Who is smarter? Cats vs. dogs

Who is smarter? Cats vs. dogs

Many pet owners treat their beloved, furry friends as if they were their own child – and who can blame them? Our pets are extremely precious to us and when we watch our kitty or pup do something we deem ‘clever,’ we can’t help but burst with pride!

If you’re thinking about giving a cat a furever home, then you’ll want to take out pet insurance. Pet insurance means that if your kitty is injured or gets ill, you won’t have unexpected vet bills adding to your worries. Meaning, you’ll be able to focus on what’s more important: nursing your cat back to full health.

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A line up of cats and dogs of varying breeds and sizes

How smart is your pet?

There’s always been a ‘cats vs. dogs’ debate, with many people proclaiming that they’re either a cat or a dog person.

But which animal is smarter, cats or dogs? Both can do some pretty smart stuff. Dogs are known to be more sociable and trainable, answering and responding to their owners’ commands. But then again, cats are more independent and able to fend for themselves, which should definitely be seen as an indicator of their intelligence.

Cats and dogs both have ‘clever’ traits, but which animal takes the trophy?


Study reveals dogs are brainier than cats

Vanderbilt University sought to get to the bottom of the ‘who is smarter?’ debate, when it conducted the first study looking into the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex of their brains. What are they? Well, they’re the little grey cells in our brains associated with planning, thinking and complex behaviour – all of which are considered to be indicators of intelligence.

The study’s researchers uncovered that dogs have significantly more of these cortical neurons than cats. More specifically, dogs have around 530 million cortical neurons, whereas cats have around 260 million. To compare, the average human brain has around 16 billion.

Dog and cat laying on grass with legs in the air together ans sun shining brightly on them

Commenting on the findings, associate professor of psychology and biological sciences Suzana Herculano-Houzel, who created the method for accurately measuring the number of neurons said:

“I believe the absolute number of neurons an animal has, especially in the cerebral cortex, determines the richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience.”

Suzana added that report shows that dogs have the biological capability of doing more complex and flexible things than their furry counterparts.

Counteracting this argument slightly, National Geographic cites scientist Sarah Benson-Amram from the University of Wyoming’s Animals Behaviour and Cognition lab as saying that while she and her colleagues have found some evidence to support the fact that bigger brains mean better problem solving in carnivorous animals, there’s little proof that bigger brains mean higher intelligence.

And then there’s the claim from University of Exeter researchers, who reviewed over 300 papers on animal brain power, that dogs are no more intelligent than sheep, goats or pigeons. The researchers also said that cats are just as capable as dogs at identifying humans by their voices.


Measuring intelligence

The Vanderbilt University study suggests that dogs have a larger mental capacity that cats, but there’s more to it than that. Purina argues that deciding on which animal is smartest depends on how you measure intelligence.

It explains how dogs are usually considered to be smarter because they’re more trainable, as a result of being domesticated for a far longer period of time than cats. But this is only one way to measure intelligence – and cats could be considered clever due to their independence and unwillingness to follow humans and participate in studies.

Unlike dogs, cats refuse to take part in meaningless activities just to please their owners. And while some people may think that their cat ignores them because they don’t understand them, it’s more likely the case that they simply don’t feel the need to acknowledge your presence as much as a dog would.

To quote literature professor Mary Bly: “Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you.”

A group of dogs and cats standing together

What cats and dogs are good at

Naturally, cats are better than dogs at certain activities, and vice versa. A 2009 study shared by Purina found that cats weren’t as competent as dogs, or even fish, at counting or identifying quantities of things.

But then another study discovered that cats are able to follow puzzles and are more likely to keep persisting until they've worked it out. Dogs, on the other hand, were more likely to give up and seek help from their owners.


The verdict

As you’ve probably guessed, even with these studies there’s no definite answer as to whether cats or dogs are more intelligent. It may be due to cats’ unwillingness to take part in these studies that there’s no conclusive answer on which animal is the smartest!

Ultimately, dogs and cats are clever in their own, individual ways. You probably couldn’t teach a cat to ‘sit’ or ‘stay,’ but then again, it’s unlikely you’d see a dog walking along the top of a fence with the competence and prowess of a puss!

And let’s not forget, there are certain cat and dog breeds known for their intelligence. Among the smart dog breeds are border collies, golden retrievers and German shepherds, while clever kitty breeds include Siamese, Burmese and Abyssinian cats.


Compare cat insurance with Go Get It

We’re sure you’ll agree that a pet needn’t be smart to be loveable! And in fact, it’s those clumsy moments that make us love our cats and dogs even more.

What’s important is that you take out cover just in case one of those clumsy moments leads to a trip to the vets. Let Go Get It compare cat insurance for your puss and finds you a policy that suits your needs and budget. Get a quote today!

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