Are Cats Smarter than Dogs?

The long-standing argument about whether cats or dogs are smarter has sparked many conversations among pet lovers and scientists. Cats and dogs both make people happy and provide companionship in different ways. But determining intelligence isn’t just about comparing tricks and obedience. In this article, we shall answer the question as old as man, “Are Cats Smarter than Dogs?”. We also explored the Extent of Intelligence in Cats and in Dogs. As well as the Differences and Similarities between cats and Dogs.

Deciding whether cats or dogs are smarter isn’t simple. Although dogs have been studied more, it doesn’t mean we have a definite answer. Cats and dogs share some intelligence traits, like understanding sounds and getting mentally stimulated by toys. However, they’re different animals, so comparing them directly is hard. It’s better to look at how each is intelligent on its own. Let’s delve into how we can measure the intelligence of cats and dogs.

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Extent of Intelligence in Cats

Cats are often seen as independent, and some may think they’re not as smart as dogs because they don’t do tricks or follow commands as easily. However, cats show intelligence in different ways.

One way is through their problem-solving skills. Cats are natural hunters, and when they stalk and catch prey, it shows they understand things like physics, timing, and coordination.

Cats also have great spatial memory. They can remember the layout of their territory, navigate through complex places, and even find their way home in unfamiliar areas. This skill helps them survive in the wild.

Another sign of intelligence is how cats communicate through body language. Their movements and expressions convey various emotions, and people who have cats often develop a deep understanding of their furry friends based on these cues. This non-verbal communication shows how socially smart cats can be. Keep reading to find out Are Cats Smarter than Dogs?.

See also: What Dog Breed is Best to Gift someone

Are Cats Smarter than Dogs?

Extent of Intelligence in Dogs

Dogs are often praised for their loyalty, trainability, and eagerness to follow instructions. Humans and dogs have formed a unique connection through thousands of years of domestication, influencing the social smarts of dogs in meaningful ways.

One important part of dog smarts is their knack for understanding and responding to human signals. Dogs can learn a variety of commands, from basic obedience to complex tricks, showing their ability to connect ideas. This adaptability has made dogs essential in many roles, like service and therapy, as well as search and rescue.

Additionally, dogs are great at understanding human feelings and intentions, showing social cognition. Their emotional intelligence is evident in their ability to empathize and build strong bonds with people. Dogs can sense changes in their owner’s mood, providing comfort and companionship during tough times.

See also: What Cat Breed is Best to get for my Child 

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Differences between Cats and Dogs

Though it may seem like a common saying, there genuinely are individuals who prefer cats over dogs and vice versa. This distinction exists because cats and dogs possess unique characteristics. It’s important to note that we are making generalizations here, and each pet is one of a kind. However, let’s explore the most apparent differences between cats and dogs:

Dogs Stay Busy During the Day and Rest at Night

Although your dog might take short naps during the day, they’re generally more active during daylight hours.

Are Cats Smarter than Dogs?

Cats Prefer Sleeping Through the Day

If you observe your cat staying in the same comfy spot all day, don’t worry – it’s normal! Cats are more active during dawn and dusk, and they can make excellent natural alarm clocks.

Dogs Generally Bark for Alerts or Attention

While not all dogs follow this pattern, most use their barking to communicate various things, whether it’s notifying you of a delivery, signaling dinnertime, or expressing stress.

Cats Express Themselves with a Variety of Sounds

Beyond the usual meows and yowls, cats use a diverse range of sounds to communicate. From hisses and snarls indicating displeasure to purrs, coos, and other affectionate sounds expressing happiness, your cat has a wide repertoire of noises to convey different emotions.

See also: What Pet to Choose between Cat and Dog: See Reasons and Comparison. 

Dogs Crave Social Interaction

Indeed, your canine companion adores spending time with their human family. While the degree of snuggling and sticking by your side varies from one dog to another, dogs, in general, are highly social animals that cherish their connection with people.

Cats Appreciate Alone Time

In contrast, your feline buddy values solitude and requires ample personal space for contentment. This doesn’t imply your cat doesn’t love you; she just also enjoys having peaceful moments on her own.

Similarities between Cats and Dogs

While cats and dogs have many distinctions, they also have similarities! Both make wonderful pets and can be a fantastic addition to your family. Here are some things they have in common:

They Both Boost Your Health

It’s not just a secret that having pets makes life better; it’s also good for your health. Pets offer emotional support, make great companions, and encourage you to stay active by playing and exercising.

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They Need a Nutritious Diet

Both cats and dogs require good food to stay healthy. While their nutritional needs may vary a bit, they generally do well when they eat fresh, whole foods with plenty of protein, and get all the necessary vitamins and minerals for their bodies.

