Are dogs really smarter than cats?

A recent study claims to have proven once and for all that dogs are smarter than cats, but what do the people of Cardiff think?

Man’s best friend has come out on top in a battle of intelligence between dogs and cats, according to the latest research.

According to science, dogs are smarter than cats. reader of the pack ©

Researchers at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee claims to have answered the age old question of which is the superior species – dogs or cats – by looking at the number of neurons each species has in a particular part of the brain. Unfortunately for cat lovers, some breeds of dog can have almost three times as many, making them the more intelligent species.

Dr Suzana Herculano-Houszel, associate professor of psychology and biology at Vanderbilt University says, “I believe the absolute number of neurons an animal has, especially in the cerebral cortex, determines the richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience.”

Dr Herculano-Houzel’s research found that cats have around 250 million neurons in their cerebral cortex, while some breeds of dog have nearly 627 million, but does this difference really mean that dogs are smarter than cats?

“I am one hundred percent a dog person, but, with that disclaimer, our findings mean to me that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can,” says Herculano-Houzel.

The people of Cardiff added their voice to the discussion.

Margaret Davis, Health visitor.

“Well humans have got an awful lot more neural connections and I doubt their intelligence sometimes. It’s very breed and individual specific. Cats are more disdainful and do what they want. Dogs seem more needier and certain breeds can be either trained or cajoled…They’re not daft. Not sure about their intelligence but they’re not daft.”


Jackie Walker, secretary.

“ Some dogs do amazing things. Guide dogs, dogs for the hearing, you couldn’t train a cat to do that. I’ve always assumed that dogs are far more intelligent than cats because of what they’re capable of doing. Cats just basically want to keep warm and eat, don’t they?”

Josh and Selena, Social Science postgraduates

Selena: “It depends what you’re defining intelligence as. I think cats are more emotionally intelligent, they seem to have a more broad spectrum of emotions anyway. So, yeah, I don’t really think you can just look at neurons and define it that way.”

Josh: “I have more respect for cats because they’re not as servile as dogs. I guess dogs think we’re one of them, they think they’re one of the pack but I’m pretty sure a cat knows that a cat is a cat.”


Jenny, Dog walker and founder of Paws in Paws Out.

“I’m training to be a dog behaviourist now so I’m looking at intelligence as part of that at the moment. I agree that dogs are very intelligent, I’m not so sure about cats but dogs are very intelligent and they can be trained to do a lot of things if they’re trained properly.”

Gwenno, Marketing and promotions officer for Menter Caerdydd.

“I feel like cats could be clever but they don’t listen to you. Dogs are very trainable. Yeah, dogs are smarter. [My Dog] does everything he knows means treat!”

Robert Lloyd, retired.

“[Dogs] are easily taught. I’m not sure they do anything off their own bat other than what’s necessary like to eat or drink… I think it does depend on, really, how they’re brought up and intelligence is not just innate but it’s trained.”