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Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats, Says Study

Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats, Says Study

Researchers at Oxford University have conducted a study of mammal brain sizes and concluded dogs are smarter than cats because of their relative increase in brain size over the last 60 million years. They said dog brains grew more due to the demands of constant social interaction, whereas cat brains stayed about the same size due to being more solitary creatures.

Last year a study came to the same conclusion regarding dog intelligence, based on tests involving dogs and cats pulling strings to get rewards. The cats didn’t do well at all. We probably have all heard people tell humorous stories of cats completely ignoring humans, and shunning interaction with humans, so why would a research study assume they would be suddenly fully engaged by a test set up by scientists at a particular time and place?

Dogs, on the other hand, appear to be generally very interested in social interaction, playing with balls, playing/wrestling with each other, and so forth. If you don’t believe me, visit a dog park on any day and you will see a high level of social engagement, but is there such thing as a cat park? Perhaps one could say dogs are more task-oriented and since they are descended from wolves, which are very socially-oriented animals living in packs with complex interaction, a test set up by human masters involving simple tasks and rewards is nearly designed for them to excel on. Which is to say humans, being social creatures, made a research test biased towards other social creatures, dogs in this case. A test using sweet foods as rewards would not be indicative of cat intelligence because cats don’t taste sweetness due to their taste buds being different.

For this year’s study, the focus on physical brain measurements depends upon the assumption that an increase in brain size on a evolutionary time scale indicates dogs are smarter than cats. However, there is another assumption involved — that dogs and cats started off with equal intelligence, and dogs increased. Even if dogs and cats millions of years ago had the same size brains, that does mean they were of equal intelligence. It’s possible cats were smarter then, and still smarter now, but have smaller, more efficient brains. What is more likely given that evolution seems to reward creatures with adaptability and diverse skill sets, is that dog and cat intelligences are different, and comparing them is much more complex than simply measuring physical brain size.

Next year will researchers tackle the issue of whether humans are smarter than dogs and cats?

Image Credit: Tim Vickers

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279 comments

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5:23PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

This is BS.

5:19PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

what a waste of resources

4:01AM PST on Nov 26, 2012

Cats are intuitive, they are clever, case in point, our Rescue Mother had Kittens, our desexed other Female took over the care of the Kittens, as the tired Mother Cat was ready to feed, her Kittens.
My Cat would pick up the Kittens, one by one, holding them like a Mother cat should.
One day a Kitten was missing we looked everywhere, for ages, My Cat looked under the Fridge, kept coming back to me meowing , going back to the Fridge, and I went over I couldn't see a thing, eventually She somehow got under the Fridge on her belly , how she did
that I have no idea, with the tiny Kitten in her mouth, and took the little one over to her Mum.
I know they can hear better then us, but to persevere and tried to tell me, that another life,is in
danger is amazing.
Dogs are just as smart , Humans aren't the only intelligent Being on this Planet.

12:56AM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

Interesting article and comments, thank you.

12:56AM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

Interesting article and comments, thank you.

10:44AM PDT on Aug 9, 2012

My cat is evidence that this research is bias. She talks to me all the time and understands everything I say to her. She brings me a small spongy ball when I ask her too and when I throw it she dashes and catches it and brings it back. She brings stray cats home from outside and seems to be very friendly with at least four cats living around our house. She loves her treats and knows that when she comes in in the morning or when I come home from work she will get some and jumps on the table waiting. If we don't give her her treat, forget or something, she gives our legs a swat. She loves water and gets into the shower with me and drinks from the tap. Very very smart. Cats are independent creatures that do what they want not what you want! So dogs seem smarter. They will eat till they swell up and become sick. Cats eat only what they need and leave the rest. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs...

1:36PM PDT on Aug 8, 2012

ok, a cat digs a hole to toilet,.....a dog gets you to pick up its mess,....10/10 for the cat,.....you throw a dog a stick, ....you end up picking up the stick,.........conclusion,.. DOGS ARE THICK,.

10:14AM PDT on Aug 8, 2012

Ok want to really know which one is smarter? Abandoned cat or abandoned dog which is going to live longer? Abandoned cats can go feral and live several years. The dog isn't going to make it through the winter. So there you go cat smarter. Cats were worshiped as deity in ancient Egypt. Cats are smart enough to be potty trained. You have to walk dogs.

7:02AM PDT on Aug 8, 2012

The hell with Oxford. Cats don't believe in standardized testing! They never will comply.I know how smart they are and that's enough for me. Cat's do not fit into anyone's mold .

8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

There are studies which often contradict the other but researchers need topics to spend the research grants doled out. Comparing cats and dogs is often a passionate pastime but it is simply that. Both species have their delightful and fascinating qualities. The cat that owns me is a blind sixteen year old that rules the roost with a velvet paw and sets the agenda unlike the Border Collies, Gordon Setters and the Large Munsterlander that have been in my life.

Klaus states that cats are selfish killing machines destroying wildlife, possessing no affection. Obviously he hasn't had a cat as a companion. Cats are obligate carnivores, designed by Nature to be meat eaters, their role in Nature. Humans are not obligate carnivores but do far more killing than any species on the planet.

Some cat/dog aficionados cite horror stories about the other species but all this is redundant as they believe that only their experiences in life give them insight into the "true" character(istics) of an animal.

Sonny, I agree with Diane about dogs crossing the road. Many dogs also get hit by vehicles and I have to swerve a bit to avoid one dog blindly rushing across a highway. Since there were no other vehicles on the road at the time I had the option of doing this safely.

Studies can reflect many things and the human debating society goes on endlessly.

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