Holy Moly. Are Dogs Smarter Than Cats? Studies Point to Yes

Posted by Amber King
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Whether cats are your pet of choice or you're more of a dog person, science finally has unbiased evidence about which species is smarter.

While cats and dogs rank among the most popular pets in the world, there has always been a battle between cat lovers and dog people about which pet is better. In the end, it all comes down to a person's lifestyle and personal preference, but the battle of the brains is less subjective.

Dr. Suzana Herculano-Houzel, a neuroscientist associate professor at Vanderbilt University, says she's "100 percent a dog person," but she didn't let that bias skew the results as she worked with other researchers to find scientific evidence that dogs are smarter than cats.

brown dog and black cat

Dr. Herculano-Houzel published a new study in journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy that focused on identifying cortical neurons associated with intelligence in the brains of several carnivorous mammals. The scientists developed a method of counting neurons, and they compared the numbers with the average size of the animal's brain.


The hypothesis was that carnivorous animals are smarter than plant-eaters because hunting requires more thought than grazing. Dr. Herculano-Houzel speculated that large dogs are smarter and have more neurons than cats. Her presumption was proven correct after the study, but it was determined brain size has little to do with intelligence.

seeing eye dogIn the study, it was concluded the average cat has around 250 million cortical neurons in their brain. Dogs have over double that number with 530 million. (Human brains contain 16 billion, if you were wondering.) These essential brain cells play a role in a being's ability to solve problems, plan, and control complex behavior.

Dr. Herculano-Houzel said;

"How many neurons you have in your cerebral cortex, I believe, is a major determinant of your biological capabilities."

Dogs are capable of learning obedience and tricks, solving problems, and can do "much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can," according to the scientists. It was determined cats have about the same number of neurons as brown bears. This discovery negated the theory that intelligence is directly related to brain size. A brown bear's brain is roughly 10 times the size of a domesticated cat's, yet the study shows they have similar intellectual capabilities. 

Beautiful tricolor catKnowing who's smarter won't change the minds of people who choose cats over dogs. Cats can also be trained, and overall intelligence seems to be linked toward the individual as well as the species in general. The evidence is good news for dog people, but don't be too quick to underrate the prowess of a smart feline.

Do you think dogs are smarter than cats? Are you a dog owner or a cat owner or both? Let us know in the comments.

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Holy Moly. Are Dogs Smarter Than Cats? Studies Point to Yes