Oxford University reveals who is smarter – dogs or cats?

by Mark James on December 16, 2010

It’s a debate that has raged since the first caveman threw a stick for his prehistoric pet to fetch – are dogs smarter than cats? It seems that eggheads at Oxford University have come up with an answer.

In a move which will no doubt give dog owners much ammunition to lord it over their feline loving counterparts, scientists at the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford have determined that dogs are more intelligent than cats, thanks to them being more sociable.

smart_dogThey compared data taken about brain size from over 500 different species of mammal, both living and extinct, and found that the brains of sociable animals grew at a greater rate than those who led a more solitary existence.

Cats, who do not have a pack mentality and are therefore less sociable, are among the species whose brains grew at a slower pace as they did not have to co-operate with others.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Susanne Shultz, stated:

“Groups of highly social species have undergone much more rapid increases than more solitary species.”

“This suggests that the cooperation and coordination needed for group living can be challenging and over time some mammals have evolved larger brains to be able to cope with the demands of socialising.”

However, the findings were met with scepticism from some quarters. Peter Wedderburn, veterinary blogger for The Telegraph, said:

“My own conclusion: dogs and cats are smart in different ways. Perhaps the folk who issue press releases on behalf of researchers are the ones who are lacking in intelligence.”

We at Dream Dogs think that contrary to any scientific evidence, the debate will rage for a while yet… but don’t expect your cat to chip in with anything useful.

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