We are far from thinking that we can unequivocally or categorically determine whether dogs or cats are smarter. That’s why we decided to ask a veterinary expert to analyze which of the two most popular pets around the world is more intelligent.
We admit that the age-old question among self-described “dog people” or “cat people”: “Which of the two animals is smarter” is of keen interest to us too!
The answer is unlikely to affect one’s impressions or preferences, but it is a fact that anyone who keeps a dog is inclined to argue that four-legged friends are smarter than cats. And vice versa – supporters of purring balls of love are, of course, in the opposite position.
The truth is that there is still a lively debate in scientific circles about the intelligence of the two animals.
“The answers animals can give us about their abilities are only as good and accurate as the questions we ask them,” explains Dr. Annie Waluska, Ph.D., Senior Pet Behaviorist at the Purina Cat Show .
“Perhaps a dog is superior to a cat because a study was conducted in a laboratory environment, and as we know cats are hunters by nature and have a set of (adaptive) behavioral responses to a potentially threatening situation that makes them not participate in the experiment as whole”, Dr. Valuska also shares.
Definition and test of intelligence
What exactly is intelligence? In humans, this term usually refers to the ability to remember details such as facts, as well as the ability to solve complex and/or creative problems. When it comes to our pets, scientific research relies on testing whether dogs and cats can learn commands or perform certain tasks.
“Dogs generally meet and become familiar with more people and places in their daily lives (walks, car rides, etc.) and have a long history of cooperating with humans throughout the evolution of our species,” explains Dr. Waluska. Quadrupeds are specifically bred to retain certain behavioral traits. The result? Dogs have the necessary training and successfully cope with various tests – even taken out of their comfort zone (home).
This technique for testing feline intelligence, however, does not work. This is because cats have a different social life and are most likely self-domesticated. Purring pets are not selectively bred for certain behavioral traits, but rather appearance characteristics, and they generally tend to be more independent.
“As a result, it can be difficult to get a cat to participate in the same experiments that demonstrate intelligence levels in dogs,” explains Dr Waluska. However, the specialist is of the opinion that it is a mistake to assume that this difficulty speaks of a lack of feline intelligence.
To get an idea of the intelligence of cats, scientists look at the following categories:
• Object permanence, or in other words – if you hide something from your cat’s view, will she know it’s still there?
• Memory – will she remember it’s there even if you distract her for 30 seconds?
• Cause and Effect: Anyone whose cat has learned that knocking something off the table is a great way to get attention can testify that many pets pass this test with flying colors!
And last but not least, an understanding of timing (at least in terms of when it’s time to feed her) and human cues (if you point to something, does the cat follow your finger? And does it respond to its name?).
The dogs are also tested in some additional categories, such as whether they can learn commands, understand different units of quantity or learn words – names of their toys. Every “dog” may have heard of the famous abilities in this area of Border Collies, and a few “genius” representatives of the breed are even capable of learning the names of about 100 different objects, as well as choosing them from a pile when asked. from them.
So who is smarter?
Humans often associate the intelligence of animals with how easily they lend themselves to training. Since dogs are generally easier to train, we tend to assume that they are smarter than cats. However, training purring animals is neither impossible nor all that laborious. It is simply necessary to approach it in a different way.
Both types of pets develop their bonds with humans through regular interaction and behave in ways that may not be as easy to test in a laboratory setting.
What works for dogs may not work for cats and vice versa. For this – there is no easy answer to the question of whether dogs or cats are smarter. Instead of wondering, it’s better to focus on the unique abilities of each species (and indeed, each individual animal)!
Scientists are adamant about one thing – the important thing is to love our pets and develop their abilities through play and exercise as much as possible.