August 18, 2015 | Posted in Doctor Sigmund Furry Series

Age-old-Question-400PXDear Dr. Furry,

Who is smarter: dogs or cats?

Edward, Dallas, TX

 

Dear Edward,

Oy! What a question!

This is like judging a beautiful baby contest. Whose baby is cuter, smarter, and just more adorable than the next? The answers to these questions come from proud parents, of course, which make the answers prejudicial. (What parent is going to say they have an ugly or stupid baby, huh?)

When it comes to cats and dogs and other animals, here is what researchers have found, in a watered down way:

Bigger animals have bigger brains, which generally seems to make them smarter. When scientists talk about animal intelligence they compare the size and weight of an animal’s brain to the size and weight (or mass) of the animal.

Bigger animals have bigger brains to control muscle movement. The more muscle movement, the more neurons in the brain are needed to coordinate movement. The bigger an animal is, the more brain cells are needed to process sensory tasks, like reacting to touch, heat, cold, pain, etc.

Animals that live in social groups tend to manifest a greater degree of intelligence than solitary animals.

Domestic dogs evolved from wild canines that were very social. Their survival depended on doing things as a group, especially when hunting other animals. Their social rituals and group behaviors also required social dogs to remember or mentally process information.

SO, based on something called the “encephalization quotient” (brain mass/body mass), the brightest animals line up like this: humans, great apes, porpoises, elephants, then dogs . . .

Then cats, horses, sheep, mice, rats and rabbits.