Who’s Smarter: The Dog Or The Cat?

The topic seems kind of off and random but this is in-fact a very serious debate that’s been relevant to many for a long time.

Are dogs smarter than cats? Or is it the opposite?

This contentious debate may now have an answer. Dogs, it turns out, have about twice the number of neurons in their cerebral cortex than what cats have, which suggests they could be about twice as intelligent.

A team of researchers from six different universities in the U.S., Brazil, Denmark, and South Africa contributed to the research, Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, a journal soon to publish on the study.

Amongst the researchers of this study, neurologist Suzana Herculano-Houzel has been studying cognitive function in humans and animals for about a decade. To get as precise a measurement as possible, she starts by counting neurons (a special type of nerve cell found in the brain that transmits messages).

You take the brain and turn it into a soup.

She said, matter-of-factually, as the first step to finding these neurons. From there, she said, ‘You end up with a number of suspended nuclei from neuron cells that allow the researchers to estimate the number of neurons present’.

But why use neurons?

Neurons are the basic information processing units, the more units you find in the brain, the more cognitively capable the animal is.

To get an idea of how many neurons dogs and cats might typically have, her team used three brains—one from a cat, one from a golden retriever, and one from a mixed-breed small dog. Two brains were used to study dogs because the canines vary so greatly in size.

In each of the dogs’ brains, despite varying in size, researchers found about 500 million neurons, more than double the 250 million found in the cat’s brain.

So does this signify that dogs are smarter than cats?

We definitely need more research on this topic before we can definitively state how meaningful brain size is as a measure of intelligence across different animal groups.

Said Sarah Benson-Amram, a scientist at the University of Wyoming’s Animal Behavior and Cognition lab.

It’s not a larger body that explains the number of neurons you have, you can have animals with similar-sized brains, and they have completely different numbers of neurons.

Science continues to make discoveries that could make a point for either side, but for now the only acceptable evidence we have for this debate is that both these animals are smart in their own light and individual way, and definitely show it as well in their own ways.


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