Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats, Study Says

Who's Smarter, Dogs or Cats? Science Now Has the Answer

It's been a great debate for years, but a new study by Vanderbilt University showed dogs are smarter than cats.

Dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons while cats have about 250 million.

However, there may have been a point in time when cats were smarter than dogs.

These cortical neurons in their cerebral cortex are also called "little gray cells" and are associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviour - all considered hallmarks of intelligence.

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Herculano-Houzel stated it's her belief that the number of neurons an animal has, particularly those housed within the cerebral cortex, speaks to the richness of their "internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience".

In order to reach the findings, the researchers - Suzana Herculano-Houzel, an associate professor of psychology and biological sciences at Vanderbilt University and her team - evaluated the neuronal density and brain sizes of various carnivorans, a class of mammals that includes many predators - along with some omnivores and and a few herbivores.

For example, the brain of a golden retriever has more neurons than a hyena, lion or brown bear, even though those animals have brains up to three times as large. However, the researchers also discovered that brown bears had almost as many neurons as cats, despite being significantly bigger in size in comparison.

The researchers also learned that the domesticated animals in the test group (dogs, cats, ferrets) have similar brain to body weight ratios as the wild animals in the group. Since the scientists believe the number of these neurons helps to determine cognitive capabilities, that means Fido might be brighter than Fluffy.

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"Raccoons are not your typical carnivoran", said Herculano-Houzel.

"One reason why dogs may have more neurons in their brains than cats may be because they are social animals", she said.

According to the neuroscientist, studying the brains of different species teaches an important lesson: "Diversity is enormous".

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