It’s a well-known fact that pet owners generally have strong opinions regarding which species they think is not only smarter, but also cuter, friendlier, and overall “better” – and most of these are not derived from facts, but primarily based on what they feel about their own canine or feline companion.
However, science attempted to find out and contribute to the dogs vs. cats debate – and based on what your stand is, you might not appreciate it.
From a strictly anatomical perspective, cats are smarter than dogs, as suggested by a 2017 study publish in Frontiers in Neuroanatomy. Researchers at Vanderbilt University performed studies on brains of several carnivores. They learned that although dogs have larger brains than cats, the feline brains appear to be able to perform more efficiently.
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So, what does that mean? Well, as revealed by the study, felines have close to 530 million cortical neurons, which are found in the cerebral cortex and perform the functions such as planning, thinking, and other “intelligent” behavior. Dogs, on the other hand, have about 250 million.
Nevertheless, this is not an open and shut case. During a PBS interview, Brian Hare, founder and director of Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center, cautions that comparison of intelligence of dogs and cats is “like asking if a hammer is a better than a screwdriver. Each tool is designed for a specific problem, so of course it depends on the problem we are trying to solve.”
Ultimately, both species are intelligent in their own ways. Thinking intelligence as a spectrum, and both species are excellent in their own way.