazel, or green

Breeds to Avoid

Certain cat breeds can make great pets, but they aren’t necessarily known for their smarts. Birmans, Persians, Himalayans, exotic shorthairs, and ragdolls aren’t typically highly intelligent cats. Still, many of these felines are affectionate, playful, and easygoing companions.