Are Dogs Smarter Than Cats?

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Dog lovers and cat lovers may never stop arguing over the relative merits of their respective favorite pets, and one of the most hotly contested questions continues to be the debate over who's smarter: dogs or cats?

A recent Wall Street Journal essay has dredged up the old argument once again. The essay decidedly favors dogs when it comes to comparing their intelligence to cats, and canines seem to have science backing up their argument.



Traditionally, the cat's curiosity and sly independence have been considered by many to indicate a superior intelligence. Their apparent lack of great need for attention or approval makes them appear able to live life quite well mostly on their own, and therefore they may seem smarter than dogs. After all, cats don't need their owners to usher them outside just to be able to use the "bathroom," unlike dogs.

But the WSJ argues that science has shown on numerous occasions all the ways that dog brains beat out cat brains. A 2004 University of Portsmouth study showed the ability of dogs to use reason, understanding of human language and process of elimination to make decisions in a way that far outstripped almost all other animals, let alone cats. Other studies in recent years, at the University of Moncton in Canada and the University of Hungary, observed dogs' superior memory, and their ability to copy human problem-solving techniques in certain situations.

As for a cat's independence, a 2010 Oxford University study showed that it's precisely the cat's independent nature that holds it back intellectually, reports OpposingViews.com. The study found that social animals evolve bigger brains, and evolve them at a faster rate, than less social animals. Dogs, being among nature's most social animals, and bred over time to be "man's best friend," have larger brains than cats, and therefore, a capacity for superior intelligence.

It may be true that cats are generally more solitary, lower-maintenance and all-around easier to care for than dogs, but that could be the very reason they lose the debate over intelligence versus dogs. Maybe if cats would deign to socialize with their owners a little more often, they'd gain some brain power.

What do you think? Do you agree that your dogs are smarter than your cats, or do you still think those crafty cats are just tricking scientists into thinking dogs are smarter?

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