Cats vs. Dogs: Who’s Smarter?

Cats vs. Dogs: Who’s Smarter?

It’s always difficult to determine intelligence when communication isn’t a factor. Since we can’t talk to dogs and cats yet, and they can’t tell us what they’re thinking, we have to figure it out more scientifically. When it comes to cats and dogs, most people assume dogs are smarter, given the larger sizes of their brains and ability to recognize words and obey commands. It is true that because of the evolutionarily unchanged size of the cat brain a canine brain has more capacity. However, studies have shown that cats do excel in certain areas of cognition, and that intellect between the species is not so imbalanced. 

Unlike dogs, cats are loners. They are highly independent and can, therefore, take care of themselves much more efficiently than dogs can. Dogs are inherently packed animals and look to others for survival. Cats can hunt, shelter themselves, and survive more easily in various conditions. Dogs tend to excel in social skills, therefore making them much more dependent on those around them. It would be a lot more difficult for a dog to survive in the wilderness than it would be for a cat.

Despite the fierce survival instincts possessed by cats, dogs do outperform cats in animal IQ tests. They also have larger vocabularies and brain capacity, although cats excel in regards to information processing. For example, studies have shown that dogs and cats will follow the same basic algorithms to get food from humans, though dogs will give up after the first try and look to humans more quickly than cats will. Cats will try alternative methods and determine the most effective course of action, suggesting higher levels of intelligence that might be expected. 

Although dogs are more easily trained, cats can, in fact, be taught certain tricks and commands. Cats tend to be independent thinkers, however: they understand what you’re saying, they’re just choosing not to listen. This suggests a presence of mind and a level of decision making and forethought not so evident in the actions of dogs. Dogs are easy to train and are highly empathetic with human beings: they can be service animals, seeing-eye dogs, work on rescue and K9 units, and sniff out bombs. Both cats and dogs are clearly very bright animals; they simply choose to use their powers of intelligence for different reasons.