Most of the time, pets are adorable and funny, but they can be smart too–sometimes scarily so. The following people share stories of pets and other animals displaying high levels of intelligence–stories like birds playing tricks on people, golden retrievers saving their child humans from drowning, and thoughtful rats covering cold feet with blankets.
Check out these tales of incredibly intelligent animals!
40. Santa’s Fluffy Helper
I was setting up my Christmas tree and putting up the ball ornaments, which were in a box by the tree. My dog came by and tried to take some of the balls. I said that she couldn’t, they were for the tree, and did the “no” sign with my hands and pointed at the balls and then at the tree as I said it.
She went on her way and a few minutes later she came back with her little play ball. She put her little play ball in the box along with the other ornaments and pushed the box towards me. Then she lay with her belly up expecting belly rubs.
39. Game Of Chicken
While unintelligent in actions, it takes some kind of intelligence for an animal to know how to “play games.” I witnessed two crows perched up on the light post outside my house playing what I can only describe as a “game of chicken.” They both would jump off the light post simultaneously and free fall towards the ground, and fly off at the very last second.
My guess is whoever got closer to the ground won that round but who knows. Well, on one of their attempts, one of the crows waited too long and smacked right into the ground, lol. It got up and flew back to the top of the pole, but to this day it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever witnessed, and it was one of those things I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes.
38. Hey, Google!
I have a Senegal parrot, and if I put a plastic bottle cap in his cage, he’ll put it in his beak, scoop it full of water out of his water dish, and then sit on his perch and hold it in one claw and sip out of it like it’s a cup of coffee. I have no idea where he learned this!
I also have a conure and he’s trained to say “go poop” whenever he has to poop so that we avoid him crapping on the couch. He also knows how to kiss and like will say: “Hey Google” when he wants my attention because he knows it’s how I get Google’s attention.
37. Who Hates Beer Anyway?
I had a blue-crowned conure that would say “I want out” when he wanted out of his cage. It was the first thing he said. He wouldn’t let us stick our hand in the cage, so I sat on the couch every night and said “I want out” until he said it. When he did, I opened his cage and let him come out on his own. After that, he said it every time he wanted out.
He loved beer too. Every time I opened a beer, I’d say “Mmmm, beer.” I’d let it dribble out of the corner of my mouth and he’d drink it. So whenever I opened a beer, he’d say “Mmmm, beer,” and climb on my shoulder for sips. He had a big vocabulary for a conure. When he’d see me pick up my keys he’d say, “Bye bye, be a good boy.” He was pretty fun.
36. “I Don’t Like Your Ringtone; Answer It Or Change It!”
My mom was in her bedroom reading one night and her cell phone started ringing in the other room. Our dog, totally of her own accord, got up, went into the other room, picked up my mom’s ringing phone, brought it back to the bedroom, and dropped it in her lap.
Also, I have PTSD. When I have nightmares or night terrors, our dog wakes me up and snuggles with me/licks me. It’s the sweetest thing. I love the little guy.
35. Charlie: The Woman Hater
I had a pet sun conure a little while back. I wasn’t sure if it was a boy or girl, as I never got it checked, but I named it Charlie and generally referred to him as him. For some reason, Charlie hated women. Perfectly fine with all dudes, but would basically do the bird version of a growl any time a girl came too close. My girlfriend of the time was desperate for Charlie to like her, and for the first year of our relationship, he generally acted towards her the same way that he acted towards all women. Then one fateful day, we were sitting next to each other on the couch with Charlie on my shoulder. Charlie crawled his way down to my knee and did a little head bob and chirp that I generally associated with him being in a good mood. He then hopped onto my girlfriend’s knee and continued his displays of contentment. Head bopping, chirping, grooming, etc.
Over the course of the next hour, he would move up my girl’s legs and torso and find a new perch and continue to be his jolly little self. My girlfriend was paralyzed with excitement that Charlie was finally coming to accept her. Eventually, he made his way to her shoulder and, again, sat there being happy. My girlfriend is staring at me overjoyed. Then, out of nowhere, Charlie turns and bites her face as hard as he can, and immediately launches himself across the room to perch on our cabinet high up. He had meticulously planned tricking my girlfriend just to get close enough to bite her face. I’d like to think that was his thought process anyway.
