One of the age old questions that has mystified human kind for thousands of years is this: are dogs better than cats? While there has been plenty of anecdotal evidence from pet owners about how wonderful their particular animal is, it generally comes down to whether someone is a cat or a dog person. Yet, the differences between cats and dogs suggests that they possess different forms of intelligence. Just observing them as pets seems to show that dogs are social but more dependent on their masters, while cats are individuals that prefer to keep to themselves.
Fortunately, this mystery has also puzzled scientists and they have put the dogs vs. cats question to the test. Through a variety of different experiments, researchers have been able to conclude not only which animal is smarter, but also pinpoint some of the exact things that contribute to how intelligent they really are.
Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats
A study that was published in November 2017 has finally seemed to accurately answer the question of whether dogs are smarter than cats. The results found that dogs may have as many as twice the number of cortical neurons that cats have, giving them the potential to be twice as intelligent as their feline companions. This is because the neurons are what transfer signals between the brain. The more neurons available, the more cognitive ability a creature can have thanks to faster processing. With dogs of different breeds having an average of 500 million compared to the 250 million in cats, it seems almost certain that dogs are much more intelligent.
Cats Have Relatively Smaller Brains Than Dogs
Research has shown that dogs have much bigger brains relative to the size of their bodies than cats. While it might seem obvious that they would have larger brains than a cat due to their increased size, the truth is that the canine brain makes up a bigger percentage of the body than a feline equivalent. The general rule of thumb in the animal kingdom is that bigger brains, especially in terms of ratio between brain and body size, means that the creature will be more intelligent.
The Bigger Brains Of Dogs Compared To Cats is Likely Due To Their Increased Sociability
The bigger brains that dogs have are likely the result of two factors. They are far more social than cats and lived in large groups before being domesticated. This would have required a larger brain to allow for complex communication between individuals in a pack so that they could coordinate. Dogs were also selectively bred for their ability to be social animals, as humans wanted them to be able to perform jobs and interact with them. Meanwhile, cats are generally creatures that live on their own and weren’t domesticated to be used in the same way.
Cats Actually Have A Better Sense Of Smell Than Dogs
Despite the common notion that dogs have one of the best noses in the animal kingdoms, the truth is that cats have a better sense of smell. That isn’t to say that a dog does not have a very sophisticated system for sniffing out odors, but rather than cats are just slightly better. Findings from a study in 2016 revealed that cats are able to distinguish between a much wider range of different smells than dogs are. This is likely due to the fact that they have three times as many variants of the V1R protein that controls an animal’s ability to separate individual smells.