It’s a debate pet owners have been raging about for years. Are cats smarter than dogs, or is it the other way around? While the debate has likely riled up some arguments among friends and family members, a group of scientists have put together some evidence to answer the question once and for all.
As part of a study put together by a group of international scientists, researchers analyzed the brains of different animals, including cats and dogs, to see which animals had the highest number of neurons in their cerebral cortex. The reason being that the amount of neurons can correspond with “goal setting and planning.”
The result? Sorry, cat owners, but the study posits that dogs are smarter than cats because dogs have “about 530 million cortical neurons,” while cats have “about 250 million.”
“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,” said Suzana Herculano-Houzel, associate professor of psychology and biological sciences at Vanderbilt University who worked on the study. “Our findings mean to me that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can. At the least, we now have some biology that people can factor into their discussions about who’s smarter, cats or dogs.”
The study also looked at the brains of other meat-eating species, including hyenas, lions, brown bears, mongooses, raccoons, and ferrets.
The report was published on the Frontiers in Neuroanatomy site, and broke down how the researchers analyzed the brains of the animals. From the data, the scientists were able to “predict that, with their larger numbers of neurons in the cerebral cortex, dogs of the sizes examined here should have more complex and flexible cognition than cats.”
If you want more details or arguments to throw at your cat-owning friends, check out the full study here.