Which animal is more intelligent: the dog or the cat?

Escrito por Mundocachorro

In the world of pets there are countless debates and topics that cause controversy, starting with which animal is the most suitable for children and ending with which of them is the most environmentally friendly. However, the question of which animal is more intelligent: the dog or the cat, is undoubtedly the one that causes the most confrontation between the lovers of these furry animals.

This doubt is moving beyond the realm of the home and social networks, triggering multiple scientific studies that seek to provide the definitive answer. Thus, a study carried out in collaboration with six different universities in the United States, Brazil, Denmark and South Africa has taken the first step towards resolving this eternal debate.


The study of neurons as a measure of intelligence

Defining intelligence in all its expression is a complicated task, as well as finding a reliable method to determine the level of intelligence in the different existing animal species .

For neurologist Suzana Herculano-Houzel, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy on the intelligence of certain carnivores, including dogs and cats, counting neurons is the most effective method to date for measuring intelligence in animals. Being that, according to Herculano’s words: “the total number of neurons of an animal is related to its mental wealth and its ability to predict what is going to happen in its environment”.

Following this, Herculano and his team analyzed the brain structure, mainly the cerebral cortex, and the number of neurons possessed by several of the most popular carnivores: grizzly bears, lions, raccoons, ferrets, hyenas, mongooses, dogs and cats.

With regard to dogs and cats, the study focused on two canine specimens, a Golden retriever and a small mixed breed dog, and on a single feline specimen, because the brain size and brain structure of cats does not vary as much as that of dogs.

The result of the research showed that dogs have almost twice as many neurons as cats, with numbers ranging around 530 million neurons per individual, while domestic felines have a measure of 250 million.

What does the result of this research mean?

The fact that dogs possess a greater number of neurons, regardless of the size of their brains, demonstrates that they have a greater biological capacity to perform much more complex and flexible actions in their lives than cats. For a high number of neurons, especially in the cerebral cortex, is a sign associated with complex thinking, plans and behaviors; elements highly linked to intelligence.

This does not mean that cats are inferior to dogs, but rather that both respond differently to their own abilities and environment, developing certain brain and sensory qualities to a lesser or greater extent.

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