Are Cats or Dogs Smarter? Scientists Break Down the Numbers

PetMD Editorial
Published: December 05, 2017
Share this:

Cats versus dogs. Whether it's about their cleanliness, their friendliness or, in this case, their intelligence, there's always some contention about who comes out on top. 

While pet parents of each respective animal will argue that their cat or dog is the smartest creature out there, it's dogs who have the numbers in their favor, according to recent findings in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy

The study—which was conducted by researchers from around the world (including the Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark)—concludes, among other findings, that dogs have more neurons than cats. Researchers found that dogs have over 500 million neurons in the cerebral cortex, compared to roughly 250 million in the cat's brain. (The researchers studied two dog brains and one cat brain.) 

Though dogs don't have the largest brain in the animal kingdom, their intelligence is on par with that of raccoons or lions.

In fact, the size of an animal didn't necessarily have an impact on the number of neurons. For instance, a bear has roughly the same amount of neurons as a domestic cat. 

So, is this the end-all, be-all when it comes to whether cats or dogs are smarter? Well, it's a little bit more complex than that. 

One of the study's researchers, Jessica Perry Hekman, a veterinary geneticist at MIT and Harvard's Broad Institute, told The Washington Post, "I'm not even really sure we should call intelligence one trait. It's a lot of different things." 

Image via Shutterstock 

Read more: 7 Signs of Dog Intelligence