Are Cats Smarter Than Dogs? Here’s What Science Says

are cats smarter than dogs

Last Updated on January 20, 2024 by Fumipets

Are Cats Smarter Than Dogs? Unraveling the Age-Old Debate


The age-old debate of feline vs. canine intelligence has fueled countless discussions among pet enthusiasts and animal lovers. Are cats smarter than dogs, or is it the other way around? Each side has its staunch supporters armed with anecdotes and scientific arguments.

In this thought-provoking exploration, we delve deep into the intricacies of feline and canine intelligence. Let’s uncover the fascinating world of cat and dog cognition, shedding light on their unique abilities, problem-solving skills, and the ever-elusive question: who truly holds the title of the smarter species?

Are Cats Smarter Than Dogs?

Are Cats Smarter Than Dogs? Particularly for those who love dogs and cats, this is a difficult question to answer. Being prejudiced is almost difficult!

To quickly address your question, cats are, in fact, more intelligent than dogs under certain circumstances. Dogs, however, have more brain cells than cats do and have been domesticated for a longer period of time.

Basically, there isn’t a straightforward response to the query; read on to find out more. We discuss the science behind it all, including why cats win out over dogs in certain situations and vice versa.

Brain Smarts

You may be shocked to find that a researcher really counted the neurons in the brains of dogs and cats. Brazilian biologist Suzana Herculano-Houzel discovered that the dog’s brain contains roughly 530 million neurons, whereas the cat’s brain has about 250 million.

According to Herculano-research, Houzel’s dogs are superior to cats in terms of intelligence. But is that true?

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Are Cats Smarter Than Dogs

Different Brains Means Different Smarts

A Psychology Today article claims that compared to dogs, cats have far greater long-term memory. When individuals learn via their actions rather than through observation, this is especially true. However, dogs outperform cats when it comes to social duties.

It is useless to compare the intelligence of various animal species, according to Kristyn Vitale, a researcher and educator who studies cat behavior, human-cat interaction, and cat social cognition. The intelligence of every species varies.

For instance, although cats are considerably better hunters than dogs, dogs may be taught to be search-and-rescue or guiding dogs. Cats are probably intelligent enough to be taught in the same manner as dogs, but the real issue is whether they would want to. “Cats are wiser than dogs,” is a phrase that perfectly captures the feline mentality. Eight cats cannot be made to pull a sled through snow (Jeff Valdez).

You may look at self-sufficiency in addition to training as a way to evaluate intellect. Cats are more than competent to survive on their own. They are able to find, catch, and groom themselves their own food. For these things, dogs are quite reliant on us. Cats’ cautious but inquisitive behavior is unquestionably proof of their intelligence.

The Independent and Stubborn Cat

If you’ve ever shared a home with a cat, you are aware of their independence and unwillingness to cooperate. Due to how difficult it is to do research on cat intelligence, there aren’t many studies on the subject. On the other hand, since dogs are more obedient, a ton of research has been done on them.

By 2004, several publications and research had been published on canine intelligence, but none had been done on cat intelligence, according to Science Magazine. Cats have since been the focus of a few studies, however it has been shown that they are not the most willing participants and often quit out.

Cats can detect their owner’s voice, according to a 2013 research, but they often choose not to react to it (you can read more about it in Smithsonian Magazine). The majority of cat owners are likely not shocked to learn this.

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It is believed that cats have a far greater level of freedom than dogs since they have never been educated in the same manner. Dogs have an edge over them since they have been domesticated for a longer period of time.

How About Those Dogs?

Dogs have the IQ of a 2- to 2. 5-year-old kid, according to study by psychologist and canine expert Dr. Stanley Coren. They are able to comprehend more than 150 phrases and are not beyond tricking humans and other canines in order to get rewards.

The Border Collie, which can comprehend up to 250 words, is the brightest breed of all! Dogs are able to read human emotions as well.

Dog intelligence may be divided into three types: instinctive, adaptive, and obedient.

• Instinctive: This is, of course, a result of instincts, but it also fundamentally corresponds to what the dog was bred to perform.

• Adaptive: This refers to the dog’s capacity to change or learn from its surroundings and experiences in order to address issues.

• Obedience: The dog behaves and obeys in this way. It is comparable to “school learning,” in that sense.

Additionally, dogs are capable of understanding basic numbers and can count to four or five. The most intelligent canines, for instance, can recognize the mistake of 1 + 1 = 1 or even 1 + 1 = 3.

Dogs may also acquire knowledge via observation. This includes finding valuable goods (such as toys or rewards), the best routes nearby (such as to a favorite sleeping location), using various systems (such as locks and opening doors), and understanding the meaning of words and gestures (pointing or other actions).

There is no doubt that dogs are clever, but it is unclear how their intelligence stacks up against that of cats.

Those Studies

As you would expect, a lot of research has been done to gauge the intellect of dogs and, to a lesser degree, cats. Scientific evidence that dogs are conceptually smarter than cats is provided by the neuron-counting research.

The Belgian Society to the Elevation of the Domestic Cat conducted an experiment in 1876 in which cats were used to carry mail. Even while the cats were successful and delivered the mail, it took several of them at least 24 hours, and it should come as no surprise that many of them were unmotivated to do it.

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So, there is no doubt that cats are intelligent. They are capable of determining if a task is worthwhile for them or not.

Are Cats Smarter Than Dogs? Final Thoughts

It’s unfair to compare dogs and cats to apples and oranges. Cats are smarter than dogs in certain situations, and vice versa. In the long term, all animals are intelligent in some manner to aid in their survival.

In fact, fish count more accurately than cats. It comes from the value of swimming in a group at school and the safety it provides; it’s literally safety in numbers. Therefore, simply enjoy spending time with your pets rather than thinking if your neighbor’s dog is smarter than your cats. Even while more study on cats is needed, we don’t really need such studies to inform us how wonderful our cats are!

Q&A: Are Cats Smarter Than Dogs?



Are cats more independent, and does that make them smarter?

Cats’ independence can sometimes be mistaken for intelligence. While cats are self-sufficient creatures, it’s essential to differentiate between independence and problem-solving abilities. Intelligence encompasses various aspects, including adaptability and learning, where dogs often have the upper hand.


Can cats learn tricks like dogs?

Yes, cats can learn tricks and commands, but their willingness to do so varies from cat to cat. Dogs tend to excel in obedience training due to their social nature and desire to please their owners. However, with patience and positive reinforcement, many cats can also learn impressive tricks.


Do dogs have a better understanding of human emotions?

Dogs have a remarkable ability to read human emotions and respond to them, thanks to their long history of domestication and co-evolution with humans. This emotional intelligence often gives the impression of dogs being more empathetic and understanding than cats.


Are there studies that compare the intelligence of cats and dogs?

Yes, several studies have attempted to compare feline and canine intelligence. These studies typically focus on problem-solving tasks, memory, and learning abilities. Results can be influenced by various factors, including the specific breeds or individual animals involved.


Can we definitively determine whether cats or dogs are smarter?

Determining whether cats or dogs are smarter is a complex challenge. Intelligence in animals is multifaceted, and what may be considered “smart” in one species might not apply to another. Cats and dogs have evolved with different survival strategies, making direct comparisons difficult. Ultimately, both species exhibit unique forms of intelligence that contribute to their special roles as companions and working animals.



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