Are Cats Smarter than Dogs?

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL,  a seriously serious publication, reports that CATS have twice as many neurons in their cerebral cortex as dogs.


Does science come down on the side of CATS?

Maddi-Bell in Bathroom sink

Does sitting in the sink mean I’m smarter than the dog next door who rolls around in road-kill deer?


Is the cat who brings home a snake, smarter than a dog who wallows in dead meat?

Nosey Nell Brings Home a Garden Snake

Nosey Nell Brings Home a Garden Snake

Maybe not.  Scientists are busy the world over running rats and dogs through mazes to figure out how the critters think.  Rats think through the maze better than the dogs [per the WSJ article].  Of course, those of us with cats know how they think: “Where’s the food?”  What would a cat in a maze do?  My best guess is that the cat’s sensitive nose will tell it to place paws on the wall of the maze, hop up on the wall and then walk along the walls of the maze right to the food.

Dogs, on the other hand, figure out human intentions better than cats, for example,  when a human being points to something — the dog will go look to see what it is.  When I point — my cats just look at my hand — and nothing happens.

I find that my cats understand food best of all.

Maddie Bell [in the sink] and Nosey Nell [with the snake] understand that  I’m a pushover — because I give them kitty treats, on the kitty perch, when they come in the house.  Me?  I understand it this way, “… wasn’t it smart of me to train these rescue kittens to come in the house when I call because they will get a kitty treat in the special place for cats” i.e.,  the kitty perch [a cat tree from the pet store].

What my cats don’t seem to understand, is that the new kitten is OK.  My two yellow beasts had a hard time with the family newcomer: Tootsie.

Best version of tiny Tootsie

Tootsie at 5 weeks of age.

Tootsie grew up to be a nine-pound cat who bosses the others around, Maddie-Bell at 12-pounds will play with her for dominance of the kitty perch whereas Nell [10 pounds] just hisses and runs away.

Tootsie at 5 months full face

Tootsie at Five Months — sitting on the book shelf.

And when they are outside,  all three cats ignore the dogs being walked on leashes — even if the occasional dog gets excited enough to strain at the leash in an effort to smell the cats.

Who do you think is smarter?  Cats or dogs?  Why?


Thunder & Lightning Frightens Cats!

Gloriously it rained last night in Hays County — a downpour with lightning and thunder that had the cats hiding under the bed and water washing the dry Cedar tree needles out of the rain gutters.

The deer were moving around this morning.

Along with the rain we got a break from the heat so the 5 a.m. temps here in Hays County were registering around 68 degrees, the deer were moving around and the leaves on Live Oak trees, freshened, actually seemed to be reaching skyward.   Wha-hoo!

It will be hot and humid later in the day, the grass will need to be cut at the end of the week but for now, joy, oh joy, our chances for wildfire have been greatly reduced!

The blue spiked salvia perked up after the rain

The cats flew out the door this morning to go exploring the wet world before dawn!

Hot Texas Day & Nosey Cat

Summer heat descended savagely about three weeks ago.  We’ve had no rain.  A hot wind blows everywhere across Texas and we are all under a Burn Ban with Water Restrictions in place to slow the drain on our ground water.  Surface water in creeks and rivers dried up a while back.

Once, years ago, as I prepared to move, leaving the Lone Star state for Michigan, I paid attention to what the heat did to my body and found a new awareness of a thin moisture film covering my arms, legs, face — today there’s not even enough humidity in the air to keep me sweaty.  All is terribly dry.

Earlier, I got up from a cat nap in front of the TV, what else is there to do on a day with sun beating down and temps in the 100-degree-plus range, but stay in the air-conditioned house and run mindless TV shows?  I looked for the cats who loll around in shady spots on the front porch amid the pots of blue-spike Salvia — a deer resistant sage plant.  I pretend the sage will keep deer from making themselves comfortable on the porch and having lunch at the Poinsettia buffet — I’m propagating some beautiful plants for the Christmas season.  But, today the hearty blue sage, with its drought resistant blue flowers, is drooping and the leaves seem ready to fall off.  So much for outsmarting the deer.

But the bird bath needed water — it dries up every day now.  So I took the hose across the yard and filled it.  Then for fun I caught my shelter cat,  Maddie Bell, trailing after me and I grabbed a camera.  She was raising up on her hind feet to look at the fresh pool with its surface rippling in the wind.  She did something new — tested the water with her paw.  Who knew?  That delightful little girl kitty competes daily for my attention and keeps me far more entertained than any television show.

Filling the bird bath interrupted our cat naps today!

Bonding with and Training Kittens

We have all heard about the value of pets for heart health — lowering blood pressure — for example.   And I would expect to find such information on the WebMD site.  The truly surprising discovery was the presence of articles addressing the emotional and health needs of kittens and cats also on the WebMD site.  It was comforting to me to know that I had been doing some of the things recommended in an article on How To Bond With A Cat.

Patience with kittens pays off in the long run — insane amounts of patience will create a happy kitten and a calm household!

Nosey Nell with her feathers

A soft voice, positive attitude combined with play and appropriate cat furniture are also called for.