34. The Sandwich Grabber
I had this mutt beagle mix. One time, I was making a sandwich, and he was begging for food, I promptly told him to go away. With a defeated look in his eye, he starts to walk away. All of a sudden, his ears pop up and he starts barking at the door and sits in front of it. He always did this if someone was at the door.
I put my sandwich on the counter and go to the door to unlock it. Once I get to the door, the little jerk bolts across the room, jumps on the counter, grabs the sandwich, runs and hides. I wasn’t even that mad; I was impressed.
33. Leading To The Safe Path
I was crossing a huge frozen river in the winter. The ice was about 1.5 feet in thickness, but some areas had low density. It was my dog, myself, my friend, and my friend’s dog. My friend crossed first and had one of her legs break through the less dense ice, but she made it. I then watched her dog cross very nervously and carefully in roughly the same path and not crack the ice.
Then came my turn. I actually sent my dog to go first. He sniffs the ground and goes to cross, but he takes this weird-scribbly path instead of going just straight. I ended up following him and noticed that the ice was the densest there. I crossed without a problem.
32. Great Raven
I spend a lot of time in the local mountains, and had summited one of the higher peaks enough times to establish a bit of a relationship with the ravens that lived on it. One summer, I was up there on a day that turned out to be much hotter than forecasted and one of the ravens approached me like usual, but this time came right next to me as I drank from my bottle and threw his head back, beak open, mimicking the chugging motion. I asked if he wanted some, he croaked in agreement, so I poured some in my hand and held it out.
That was still a little too close for comfort for him, so he walked away, and proceeded to walk around and inspect the surface of all of the rock until he found a large enough indent to hold some water. He croaked at me and pecked at the spot for me to pour some in, drank it up, and then walked back and bobbed his head happily before flying away. I’ve always known how intelligent they are, but it still strikes me how human their interactions can be!
31. This Is Why They’re Called “Retrievers”
When I was about 10, I was swimming at the beach in NC and got pulled out by the riptide. I was swimming mightily, but losing the battle and was rapidly being pulled out to sea while being simultaneously dragged further down the beach. I remember screaming for help as my arms started to fail from exhaustion and I was struggling hard to keep my head above water. I remember seeing my mom running down the beach from one direction yelling for me while a stranger was running from the other direction, alerted by my cries. I was panicking at this point; my mom seemed so far away that I knew she wasn’t going to make it.
About the time, my ten-year-old brain goes “and this is how you die,” I hear splashing. I turn my head and there is our faithful dog, a golden retriever. Apparently she had heard me screaming earlier than the humans and had started swimming to me. I just hadn’t noticed her due to the waves and my panic. I grabbed her collar and she towed me back to shore. I promptly collapsed, crying and exhausted in my mother’s arms, but alive thanks to my dog. Twenty-five years later and I’ve had several dogs since that old girl, but no other has been able to hold a candle to her.
30. A Cat With Spider Sense
I had a cat that was very shy and peaceful. He never bit or scratched anyone except one time. I woke up in pain. He was biting me hard and scratching me with all his strength.
As soon as I woke up he stopped, looked at me and ran away from me. I was curious and kinda upset so I followed him to my brother’s room where he was getting ready to go to work. He saw me and then… he fell to the floor in an epilepsy attack. That’s why my cat woke me up.
29. “That Will Teach You For Taking My Spot”
My Jack Russell would come into the living room, see our large mutt dog in the prime laying area, calmly walk over to the door and ask to go out. The large dog would leap up and run excitedly to the door. Jack Russell would wait for a human to head to the door and ask out again, all the while the large goofball was getting more excited.
Someone would open the door, the large dog would barrel out and bound around the yard before looking back at the door where the Jack Russell would stand long enough to make eye contact with him before smugly walking over to the prime laying area and kicking her feet out behind her to relax. If the mutt came back in, he would go stand by her and just look heartbroken before going somewhere else to lay.
28. Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
My uncle and aunt used to shut their cat and dog in the bathroom at night. Every morning they would be roaming the house getting into everything they weren’t supposed to be doing. Finally, my uncle got sick of this and slept in the tub one night.
