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View Full Version : Could a cat be retarded?


Kilmore
03-16-2011, 07:14 PM
Could a cat be considered mentally deficient as related to other felines of the same breed?

TriPolar
03-16-2011, 07:26 PM
The general subject of mental retardation in animals (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?t=357135)has been discussed before. I've wondered this myself, and never heard a definitive answer about it. Clearly animals can suffer brain damage though.

The Librarian
03-16-2011, 08:12 PM
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.

Kolga
03-16-2011, 09:20 PM
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.

Superhal
03-16-2011, 09:36 PM
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.

UncleRojelio
03-16-2011, 09:43 PM
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.

Zsofia
03-16-2011, 09:52 PM
Oh, we have one of those. We have two of the other kind though. :)

Chefguy
03-16-2011, 10:24 PM
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.

StarvingButStrong
03-17-2011, 12:35 AM
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. :(

Whack-a-Mole
03-17-2011, 12:46 AM
Along similar lines, do some cats get dementia as they age?


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.

Spoons
03-17-2011, 01:06 AM
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.

EvilTOJ
03-17-2011, 03:40 AM
A dog can certainly be retarded (http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/07/dog.html).

TriPolar
03-17-2011, 03:43 AM
Evidence of a retarded cat and dog (http://comics.com/get_fuzzy/2011-03-13/).

Terry Kennedy
03-17-2011, 05:55 AM
I've known several cats that were (are) significantly slower than most other cats.
I'm not sure about my cat (http://tmk.com/tiger). 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.

Cheshire Human
03-17-2011, 10:19 AM
Along similar lines, do some cats get dementia as they age?

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.

Malthus
03-17-2011, 10:23 AM
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.

Annie-Xmas
03-17-2011, 10:58 AM
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.

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."

purplehorseshoe
03-17-2011, 11:56 AM
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.

CrazyCatLady
03-17-2011, 12:18 PM
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.

TriPolar
03-17-2011, 12:48 PM
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.


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.

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.

code
03-17-2011, 01:43 PM
Saying someone or something is retarded has a couple possible meanings.

Scientific:
Technically to be retarded you have to take a IQ test and score 69 or less. Since there is no scientific IQ test for cats it is impossible to say that a cat is retarded on a scientific level.

Word Smith:
In modern English the definition for retarded has been expanded to mean anyone who has is mentally handicapped. The problem is that mentally handicapped is not defined and is something that people associate with anyone who is less smart then they decide is normal or average. So with this very broad definition a cat is guaranteed to be retarded when compared to most humans and could be retarded when compared to other cats who the evaluator decides are more or less intelligent.

Slang:
The popular use for the word retarded is summed up by meaning something that is 'stupid'. Once again stupid being a very loosely defined word in this context and it boils down to anyone or anything being eligible for retarded based on the evaluators discretion.

limegreen
03-17-2011, 02:01 PM
We had a brain-damaged cat -- emergency C-section for the mom, and she was the last one out. Our vet was a good friend, and I was in the room with them, helping to clamp cords and rub the kittens to life. I didn't think this one was going to make it, but she did. However. She had definite problems, and would run into walls several times a day. We called her "Dain Bramage".

Jackmannii
03-17-2011, 02:19 PM
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 reminds me of a Thurber story mentioning people who were scornful of dogs' intelligence, citing examples of dogs found running loose who allegedly were so stupid they couldn't find their way home from the next block.

Thurber raised the possibility that the dogs might not want to go home.

Chefguy
03-17-2011, 02:53 PM
My niece had a dog that was eventually diagnosed with a brain tumor. They thought he was just psychotic or feeble minded for quite awhile. He was afraid of the dark and would burrow into a corner of the laundry room and yelp feebly until somebody turned on a light.

Snickers
03-17-2011, 03:35 PM
Distemper can cause brain damage, especially in the later stages. If the cat doesn't die but recovers, it'll likely have brain damage. My sister had a cat like this - as a kitten, he caught distemper. We saw he was in trouble - he'd just started walking in circles - and took him to the vet, who gave us some medicine but didn't think he'd make it. Turns out, he did. But he was "off" after. You could even see it in his face, in the eyes and such. Poor guy.

Leo Bloom
03-17-2011, 08:31 PM
A white tiger, over-inbred specifically to be white (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100706122246AAcqHQk), was retarded at birth. It was severely deformed in other ways (see image link at cite).

As we know, in breeding is a cause of mental retardation.

FuzzyOgre
03-18-2011, 02:05 AM
I think my cat had distemper. Hes a little awkward about jumping and can be clumsy about his back feet. Hes improved since he I got him(from the pound) though, and jumps more now, though he always hesitates and plans it carefully.

Hes also effectively mute, though that might be because he seems to be a Chartreaux cat. http://fanciers.com/breed-faqs/chartreux-faq.html. Once in a while(like once a month) he will squawk something at me. Its most like a buzz-chirp sound.

So he communicates by pantomime and demonstration. He doesnt seem to be short upstairs though, as he takes hand signals as well as voice commands, and I can ask him to find the other cat.