You Can Teach Tricks to Both Cats and Dogs

While your dog might be more eager to learn tricks for your praise, you can also train your cat with the right rewards. Both pets can be trained; you just need to use rewards that they find valuable.

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They’re Both Really Smart

When it comes to thinking and learning, both cats and dogs are quite impressive. However, it doesn’t mean they have the same level of intelligence. While both are smart, there are some differences in how they use their brains. Keep reading to find out more in this post, “Are Cats Smarter than Dogs?”.

How Dogs Demonstrate their Intelligence

Dogs often demonstrate their smarts in various ways, surprising us with their capabilities. Some of the ways they do this include;

Dogs can be taught to use computers

Studies show that older dogs who engage in touchscreen activities, activated by licking, maintain better cognitive function. After training, these dogs became more motivated, curious, and showed improved memory skills. However, they don’t type with their paws.

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Some Dogs take on Human Jobs

Dogs do many jobs to help us, like guiding people who are blind, finding substances with their sense of smell, rescuing climbers, and delivering messages. Daniel Shaw, a certified dog behavior consultant, says that dogs’ excellent sense of smell makes them perfect for scent detection work. In this role, dogs learn to react in a specific way to certain scents to get a reward. It’s an amazing skill considering how good their sense of smell is and how many scents they have to tell apart.

Dogs can copy Human actions

In one study, dogs copied actions they learned from their owners, even if it meant not getting a treat. Another research found that dogs usually yawned when their owners did but didn’t yawn when they saw a stranger do it. It’s heartwarming because scientists think our furry friends imitate their owners because of the strong bond and empathy they share.

Dogs became friends with humans before any other animal

They started living with and being social around people about 23,000 years ago. Some experts think dogs figured out that being friends with humans was better for their survival, especially in cold places, where teaming up for food was more beneficial than seeing humans as competition.

How Cats Demonstrate their Intelligence

Cats display a variety of ways to demonstrate their thinking abilities, often surprising us with their capabilities. Some of the ways include;

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Cats can see Objects that we can’t

Research by Canadian scientists showed that cats have a concept called ‘object permanence,’ similar to humans. This means cats know that an object exists even if they can’t see it, and they can find it even when it’s hidden behind something.

Cats can learn and copy what humans do

According to a certified clinical animal behaviorist, they can even learn more advanced behaviors. The behaviors include sitting or giving a high five being taught with simple training. A study in Japan showed that when humans did specific actions, like touching a box or resting their head on a table, cats were able to copy and adjust those actions in most cases.

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They can recognize their friends

Studies suggest that cats connect faces with names and voices. Scientists presented cats with pictures of other cats, some from their neighborhood and others chosen randomly. Cats tended to look longer at pictures of cats they recognized, especially when the owner said the photographed cat’s name.

They can learn new behaviors

In the past, cats were not naturally social animals. From an evolutionary standpoint, they preferred to be alone in the wild. However, their ability to think and learn has allowed them to adjust to living with people. Experts suggest that cats are most friendly to both humans and other cats if they are handled and learn to socialize before seven weeks old.

Although there have been studies on the intelligence of dogs and cats, more attention has been given to dogs. Some researchers have pointed out this imbalance, emphasizing the need for more exploration into the mental abilities of cats. They believe that understanding cats better could strengthen the bond between humans and their feline friends.

See also: Are Money Trees Toxic to Cats?

Anatomy of a Cat and Dog’s Brain

Did you know that the brains of cats and dogs are quite similar to human brains? They have structures like the amygdala, which helps them recognize and respond to threats, and a hippocampus, which is important for learning and memory.

Their brains also include frontal lobes, responsible for guiding movements and vocalizations. However, in cats, this part makes up only about 3% of the brain, while in dogs, it’s around 10%, compared to 25% in humans.

Let’s talk about neurons, which are like messengers carrying information in the brain. On average, dogs have about 500 million neurons in their brains, while cats have around 250 million. Interestingly, brain size doesn’t always match neuron count – for example, dogs have the same number of neurons as brown bears!

See also: Food Aggression In Dogs

Are Cats Smarter than Dogs?


In the ongoing discussion about whether cats or dogs are smarter, the key is to understand that both species have diverse types of intelligence. Their cognitive abilities are influenced by their evolutionary background, unique traits, and the environment they live in. Dogs may shine in training and understanding social cues, while cats demonstrate intelligence in being independent, solving problems, and navigating space.

The perception of a pet’s intelligence is subjective and depends on the criteria used to judge. Both cats and dogs bring special qualities to our lives, enhancing our experiences in different ways. Instead of treating it like a contest, appreciating the unique strengths and characteristics of each species helps us value the varied intelligence present in our cat and dog companions.

See also: https://www.thewildest.com/dog-behavior/dog-intelligence

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