Around 1 am, he woke up to a sound and witnessed the cat jump from the counter to hang on the doorknob. The dog would then swing the cat back and forth with its snout until the latch clicked and the door was able to be pushed open. To this day, it was the best example of animal teamwork I have ever heard.
27. “An Eye For An Eye”
I had a roommate who was a jerk to my dog. He would regularly walk by the dog and without warning, jump at him and yell. One day, my dog was lying by the front door when my roommate came home.
Suddenly, my dog got up, walked into the kitchen and hid to the side of the doorway. He waited for my roommate to walk in and then jumped out from behind the door and barked at him, scaring my roommate. Good boy.
26. The Cat Missed Him
I lived in the same apartment complex as my friend, but in different buildings. I lived on the first floor; he lived on the second. The buildings were designed so that you had to open a door to go inside to the central hall, where the front doors of the individual apartments were located. Additionally, the apartments had glass patio doors, which had hanging blinds. So my friend brought his cat over to my apartment one time, carried the cat from his building, across the parking lot, into my building, and through the front door. And then later carried him back home. That was the only time the cat was ever in my place.
Some time later, his cat managed to get outside, presumably because my friend is a bit of an idiot. I didn’t know this, but I started hearing a weird squeaking noise, and in trying to track it down I moved the blinds on the patio door to look outside. There was his cat, pawing at the glass door, who somehow figured out how to find my apartment from the outside, despite the fact that he couldn’t even see in, or had ever been through the patio door.
25. For Their Love Of Peanuts
My buddy lived on a sailboat at a marina. He had some local crows trained to clean the dock for him every morning. His slip was at the end of the dock and a local otter would leave crab shells and other shellfish shells on the dock every night. After trying all sorts of methods to keep the otter away, he started feeding local crows peanuts. He would sit at the cockpit and toss a peanut or two on the dock. The crows would come down grab the food and fly to a nearby vantage to eat it.
They would patiently wait every morning as he drank his coffee to get some peanuts. Once he had that association with the crows worked out, he would get up and clear the shells off the dock before tossing a peanut. It took about two weeks before the crows would have the dock cleaned off before he came topside in the morning.
24. Go Cover It!
Growing up we had three cats: two sisters, and a stray boy. My girl cat was notorious for dropping horrific-stench poop in the litter box and leaving them uncovered. The litter box was in the bathroom right off of our dining room.
One night she does this in the middle of dinner. Our boy cat was a beggar, so he was sitting right by the table. My mom looked at him and said, “Go in there and cover that up.” He promptly got up, ran into the bathroom and covered up her mess. My parents and I were dumbfounded for a moment.
23. “They Can’t All Be Geniuses”
I have a weirdly intelligent cat who I’ve seen perform experiments. We have an automatic litter box on a timer and every time it triggers she runs over to watch it and stare into it. Fair enough, right?
But recently she’s started “testing” it. She’ll just put a paw in, back out and watch for five minutes. Or she’ll go in and stand there and not use the litter, then leap out and watch. She threw a toy in once. Maybe I’m just anthropomorphizing her but it sure as heck seems like she’s testing the conditions for the rake to trigger, and it’s fascinating. Meanwhile, her sister walks into walls, desperately claws at the side of an open-top laundry basket begging to be let in, and keeps getting stuck behind cabinets, but hey. They can’t all be geniuses.
22. The Mailer Cat
Our cat – a big Maine Coon – delivers the mail from the letter slot to where I’m sitting. He grabs each piece of incoming mail in his teeth and proudly delivers it. If it’s heavier, he bats it with his paws until every piece arrives at my chair.
If there’s a piece that just too big, he sits at my feet, looking up, and “MROWs” to notify me that there’s something else at the door that “requires human attention.”
