The ongoing battle between dog and cat lovers may intensify with a recent study that shows dogs may be smarter than cats.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University, University of California Davis, University of Richmond, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the Copenhagen Zoo in Frederiksberg, Denmark, found a dog’s cerebral cortex contains more than twice the neurons of a cat’s brain.
According to the study, dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons, while cats have about 250 million.
Neurons are cells associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviors, which strongly relate to intelligence.
Suzana Herculano-Houzel, Vanderbuilt associate professor of psychology and biological sciences, said the findings show dogs are more capable of behaviors related to intelligence than their feline counterparts.
“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,” she said. “At the least, we now have some biology that people can factor into their discussions about who’s smarter, cats or dogs.”
For comparison, a human brain contains almost 30 times as many cortical neurons compared to a dog.
Other animals in the study included ferrets, mongooses, raccoons, hyenas, lions and brown bears. All eight species of animals studied are carnivores.
The study also found that raccoons are an outlier. They have brains the size of a cat, but the same number of neuronsas a dog.
Bears were found to have the same amount of neurons as a cat. A hyena and lion, like the brown bear, had less neurons than the brain of a golden retriever.
Herculano-Houzel said that what animals and humans do with their biological and cognitive capabilities depends on the amount of effort they put in.
More on the study can be found in the video below.