Helen, I'm going to take issue with a couple of your points. humans are uniquely able to alter there perceptions and to value different thing in different environments.
I don't agree with the "unique" part: our cat's behavior changed drastically when we got our current dog, who seems to consider it her goal in life to personally exterminate all other fur-bearing creatures, and those with feathers if she can. (We came home to a dead chipmunk yesterday, WAIL!) The cat's environment had suddenly become deadly, and she responded by 1.) severely curtailing her excursions into certain parts of the house; 2.) being on high alert when she did venture out of her safe zone, and 3.) by learning to listen for when the dog goes outside--within seconds, usually, she's nudging around my ankles. She has changed again in recent months; we had suce a warm winter (
) that the dog spent most days outside; and the cat has responded by roaming all over the house.
Second: being able to hear and distingish the important sound in the enviroment we live in is a measure of intellect.
I can't put my finger on why, but this just doesn't sound right. To me this would come more under survival skills than intellect.