December 26, 2021
Are Dogs Smarter Than Cats?

The age-old dogs versus cats rivalry have divided the people into two major groups. The dog people and the cat people. Dog owners believe that their fido is better than cats, while cat owners believe that their felis has an upper hand. There is a constant comparison between the two. Related to it, there raises another question. Are dogs smarter than cats? Well, that's a
million-dollar question, isn't it?

However, after some research and by analyzing what various scientists believe, we can say that dogs have comparatively more brain cells than cats. This certainly indicates that dogs are smarter than cats. But is it really the case? Let's find out!

Dogs Have More Neurons

Dogs, as we mentioned before as well, have more neurons in their cerebral cortexes in contrast to cats. This clearly suggests that they are more intelligent than cats. This was researched by an entire team of scientists who belonged from 6 different universities in Brazil, South Africa, Denmark, and the United States. In fact, this finding will be published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy as well.

One of the authors of the study is known as Suzana Herculano-Houzel who is a neurologist. She is an expert and has a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding the cognitive function in animals and humans as she has been studying it for the past more than 10 years. What she does is that she first liquifies the brains of animals and then counts the number of neurons
present there. Scientists are able to estimate the number of neurons by analyzing the nuclei from neuron cells.

So, a similar process was followed when she aimed to count the number of neurons present in the brain of a dog in comparison to cats. As per her research, dogs had more neurons. You must be wondering what exactly neurons are and why they are used in order to measure intelligence.

What Are Neurons & Why Use Them?

You must be wondering what exactly neurons are and why they are used in order to measure intelligence. Well, as per Herculano-Houzel, neurons basically are the fundamental information processing units. The number of units in the brain determines how cognitively capable an animal would be. For instance, an animal has more units. In that case, that animal would be
considered to be having more cognitive capability.

The whole process does not involve the entire brain, but only a certain part known as the cerebral cortex. It basically helps in putting stimuli such as touch and sight together for the purpose of various functions which may include problem-solving and decision making. According to Herculano-Houzel, "The cortex is the part of the brain that gives complexity and
flexibility." Now that we know what neurons are, let's find out how scientists determined the number of neurons in dogs and cats.

Counting The Neurons in Dogs & Cats

For the purpose of determining the number of neutrons in cats and dogs, the team of scientists made use of 3 brains. These were the brains of a mixed breed small dog, a golden retriever, and of a cat. The reason why the team made use of two dogs' brains is because they vary a lot in terms of size.

With that being said, even though the size of their brain was significantly different, the researchers found out that both the dogs' brains had around the same number of neurons. These were approximately 500 million neurons. On the other hand, a cat's brain was found to be having around 250 million neurons.

Comparison With Other Animals & Human Beings

On the basis of their research and the number of neurons that they found, the researchers compared the intelligence of dogs with other various animals. According to them, the intelligence of a dog is somewhat similar to that of lions and raccoons. In contrast to this, the researchers also determined that cats have a level of intelligence that is almost equal to the intelligence of bears.

If we talk about humans, we have around 16 billion neurons in our cerebral cortexes. It is by far the highest among all. Next to us are gorillas and orangutans. They have almost around 8-9 billion neurons. Isn't that interesting?

So Does This Mean Dogs Are More Intelligent Than Cats?

Well, one thing is for sure. The scientists with the help of their research and studies have almost put an end to this never-ending debate of who is smarter, dogs or cats. With that being said, it is still not considered final and is deemed as just one of the factors.

In order to say that dogs are smarter than cats, we need to first accept that neurons are the quantifiable measure of intelligence. For your information, previously there have been various disagreements with regards to measuring structural complexity and brain size for the purpose
of quantifying intelligence.

One of the scientists that disagrees and opposes the concept of brain size connection with intelligence is Sarah Benson-Amram. She is a scientist at the University of Wyoming's Animal Behavior and Cognition lab. According to her research along with her colleagues, she has discovered that the size of the brain can certainly impact the problem-solving ability of carnivorous animals. However, as per her research, the size of the brain, whether small or large, does not have much impact on the level of intelligence.

Sarah Benson-Amram believes that this concept still needs a lot of research and study as we do not have enough pieces of evidence to prove how brain size influences intelligence and can be used as a measure of intelligence throughout various groups of animals.

Responding to this, Herculano-Houzel has argued and has put forward her point that the number of neurons is the most effective and best way to quantify intelligence. So if we take into account what Sarah Benson-Amram believes, the question about who is smarter, dogs or cats still
remains unsolved and we are back to square one.

What Do Other Studies Suggest?

As we have mentioned before as well, the dog versus cat rivalry has been going on for a very long period of time. In the past, various different studies and experiments have been carried out in order to determine the level of intelligence of both of these animals.

One of the studies was carried out in the year 2006. It took place at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary. The study showed that in order to get the puzzle right, the dogs sought assistance from their owners. However, on the other hand, cats were seen following the puzzle
and getting it right without any help or assistance. This indicates that cats are relatively smarter than dogs.

In contrast to this, another study at Oxford University in the U.K has shown that dogs are more intelligent and smart because of their sociability. According to Purina, a food company, the reason why cats are not very intelligent is that, unlike dogs, they have not been domesticated for a longer period of time.

If we look at another study, as per the New York Times, an experiment was carried out in the 19th century by the Belgian Society, which was formed for the Elevation of the Domestic Cat, in order to check whether the cats can be used to deliver messages between different towns or not. Well, to your surprise, all 37 cats who were part of this experiment returned back within one day. In fact, the cat which was declared the fastest made it to its destination in approximately 5 hours! This clearly indicates that we can not underestimate cats as far as intelligence is concerned.

Final Thoughts

Well, despite various studies, we will still stick with the notion that the number of neurons helps in determining the level of intelligence in an animal. Neurons are present in the main part of the brain and that part ultimately influences other functions. Therefore, taking into consideration
this concept, dogs certainly are smarter than cats.

With that being said, the arguments against this concept are also very much valid and should be considered. For instance, this experiment was carried out on the brains of dead animals. In order to get the right and more precise information, it is essential to test the intelligence of living
cats and dogs.

Still, more research should take place in this regard which will further help us determine whether dogs or cats are more intelligent and smart. Other factors like the behavior of both the animals should also be observed as this would further clarify the confusion. In the end, we would only
say that whatever the level of intelligence and whosoever is smarter, both the dogs as well as the cats should be given equal amounts of love. They should be taken care of in the best manner possible. For dog people, it would always be a dog and for cat people, it would always be a cat.

If you like to read more on dogs and other interesting topics related to dogs, make sure to explore our other articles. Until next time!

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