Science Says Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
New research is out and sheds some light on the age-old debate of who’s smarter? Cats or dogs? Spoiler: Dogs are the brainiest!

Researchers from Vanderbilt University developed a method to count neurons in the brains of animals, and have decided that because a dog has a larger absolute number of neurons than a cat does, particularly in the cerebral cortex, it is the smarter of the two animals.

The research was internationally supported, as team members from other countries collaborated with Suzana Herculano-Houzel and her team. Herculano-Houzel is an associate professor of psychology and biological sciences at Vanderbilt University.

Related: The Effect on the Environment of Feeding Cats and Dogs

The team worked at zoos and universities of the world, and looked at the number of cortical neurons in eight carnivorans. Carnivorans are a large class of mammals that have teeth and claws, and who are able to eat other animals–which differs from other carnivores which is a larger class that includes all meat-eating animals like seals, bears and raccoons.

They discovered that while cats have about 250 million cortical neurons, dogs have over twice that many at 530 million. Cortical neurons are cells that are linked to planning, thinking and more complex behaviors. The teams looked at brain size in comparison to the number of neurons and found that dogs have even more ‘brain power’ than carnivorans who have much larger brains–animals like African lions and brown bears.

They believe this is because large carnivorans may have to trade-off between body size and the number of cortical neurons to survive due to metabolic constraints. They found that raccoons seem to have about the same number of cortical neurons that dogs do, but their brain is smaller, more the size of a cat’s.

Related: Why Do Cats and Dogs Drink Water So Differently, Anyway?

According to Herculan0o-Houzel, dogs simply have a better biological capability to do more complex and flexible things than a cat can.

Wonder what Grumpy Cat would think about that?

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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