Could a cat be retarded?

Could a cat be considered mentally deficient as related to other felines of the same breed?

Thegeneral subject of mental retardation in animalshas been discussed before. I’ve wondered this myself, and never heard a definitive answer about it. Clearly animals can suffer brain damage though.

From personal experience I’d say; yes.
For a given value of ‘retarded’ off course.

I’ve known several cats that were (are) significantly slower than most other cats.
Resulting in an inability to hold their own in relations with other cats and a general uncatlike clumsiness.

My SO’s mother used to breed and sell Maine Coons, and often tells the story of one of her brood who was sweet as hell, but…not all there. One example is that he yawned one day, and in closing his mouth afterwards, pierced his own tongue with his incisor. It took the entire family to catch him, hold him, and free the tongue.

Upon which he immediately yawned…and pierced his own tongue again, with the same incisor.

That’s only one story out of hundreds regarding this particular animal. I would assume that with the pressures of surviving in the wild removed, the intelligence of domesticated animals would fall along a bell curve, with some being on the lower outlying end.

I don’t believe so, because of how “mental retardation” is diagnosed in humans.

A series of tests is given, then a ton of scores are collected. Those in a given range would be labeled “mentally retarded.”

Intelligence testing in animals is notoriously unreliable because animals can’t speak. We don’t know why, for example, chimps are pressing certain symbols on buttons in a certain order to get a treat. Do they understand that they get a treat if they do X, Y, then Z? Or, is it a trained behavior, like flinching. Or, why do dogs understand commands? Do they actually understand language, or do they just memorize sound patterns?

Therefore, in terms of the definition and diagnosis of “mental retardation,” we can’t use the same tools that we use on humans.

Conversely, I’ve had cats that were inordinately intelligent and incredibly dumb.

I live in a house with one retarded cat, one schitzoid cat, and one fraidy cat. I often wonder what a normal cat would be like.

Oh, we have one of those. We have two of the other kind though. :slight_smile:

Cats do such bizarre things as a matter of course that I’m not sure how one would tell if the animal was mentally off.

Along similar lines, do some cats get dementia as they age?

Scenario: the cats begs insistently for food. I go out to the kitchen, with the cat scurrying a half step in front of me, and the food dish is full. Okay, to this step it could be normal cat weirdness.

But as we enter the kitchen the cat seems to spot her food dish and races to it, gives it a sniff, and dives in ravenously. Huh? If she was complaining the flavor of the food or something, wouldn’t she continue dancing around and yowling until I gave her something ‘better’ to eat?

It truly looks to me like the cat had FORGOTTEN where its food dish was. Given the cat is about 14 years old AND the food dish has been in the exact same position for all those years…

And, man, I hope the next step isn’t forgetting where the litter box is. :frowning:

Absolutely. I’ve seen it personally. It does not manifest the same as a human but they can certainly display distinctly diminished behavior as they age.

My friend’s cat, for instance, took to not quite pooping in the cat box. It’d try, it’d get close, but but not always make it. As it aged it got worse and eventually was pooping pretty much anywhere.

Cats and dogs are animals. Humans are animals as well. There is no reason to suppose our pets cannot suffer the same age related maladies humans can. Of course their intellect is not that of a human so an intellectually diminished cat is probably not as apparent as a diminished human but it is there just the same. If the cat lived in the wild such diminished capacity would be a death sentence. Our pets far outlive their wild analogues.

I have also met some dogs which, while nice, I could only describe as retarded. Again, I see no reason why a dog (which is an intelligent creature) cannot have variations in intellect. Just like humans some will be mentally handicapped. In the wild they would not survive but as pets some will find homes and get on just fine.

Based only on my observations of the cats I’ve owned, I’d have to say that from what I’ve seen, cats (like humans) operate within a continuum. I’ve had a cat who never really left kittenhood, in spite of the fact that she made it to age 12; and a cat whom I watched study a problem and apply a logical solution that he remembered to use next time. In between are all sorts of others (I’ve probably owned 11 cats in all in my life).

After observing such a range of behaviours in my own cats, I’d suggest that the continuum could be wider than my experience; and as such, some cats might suffer some sort of retardation.

A dog can certainly be retarded.

Evidence of aretarded cat and dog.

I’m not sure about my cat. She acts like she’s not the brightest bulb in the box, but I wonder…

She doesn’t seem too clear on the concept of doors - if she’s in the room and pushes the door closed, she can’t figure out how to get out. That’s pretty much normal for cats (though some know the “paw under door and pull” trick). But if she’s outside the room she doesn’t know to push on the door. One time when she decided to rub her back on the doorframe and got the door instead, she pushed the door open, fell through, and acted very surprised that it had happened. *

On the other hand, she will use a speed dial button on my phone to call one particular person. If I rearrange the order of the buttons, she’ll figure out the new one within a few days.

  • It seems to me that all cats have the “I meant to do that - really!” response when something they do has an unexpected result.

Yes. My oldest cat is definitely losing it. He sees you put down the dish of his “medicinal tuna” (medicine mixed with a can of tuna so you can just weigh out 1.0 oz of tuna to get the right dose), then forgets where the dish is until you show him again. Goes down to the litter box, looks around as if wondering why he’s there, walks away, then a minute later goes back and actually uses it. Things like that. He wasn’t that out of it even last year.

My parents had a cat that was quite clearly mentally not all there. Living with that cat, and then with a normal cat, it was quite obvious.

We had a Maine Coon who was the stupidest animal I have ever met. If the glass door to the balcony was closed, he would run into it every single time. He loved to get up on the table and bat at flowers. We had an arrangement with cattails. He would hit one, it would burst open, and he’d be so surprised he’d fall off the table. It happened six times before I threw the rest of them away.

Cat’s name was Maniac, but I called him “The Retard.”

Cats have a brain, including a cerebral cortex. Like any organ, in any animal, it can be damaged. Brain damage would show up as acting all retarded and shit.

You couldn’t classify it as “mentally retarded” in the way we do in humans, simply because we don’t have a way to quantify intelligence in other animals the way we do in ourselves. But yes, cats can have significantly lower mental abilities than others. Our dear departed MaggieMoo was such cat. She at various times forgot who I was because I left the apartment for a few hours, and forgot her way around a 3-room apartment she’d lived in for 2 years because she stayed with DoctorJ’s parents for a couple of weeks. Her successor isn’t a terrible lot sharper–he got loose once and spent five days living in a shed at the top of our hill because he couldn’t find his way home from the back yard. These are NOT normal cognitive abilities for a domestic shorthair.

This must be why I’ve never found anything that specifically said animals could be mentally retarded, although the term brain damaged has been used. We had a collie back when, who was reasonably intelligent for a dog (maybe a little slow for a collie). After we changed the shape of the back deck and moved the stairs, she would always go back to where the stairs used to be to come in. She could stand there for a long time looking confused until someone or the other dog used the stairs or spoke to her. With a dog, it would be very hard to diagnose what was going on there.