21. Domesticated Rats Are Like Tiny Dogs
When it was cold out and my bare feet were exposed, my rat would drag a blanket over my feet, aggressively tuck it in all around the edges, then fall asleep on top. I didn’t train him to do it; he just figured it out. I’m not saying he was a smart rat, just very kind. Most social animals will play fight for fun, and if one animal loses all the time, the winner lets the other animal win a percentage of times (usually around 30%) to keep them wanting to play in the future. My rat would intentionally and dramatically lose fights to a toy stuffed mouse so it would want to play with him in the future. He also lost fights to paper towels. Most animals also have a “safe word” for play fighting which means “please stop.” With rats, it’s a certain type of squeak. A short quiet squeak means “please slow down and don’t be so rough” while a long loud squeak means “Ouch! Stop now!”
For some reason, the same rat was really into gently biting noses. My girlfriend was annoyed at this, so I told her to just squeak at him and he’d stop. She said it didn’t work; he just paused, looked at her, then much more slowly and gently did it again. She squeaked again, and this time he looked her in the face for a long time, then went even slower and more gentle. This kept happening, with the bites becoming comically slow. I asked her to squeak so I could see what was happening. She was accidentally using the squeak for “please slow down and don’t be so rough” instead of the right one. He did it again and I used the “Ouch! Stop now!” squeak. He startled and looked at me shocked, then ran over to her to give her kisses, and didn’t bite her anymore on the nose.
20. A Catsitter
I have a diabetic cat and she’s not allowed outside unsupervised. I also have dogs that will go out to wander the yard and do their business and the cat will occasionally sneak out with them.
One dog somehow got this understanding that the cat is not supposed to be outside. He’ll consistently track her and if you ask him where she is, he’ll run off and find her. It’s one of the most amazing untrained things that my dog has done, and also the most useful. I never have to worry about where the cat is because he’s always able to track her down and bring her back inside.
19. The Savior Dolphins
When I was 15 years old, I would regularly go on deep sea boat rides with my dad. My dad owns a speedboat, which would go incredibly fast. One day the waters were choppy and we were about three miles away from the coast. After we hit one big wave, I was propelled out of the boat, and my dad didn’t even notice. He just kept driving as if nothing had happened. I tried to remain calm as I saw the speedboat get further and further away from me. I tried to slowly and calmly swim my way back to shore.
About a quarter of my way in, I started to feel something at my feet. I was really, really scared. This is the Pacific Ocean, so the water isn’t clear enough to see what it was. I was convinced it was a dangerous fish, such as a shark or something. I didn’t know what it was. I was incredibly scared. Eventually, I started to feel more fish around me, bumping into me. I didn’t feel any pain though. Eventually, I came to realize that they were dolphins. I thought they were cute and tried to ignore them, hoping they weren’t out to hurt me. Eventually, I started to realize what they were doing. They were pushing me back to shore. The dolphins were bumping into me and making circles around me as they got me closer and closer to the coast. It was the most amazing experience. A swim that would’ve taken me about an hour or two ended up taking around 20 minutes. It was by far the most amazing experience I’ve ever had with an animal.
18. Cats Can Sense Danger
My daughter was watching a friend’s cat. The cat NEVER left her room. My daughter was at work, but the cat peeked in the room I was in and meowed and left. It did this three times.
Finally, I said to him, “Okay Lassie, Timmy in the well again?” I followed the cat. I then discovered that my daughter left the iron on, sitting on the floor in her room. Good cat.
17. That’s What We Call A Real Monkey Business
There are monkeys roaming around free in certain parts of India. My family and I went to some tourist spots to explore. When we got there, a food cart guy said: “Make sure you take your sunglasses off or the monkeys will take them.” We laughed it off. Well, we were taking a selfie, and next thing you know, monkeys appeared and they took my sunglasses off my face, and another slipped the phone right out of my brother’s hand! Then they kept making noises, and we were freaking out because we wanted our stuff back obviously and it was just a scary scenario.
Then, a local passing by said, “You better give him food if you want your stuff back,” and we laughed it off no more. So we ran to the closest food cart, bought some snacks (peanuts I think it was), and the local said, “Now give him the food.” So as I extended the food, the monkey extended his hand with my sunglasses and then took the food while returning my sunglasses (and my brother’s iPhone) before heading out. That was the craziest five minutes of my life that I’m still trying to process.
16. A Pretty Creative Problem-Solving For A Bee Hive
Beekeepers see a lot of strange insect behavior. The weirdest by far was one of my hives taking care of an ant infestation. Every time I opened this hive, ants would flee. They were living on the outer cover, the lid of the hive.
