A new study suggests domestic house cats may not be as smart as our canine companions. image credit: Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer

Study finds dogs smarter than cats

Researchers look at neuron numbers to determines species’ intelligence

A newly released study may have put an age-old debate to rest: dogs are smarter than cats.

Despite the air of superiority cats are known for portraying, a team of U.S. researchers have found dogs to be their intellectual superiors.

Vanderbilt University associate professor of psychology and biological sciences, Suzana Herculano-Houzel explains the study focused on comparing different species of carnivorans to see how the number of neurons in their brains relates to the size of their brains.

Herculano-Houzel associates the number of “little-grey cells,” or neurons, with a species’ capacity for “thinking, planning and complex behaviour – all considered hallmarks of intelligence.”

“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,” Herculano-Houzel explains in a Vanderbilt University news release.

The study found that domestic cats have approximately 250 million cortical neurons while dogs have about 530 million. Humans, by comparison, have about 16 billion.

“I’m 100 percent a dog person, but, with that disclaimer, 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,” said Herculano-Houze. “At the least, we now have some biology that people can factor into their discussions about who’s smarter, cats or dogs.”

Eight species were included in the study: ferret, mongoose, cat, dog, raccoon, lion, hyena and brown bear.

While dogs may have larger brains than cats, the study shows that brain size doesn’t always determine the number of cortical neurons. Rather, the study found that for the largest carnivores, the neuron-to-brain-size ratio is lower. An example of this is the brown bear. While it’s brain is 10 times larger than that of a house cat, they were found to possess about the same number of neurons.

Meanwhile raccoons, with roughly cat-sized brains, were found to possess a similar number of neurons as dogs.

“Raccoons are not your typical carnivoran,” said Herculano-Houzel. “They have a fairly small brain but they have as many neurons as you would expect to find in a primate… and that’s a lot of neurons.”


@SalmonArm
newstips@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey council sets new rules for Good Citizen of the Year award

Candidates have more hurdles to jump before getting nominated for the prestigious local title

EXPLORE SURREY: Tee up some adventures in the city

Also: A walk through Surrey’s public art collection

In honour of player killed in crash, Surrey soccer team becomes BB5 United

Brandon Bassi died a few months before CCB won the national title last fall

North Surrey rink to reopen first as part of city’s phased schedule for facilities

Councillor pushes for Surrey’s pools and aquatic centres to reopen this month

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Displaced tenant ‘heartbroken’ to find Langley City condo robbed after fire

Wedding rings of Michelle Buchan’s have since been recovered, but much is still missing

‘Agitated’ man pulls out knife on 3 people in Abbotsford

Witnesses sought for incident on Monday night near city hall

FoodMesh taking its emergency food recovery project nationwide

Pilot project in Chilliwack helped show that food surpluses could be diverted to charities in need

Most Read