If you have pets you may find yourself often wondering what they’re thinking about.
Maybe you’re trying to figure out why your parrot twirls around when it sees itself in a mirror.
Or maybe you’re stumped as to why your cat is always purring.
Pets are not only our trusted companions, they are actually really smart creatures!
Parrot owners already know their pets are smart, but are they more intelligent than other animals?
Cats are often considered clever and cunning, but are parrots smarter than cats?
For the most part, the answer to this question is… yes! Not only do parrots have excellent memory and advanced communication skills, but they also perform better than cats in standard pet intelligence tests. Some aspects of intelligence are comparable, but in the end parrots come out on top.
This article will explain how we measure animal intelligence, the differences and similarities between parrot’s and cat’s intelligence, how each animal performs in the ‘mirror test’, who is easier to train, and what parrot vs. cat communication tells us about who’s smarter.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
How is animal intelligence measured?
For a long time humans considered themselves the only intelligent species, but years of research and new findings demonstrate that animals are actually more intelligent than we thought.
So how can we determine an animal’s level of intelligence?
Well, unlike humans, intelligence for animals is not determined by communicative ability, spatial intelligence or dealing with emotions, for example.
Rather, animal intelligence can be defined by an animal’s skills and abilities to adapt to their surroundings.
So which animals have the highest level of intelligence?
How can we even begin to compare?
If you want to find out if your pet parrot or cat is smarter there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Comparison can be difficult since each animal falls into a different category and communicates in different ways.
Also, parrots and cats have different abilities that demonstrate intelligence in different ways.
Despite these differences, there are some signs and tests for both animals to help us compare in order to find out which one is the smartest.
Facts on parrot and cat intelligence
Even though they have tiny brains, don’t let the size deceive you!
Birds are considered smart, with parrots ranking amongst the most intelligent.
Studies show that Parrots have high cognitive levels, have excellent memory and are even highly social creatures.
When most people think of parrots they probably associate them with their ability to imitate speech and perform tricks.
These levels of imitation go beyond simply repeating your jokes back to you.
Parrot imitation in fact displays levels of understanding and logical thinking, similar to children.
Even though we don’t see trained cats wearing uniforms and aiding police officers like dogs, cats are intelligent in their own right.
When studying the brain we can look at the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex — the part of the brain which helps us make rational decisions, problem solve, and save memories.
Cats have a well-developed cerebral cortex, providing them with a long-term memory.
A cat’s memory is even better than a dog’s!
When it comes to concerns of safety and survival, cats put their problem-solving skills to use.
Similar to humans, cats learn by observing and imitating, and then putting this knowledge into practice.
So like parrots, they demonstrate a level of intelligence equal to young children.
The ‘mirror test’: parrots vs. cats
Researchers often test animal intelligence based on an animal’s ability to recognize itself in a mirror.
This test considers the animal’s level of self-awareness. Human children begin recognizing themselves in the mirror at about 12 months old.
When tested on animals, parrots are among the elect group known to have passed the mirror test.
When presented with a mirror, parrots will inspect themselves and angle themselves to see the body parts they can’t see without the mirror.
Parrots understand that they are looking at themselves and will even play around in front of the mirror.
While we’ve all seen hilarious videos of cats playing with a mirror on the internet, cats actually don’t recognize that they are the one in the reflection.
Some cats are simply not interested in the mirror and will ignore it completely, while others will look around the mirror to see if they can find the other cat.
The extent of cat self-awareness remains a mystery.
Are parrots or cats easier to train?
Teaching your parrot to speak and perform tricks will not only provide wholesome entertainment but also strengthens your bond with your pet and encourages development.
How easy is it to train your parrot?
Parrots respond well to positive reinforcement.
It’s recommended to reward your parrot when it does something good and ignore any bad behavior rather than punishing them.
Although parrots are quite smart and responsive, they are a prey animal which results in a more cautious demeanor.
If you create a relaxed environment for training and remain patient, your parrot will eventually be able to learn how to do more complex tasks and tricks.
Cats are also not difficult to train if you’re teaching simple actions.
While cats may not seem as enthusiastic to learn, they can be trained over time.
More complicated tasks such as teaching your cat to stop scratching will take a lot more time and patience.
Ultimately, both animals are trainable, but Parrots can learn more complex actions faster than cats.
How do parrots and cats communicate?
Parrots and cats both have the ability to communicate, but in very different ways.
Parrots can talk!
This skill sets parrots apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.
Many researchers consider African Grey parrots the top of their class.
They can learn an impressive amount of human words and use them to communicate with us in context.
African Greys are able to associate words with their meanings and even form simple sentences.
However, most of the time parrots are not speaking coherently, but rather are mimicking human language.
This is why many parrots end up imitating their owners and repeating words or phrases they say frequently.
So while parrots may not be able to hold an actual conversation, their ability to mimic shows a parrot’s amazing ability to learn and associate language.
According to the Library of Congress, cats communicate in different forms with other cats and with humans.
They can communicate vocally through meowing, purring and hissing, as well as with their bodily behavior.
Researchers believe that cats more frequently meow to communicate with humans rather than with other cats.
Sometimes cats use meowing as a form of manipulation to get what they want.
Many cat owners feel they understand what each meow means, but this is just personal belief.
A cat’s purr is often associated with happiness, but it can also signal distress or anxiety.
Cats also use their bodies to communicate, whether it’s curling up their tails or rubbing their bodies against your leg or a chair.
Both parrots and cats have their own unique forms of communication.
It’s hard to compare which methods are more impressive, but it clearly shows that both animals are smart!
While we can’t compare every measure of intelligence directly, we can gather from the various tests and skills that parrots have an advanced level of communication, cognition, memory and self-recognition and are therefore, smarter.