Hyperelastic
03-18-2011, 08:36 PM
I had a cat who didn't clean himself. He was absolutely filthy, with dirt and burrs stuck in his fur all the time. Considering the extreme attention to fur cleanliness most cats display, I've often wondered whether he was retarded.

I have four cats now, and there is a definite difference in their cognitive capacities. The nicest of the four is also the one who has never been able to figure out how to get through the cat flap. She sees the other cats do it and it just doesn't sink in. The cat flap leads into a sun room where we keep their food, water and litter boxes. We've left her out there for hours, hoping she would stumble on to the solution, but it never works. We have to prop open the flap or she'd never come in. This same cat has refused to go outside for about the last five years. Maybe she knows her limitations.

Then there is our smartest, and certainly meanest cat. I do believe that cats, like many people, use their intelligence for evil.

SciFiSam
03-18-2011, 09:23 PM
A dog can certainly be retarded (http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/07/dog.html).

I came on this thread specifically to post that link; a friend of mine linked to it today elsewhere, by coincidence. It's the dog's bollocks.# :cool:

The dog in that link had previously been mistreated, kept in a tiny kennel with little interaction since puppyhood, the kind of treatment that sometimes leads to retardation in other species, and no wonder, since it deprives them of learning opportunities.

That link also caused to google Dog IQ tests and the first one I found was almost certainly the one used by hyperboleandahalf. It's not an actual IQ test, of course, but it doesn't invole timed testing of certain skills that dogs would usually have, such as recognising a smile in a human or being able to get a treat out of an upturned cup.

That makes it pretty similar to IQ tests, IMO, particularly if you were using it in a diagnostic way, to rule out actual illness or whatever.

I tried it with my dog and the dog we look after, but only because it was fun and interesting, and we didn't do it properly because we had two dogs and two kids and one of the dogs is 7 months old, so the results wouldn't exacytly be meaningful. however, it was interesting to see what most dogs are cognitively capable of doing.

Presumably there's something similar for cats. It's a WAG (heh), but surely vets must assess animals for cognitive decline in some situations because it's often a symptom of other diseases.

#Meaning 'awesome.' The term came up a couple of times in recent GQ questions so I thought I'd take the opportunity to use it in the context of a terrible pun.

Terry Kennedy
03-19-2011, 03:49 AM
I had a cat who didn't clean himself. He was absolutely filthy, with dirt and burrs stuck in his fur all the time. Considering the extreme attention to fur cleanliness most cats display, I've often wondered whether he was retarded.
My parents had a cat that was very smart, but that didn't display most of the expected cat behavior.

She never groomed herself and had a large dandruff issue. Given that she was a solid black Tonkinese, this was pretty obvious. We'd have to shampoo her regularly. Fortunately, she loved water - she had learned how to jump in the sink and turn on the tap. One of her favorite tricks was doing this when visitors came over - she'd get soaking wet, then come over and wait for people to go "Nice kitty!" and pet her, then recoil when they discovered she was sopping wet (hard to see this on a black cat).

One time there was a large ant walking across the floor in front of her, and she reached out and batted it with her paw. Her smug expression of satisfaction at catching something turned to sheer terror and she started shaking her paw to get it off her... "What! It's not dead?!?! Get it off of me!!!".

We always assumed (we'd gotten her as a used cat, so we didn't know for sure) that she'd been taken away from her mother too soon and was never taught how to correctly apply her instinctive behavior.

Dog80
03-19-2011, 04:26 AM
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.

Human babies don't talk either, but a specialist can diagnose autism based on behaviour traits.

I guess cats and other animals can be judged by behaviour too.

Snowboarder Bo
03-19-2011, 04:51 AM
we'd gotten her as a used cat

lmfao nice phrasing; I'm going to start using it to describe my cat Heidi (http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v326/snowboarderbo/Heidi1.jpg), who I adopted from the shelter when she was (roughly) 3 years old or so. Tina & Leon were 8-week-old kittens when I got them from the shelter, so they weren't really used, just "waiting".

cplif
03-19-2011, 02:22 PM
I would certainly hesitate to use psychiatric terms for cats (and other domestic animals) but from experience there are not only great differences in intelligence (manifestation), but also clear changes. Herd dogs are notoriously difficult to find/breed, work horses can be fantastic, or completely dependant, ad nauseum.
I have had a cat that "went mad" actually attacking people that it cuddled up to hours earlier, when it happens once you could imagine some event, but when repeated with different people, at "random" moments you have to admit the possibility of illness.

I suspect a form of cat "psycosis", event caused trauma, with my actual beast. A typical "alley cat" that has never been closed in, in the two preceding houses, now panics immediately outside. Cats do have a sort of pleasure/discomfort trigger in their brain, and seem to lack temporal memory, but I still can't figger...

Whack-a-Mole
03-23-2011, 05:15 PM
Just had to revisit this thread to post this proof:

http://i.imgur.com/wkFTC.png ;-)

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
03-25-2011, 03:47 PM
Evidence of a retarded cat and dog (http://comics.com/get_fuzzy/2011-03-13/).

I do know a few years ago it was established that Bucky's IQ is 1.

That can't be true though. It's only a comic strip, after all. No real cat could have such a low IQ.

Right?

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