As young kittens, Maddie Bell and Nosey Nell would chase after feathers attached to a ‘fishing pole’ toy until they just lay in the floor and panted — they loved it and so did I.  When one of them actually captured the feathers, I let go of the pole and the little toot would raise her head, give out a warning kitten growl and haul the captured toy under the bed.  If I didn’t find the feathers and put them away, I would wake up at night with a kitten on my pillow, hauling the feathers, dragging the pole and wanting to play.

Play is an important part of bonding with young kittens.  Before too much time passes, they will begin exhibiting adult hunting behavior by sitting still and waiting for the feather to come close enough to grab.  But in the beginning it’s all a mad chase and tons of fun.

I highly recommend those fishing pole toys for creating a bonding experience with your kitten!

Training Cats & Kittens


Training with the Wisdom of the Dharma    ∞

A Growing Personality
in the Way of The Heart

“One is a growing personality one’s entire life, and therefore one should live in a culture of elders, a culture of wisdom, in which everybody is treated as a growing personality, one’s reactions are observed, and one is drawn out of them. When you notice that an individual has been startled and made reactive by something that may have intruded upon him or her, you must learn how to reattract the person – adult or child – physically, mentally, and emotionally into the relationtional environment, the universal pattern of existence.”  [1]

 What is true for a growing human personality, is also true for a growing kitty personality [and 90 percent of the sheer fun of kitties is the truth that they have their own little personality!].  When you notice that your kitty is startled and reacts by avoiding you, you must find a way to draw kitty back to your circle of love.   Fortunately kitties are forgiving creatures.  Use these training approaches:

 A Soft touch

Take note of the feel of a kitten’s tounge when he/she licks your hand.  That is the appropriate pressure to apply when handling and training your precious fur ball.   Kitty is a small little thing and needs a light touch.

 Tender Voice

As you train your kitten, use tender sounds  and consistent language to draw her/him to you.

  •  “Here kitty, kitty” spoken quickly means FOOD
  •  “Good kitty,” means jump up on the kitty furniture and get a snack
  •  “Kitty go out? Kitty go out?” means I’m heading to the door to let you outside.
  •  “Precious kitty,” means turn your chin up and I’ll scratch you ears.

 Strong Voice

When kitty is doing things you don’t want her to do, use a strong, growling voice to say “Bad Cat” and “No.”  Before long kitten will understand and respond to your bidding — although adult cats are not as biddable, they do understand the negative:

  • “Bad Cat,” means stop right now – as in stop scratching the curtains.
  • “NO,” means stay away – as in stay away from my glass and stop putting your nose in my drink.

Nosey Nell likes to sleep upside down

Maddie Bell and Nosey Nell, well-trained kittens,  were adopted from A.R.F. in Wimberley.

1, Incarnation of Love, p. 65

Well trained kittens are a blessing!

Evolution of Domestic Cats

Wildcats are divided into five subspecies: the European wildcat, the Near Eastern wildcat, the Southern African wildcat, the Central Asian wildcat and the Chinese desert cat. This wildcat was photographed in Africa. Kim Wolhuter/National Geographic, via Getty Images

Like babies of all species,
kitten is a sentient being.
A little life-force arising in the Divine Consciousness
which surrounds us, flows through us, lives and breathes
our unified consciousness into apparent separate lives.

So  when your cherished darling shows up on the door step with a little snake  dangling from her/his mouth, DO NOT scream, slam the door and scold.

Kitty  is a bit of Divine Consciousness, snake is a bit of Divine Consciousness, you  are a bit of Divine Consciousness.  All  of us exist in a unified field of Sublime Divine Conscious Energy.  Honor the kitty, the snake and yourself.

Remain calm, say, “Good kitty,” close the door gently leaving kitten and snake outside and go take a stiff drink of something to calm your nerves.  Recall that your precious bundle of fur evolved as a  descendant of Wildcats, and unlike dogs, domestic short-hair cats have not been bred into some form of animal that suits human-being temperaments.  Study Traces Cat’s Ancestry to Middle East

As  you develop a slight buzz from your beverage of choice, contemplate the thousands, nay, hundreds-of-thousands of Tom Cats out there in Wild Cat Country  [I live in the rural southwest but the same holds true for suburbs and cities across the nation, in cat talk, everywhere outside your house is Wild Cat  Country].  And Tom cats that have not been neutered rule Wild Cat Country.

Mr. Tom is busy as he can be  propagating at every given chance – for that reason, domestic short-hairs retain a fairly diverse genetic pool, one that keeps ancient Wildcat evolutionary genes alive.   The Evolution of House Cats

Mr. Tom, Old Snaggletooth Wildcat, and your Sweetums all have the hunter’s heart that served to keep the species alive through all the terrors of life before domestication.

As a good parent to a kitten, you will honor her hunter’s heart and simple engage good training practices when kitty gifts you with a  snake.

A Principle To Remember:
Animal training begins when  YOU restrain, and retrain yourself.

Emily S Carter

My two beautiful little girl kitties came from ARF -- a rescue service in Wimberley. Maddie Bell, in the header photo, likes to help me make the bed.

Shelter cats are the best!


Making a difference to pet owners looking for their lost cat [or dog] – this is a place to post information about your animal and to provide contact information -- see the Lost Cat page.

Its also home to cat and dog stories -- see The Literary Cat page.


All text and images © copyright 2011 Emily S. Carter. All rights reserved.
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