Cats and dogs tend to get along most of the time, even though pop culture thought their rivalry would be more exciting. Cat people and dog people, however, tend to disagree on many aspects regarding their pets, especially when it comes to their intelligence. So much so, that a study was needed to shed some light on how smart are the two house pets.
Dogs have more neurons than cats
According to the new research, published in the journal, Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, the winners turned out to be our canine companions. Dogs are thought to possess “significantly” more neurons in their cerebral cortex than cats. The team of researchers was led by Vanderbilt University professor, Suzana Herculano- Houzel, and the study conducted seems to debunk the long-standing theory that the ratio of neurons to brain size in small-to-medium carnivores is almost equal to that of vegetarians.
Herculano-Houzel and her team monitored the brain activity of a golden retriever and concluded that the dog had more neurons than a hyena, lion, or brown bear. The brown bear’s brain is ten times larger than a cat but apparently, it contained the same amount of neurons.
The study revealed that the size of an animal doesn’t matter when it comes to the number of neurons found in their brain. Besides the golden retriever, the team also looked at the brain activity of a domestic ferret, a branded mongoose, and a raccoon.
“…it is clear that carnivores must impose a delicate balance between how much brain and body a species can afford,” said Herculano-Houzel.
Is the cats and dogs feud solved?
Jessica Perry Heckman, a veterinary geneticist at MIT and Harvard’s Broad Institute, doesn’t believe the study is conclusive, pointing out to its small sample size. In other words, researchers only compared two dog brains to one other brain from each species.
“Which isn’t to say it’s wrong,” Heckman acknowledged, “but that it’s definitely something that they’re just starting out with and collecting information on.”
While cats and dogs are on different sides of the intelligence spectrum according to this study, that doesn’t mean they aren’t great companions.
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