So, one day I walked past and saw my bees corraling a spider into the top of the hive. There was an opening there for them. About a week later, I opened the hive up to see no more ants and a fat but scared-looking spider. It booked it out of there once I gave it an opening. I never had an ant problem in that hive again.
15. A Netflix Buddy
I had a chihuahua/terrier mix when I lived alone. I often ate dinner after work while watching TV on my couch with him, and I usually fed him when I ate. He eventually started to pick up food from his bowl, hold it in his mouth, carry it over, parkour onto the couch, then sit down and eat his food while facing the TV with me.
I’m pretty sure he didn’t understand what the TV was, but he sat there and pretended to watch Netflix with me because he liked being included. Occasionally he’d look over at me to make sure I was still there, and sometimes it almost looked like he was surprised by the plot twist on our TV show, or he wanted to see if I was as shocked at the TideToGo commercial as he was.
14. Big Guy’s Success
Several years ago, I had a cat named Big Guy (he’s since gone to kitty heaven after living a full kitty life). We also had a cat named Skitty. My husband bought a 3-piece meal from KFC. He sat at his desk, while Big Guy and Skitty sat side by side a couple of feet away watching him intently. He ate a piece, then got up to get a drink. It was just a brief amount of time, but when he came back, he only had one piece of chicken left. The mind-blowing part is that both cats were sitting next to each other, in the same position they were in when he got up.
A bit later, I saw some movement behind the living room drapes. It was Big Guy, chowing down on the stolen piece of chicken. This cat snagged a piece, hid it for later, then rejoined the ever clueless Skitty to look innocent. He had pretty much finished it by the time I noticed him, so he was well rewarded for his cunning. I still remind my husband that Big Guy successfully outwitted him. I really miss both of those cats.
13. I See What You Did There
My previous roommate had a mischievous Doberman (call him D) who was HATED by my German Shepherd (GS). D would frequently take my roommate’s shoes and chew them on his bed for which he would get punished by my roommate. Sitting in my room one day, I notice my dog peeking into my roommate’s room where the D is sleeping on the bed.
After about a minute, GS goes downstairs and comes back with my roommate’s shoe in his mouth. Looking around to make sure my roommate is not around, he quietly goes into my roommate’s room and carefully places the shoe next to D’s face (who is still asleep) and then goes into my room as if nothing happened. My roommate comes back and nearly goes crazy on D for an apparent attempt to chew his shoes… I stopped him and told him the whole story.
12. The Cat And Magpie Game
I was watching a pair of magpies and my neighbor’s cat interact in my garden last week. One magpie was in front of the cat pecking at the grass and one was behind doing the same.
Every so often after the cat’s attention was on the one in front, the one behind would nip at the cat’s tail and jump away, and then feign pecking at the grass again. They kept this up for over half an hour. The cat got fed up and wandered off. It didn’t even try to catch them.
11. Who Fooled Who?
In southern Florida, I was catching a bunch of crabs and putting them in a five-gallon bucket. A raccoon walked up and stuck his right paw straight in the bucket. I was watching, waiting for him to get pinched. I thought it would be hilarious.
He did get pinched and proceeded to lift my crab out of the bucket and slam him on the concrete, cracking the shell. The little dude then ran away with my big blue crab. He went fishing with his own hand. He came back a few minutes later with his “team,” but I wasn’t allowing that business twice.
10. Problem Not Solved
Momo the golden retriever is a rescue from a puppy mill. She had no idea how to be a dog when we got her. At age 3, she still did not know any commands, and she was not house trained. She decided that the living room carpet was the best place to pee. So we used a baby gate to lock her and the other dog in the kitchen.
Momo’s only option when she had to pee was to go outside…or so we thought. The baby gate in question was pressure mounted; screws controlled the tension. Momo unscrewed the damn thing so the bottom would swing free like a dog door, pushed her way through, then peed on the living room carpet.
9. A Tech-Savvy Doggo
After I had major surgery last year, I had to sleep on the living room couch/recliner for two weeks in order to stay somewhat upright. We have a motion sensor nightlight at the bottom of the stairs, and when it’s the only thing on, it casts a bit of light into the living room.
