Cats, Dogs

Cat or Dog, Which Is Smarter? Check If Your Pet Is The Same Too

This question in itself is more like a debate. Cat and dog parents think their pet is more intelligent or acts smarter. But, it’s an age-old debate, and to settle it down, scientists come up with different researches that clearly show which is smarter cat or dog?

So, before we begin with the answer, there is a thing you need to know. No matter what science says, the fact is that both cats and dogs are different species and have lesser or greater tendencies to respond.

We can’t consider a dog sharp-headed if it acts smartly on one thing and a cat doesn’t. A cat can do well in areas where a dog can’t do it accurately. This post will tell you all that you need to know. So let’s get into it.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Criteria of Intelligence/Smartness

Every animal is unique in its creation. From body structure to metabolism, everything is according to its needs. The Brain is no exception. Likewise, an animal can be sharp according to its brain functioning. So, there are some measures on which we can decide which is smarter cat or dog?

Cat or Dog, Which Is Smarter

Let’s start with the discussion:

  • Intelligence based on scientific research
  • smartness in terms of behavior
  • Memory (recognition and recall)
  • Skills (hunting abilities, social skills, etc.)
  • Obedience

Intelligence Based On Scientific Research

Since it is difficult answering the debate, many scientists came forth with some experiments on cats’ and dogs’ cognitive behavior and brain activity. It logically concludes the result of their relative ‘Smarts.’

While doing a brain study, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, a Neuroscientist, counted the number of neurons in both brains. And the results showed that there was a clear winner between the two. Neurons determine the measure of intelligence. The higher the number of neurons, the more mentally active the animal is.

What Are Neurons?

Neurons work as receptors and are basic units of the Brain. They receive messages from the outer world and send commands to the rest of the nervous system. So, a brain with lesser neurons will perform fewer cognitive activities than a brain with more neurons.

Who Comes Out on Top – Cat or Dog?

Herculano-Houzel collected the brains of a dead cat and two dogs (a Golden-Retriever and a small breed dog). The reason behind picking different breeds of dogs was to find whether the brain size matters.

The area of expertise of Herculano and her team was the cerebral-Cortex of the Brain. It is directly related to intelligence and the thinking process.

She liquefies it into a brain soup. Once it dissolved, She counted the suspended nuclei of neuron cells. And found that dogs have around 530 million neurons in the cerebral cortex, whereas cats have nearly 200 million neurons. Thus, if someone as which is smarter cat or dog? Then scientifically, we can say that dogs are more intelligent than cats.

Dogs Win

Smartness in Terms of Behavior

Regardless of what science says, it’s a universal fact that each living being is intelligent in its own way. If a dog is good at Dog things, the cat does amazingly well in cat things. If we talk about natural behavior, cats tend to be more independent than dogs. Dogs mostly rely on people for so many things.

Cats are naturally more self-sustained. They can provide for themselves. Moreover, dogs are not as efficient at fending themselves as cats.

Also, dogs can be trained smoothly and show positive responses. But, cats are more likely to decide on their own. If a cat doesn’t like to perform a specific task, it won’t be doing it. Hence, it is clear that dogs are technically smarter, as their neurons transmit the owner’s message to the body and command it to perform.

It’s A Tie

Memory (Recognition and Recall)

Cats are brilliant in recognition and recall. They have an awesome memory which is 100 times better than a dog. Cats learn things not just by watching but by performing them. And cats can retain this memory for years. Cats can also recognize their owner’s voice and scent and recall it. On the other hand, dogs don’t have a good memory as cats. Dogs don’t retain things as long.

Moreover, cats have an edge in puzzle solving as well. They can solve it on their own, whereas dogs need help. So if you think which is smarter cat or dog? Then cats tend to be smarter in terms of memory.

Cats Win

Skills (Detecting, Hunting, and Social Skills)

When it comes to survival or life skills, both the animals possess the intelligence to some degree. Dogs are skilled enough to be trained as detecting or rescue dogs. That is why they become detectors in the military and police. They school a dog to sniff and search for a lot of things. Unlike dogs, cats lack this skill. But cats are incredible hunters. They are very energetic and can briskly hunt down their prey.

If we talk about smartness, dogs are smart enough in social skills, whereas cats are not. Dogs go for puppy training classes, enjoy the car ride, and can go to the parks for a walk. Dogs learn adorable tricks to perform in front of an audience.

Dogs Win


If we consider obedience and following rules as a measure of intelligence, dogs have the advantage, as dogs are very obedient to humans. Unlike cats, they don’t get stubborn and obey their owner. Also, dogs follow the rules once they learn them.

Dogs Win

Is Cat or Dog Smarter Comparable?

As a bottom line, I would like to quote Brian Hare’s statement here.

Asking which species is smarter is like asking if a hammer is a better tool than a screwdriver.

“Each tool is designed for a specific problem, and it depends on the nature of the problem we are solving.”

Brian Hare

The same goes for both pets, either cats or dogs.

So, the answer to which is smarter cat or dog is that both are smart in their own way. Science and its researches are never 100% true. So, do not begin to unlike a cat if your dog wins in the neurons race. Every animal is loveable and can make a cheerful companion when you give them pure attention and love!

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