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?


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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