One of my dogs, not typically known for being a genius, decided that she had to sleep on the couch with me while I was recovering. She figured out that she could walk over to the nightlight to see and be able to jump on the couch with me after the other lights were off. This would not have impressed me had it happened once. It’s the fact that she did it every night, and sometimes returned to the nightlight to trigger it if she didn’t jump onto the couch fast enough after the first time.
8. They Paid For It
There was a study on Guereza Colobus monkeys which shows that the monkeys created a “mutual exchange” ring complete with a rudimentary financial system. For example, a male will present a female with fruits which are hard to get and the female will let the male bed her. The length of the act also seems to depend on the quality of the fruits.
In this system, there are also monkey “procurers” who will intervene if the act seems to take too long and pull the male monkey away from the female. The monkey procurer then does this gesture with his hands like a basketball referee, signaling a canceled score. Some male monkeys protest this by waving the fruits at the monkey procurer, which seems to indicate the monkey is saying that they paid good fruit for the experience. The other monkey usually doesn’t care and sends them away.
7. Raccoon’s Reverse Psychology
A raccoon used psychological warfare against me and almost won. A raccoon found its way into my pool somehow. There were no tears in the screening or anything, so I have no idea how he got there. But when I went outside to kick him out, I opened the screen door to the outside and told him to go away, and he just stared at me. He was not fearful or aggressive, just… disappointed?
I finally got a broom and sort of scooped him towards the door. About halfway there, he stopped for a moment and glanced over his shoulder at me, like maybe I’d have a change of heart, before he finally left. Then I started questioning myself. Should I have let him stay? He wasn’t hurting anyone. And he looked so sad!
6. What Are You Doing There?
So everyone was in bed and I woke up to some weird noise. I went into the lounge where the computer was and saw my cat sitting on the computer chair, with the computer and printer on, just printing paper away.
I walked up to her and I swear she freaked out and ran off like I caught her watching compromising videos. Also, no one else was up so I don’t know how it happened.
5. Dog 1, Human 0
My wiener dog knew how to defeat the invisible fence. She would stand where the first warning beep was then waited for the battery to turn off inside the collar.
She figured it out by accident while waiting for a neighbor dog, but after two or three times replacing the battery, she figured it out, and you could regularly see her just sitting by the warning beep.
4. Wake Up, Hooman!
During my teenage years when my dog would sleep in my room, she would try to wake me up by crying at the door so I would let her out.
When that didn’t work because I was a teenager and loved sleeping in more than anything, she would walk under my bed (it was about a foot and a half off the ground) and arch her back to push up my mattress to make me get up. I always rewarded her and let her out immediately because it was so smart.
3. Small Dogs Can Be Smart Too
My sister accidentally left my six-pound Min Pin out overnight in a really bad snowstorm. The dog figured out where dry leaves and sticks were, and built a shelter directly underneath the window of my bedroom and yelped periodically throughout the night.
I heard her at about 6 a.m., and she was left out at about 10 p.m. This fort/igloo she built was significantly more complex and organized than anything I personally would have built for shelter; it was pitch black. I’m taking heavy snow and ice. I have never looked at small dogs the same since finding her that morning.
2. Problem-Solving Like A Pro
A coworker of mine had a pet pig that was scarily smart. Two things I know about this pig: he was extremely food-motivated and terrified of non-carpeted surfaces. We decided to tease the pig by putting some apple slices in the middle of the dining room floor, which was hardwood.
He stood on the threshold of the carpet and wood, grunting excitedly, sniffing at the apples, but too scared of the slippery surface to go get them. Then he had an epiphany and disappeared for a second, came back with a blanket from his bed, and built himself a blanket bridge to the apples. I now have a healthy fear of pigs. I don’t much care for problem-solving creatures.
1. The Mystery Has Been Solved
I used to find mice in my dog’s water bowl. I couldn’t figure out why these mice kept drowning themselves. Then, one day, I was watching my dog stalking a mouse on the back porch.
She caught it in her teeth, brought it to the water bowl, and held it underwater with her teeth until it drowned. Then she walked away like it was nothing. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.pey