Who is Smarter - the Cat or the Dog?
For as long as I can remember I have heard that dogs are much smarter than cats, and being a dog I quickly agree with that train of thought.
However, my grandma (being a cat person) has felt that just because a dog will do tricks, and most cats don’t, is not reason enough to say cats are not smart
Her theory has always been that cats are too smart to learn any tricks unless they want to.
It is not something they have to do.
Grandma says by nature dogs are social animals and their main goal in life besides eating, is to please their people.
Cats on the other hand lack the “gene” that makes it important to please anyone, but themselves.
Why have I, a dog, brought this subject up?
Well, my grandma read an article that discussed feline intelligence in Cat Watch, a magazine put out by Cornell’s School of Veterinary Medicine and she took the time to try and explain a few things to me. She knows that I am not exactly keen on cats, but am willing to learn all I can.
The article went on to say, at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, researchers have found that the structure of a cat’s brain and that of a human brain are very similar. (Maybe that is why my Mom seems so stubborn at times.)
To quote the article “the physical structure of our brain and that of cats are very similar: they have the same lobes in the cerebral cortex (the seat of intelligence) as we do. Our brains function the same way, conveying data via identical neurotransmitters.” That means cats take in data from their five senses just as humans do. (Very interesting.)
Hmmmmm, thinking cats. Who would ever believe that?
But, it is true, cats process things in a way similar to a human way of thinking. They actually make decisions. (Well, I make many decisions, too, so there.)
Animal Discovery.com says that cats are: “incredibly resourceful and self-reliant, the species has survived thousands of years in radically different environments and living conditions. Even domestic cats show a crafty, strong-willed and versatile nature.” (If you want to see strong-willed you should see me sometimes.)
However, if you want to see someone really strong willed and rather nasty, you look to the right and see grandma’s cat, Miss Tiger, she is one ruthless cat when it comes to dogs.
Gram says when you see a cat sitting in a doorway or staring off into space, most people just laugh at it, they do not realize that the cat is actually thinking about what it is going to do next.
The cat is actually surveying the situation, using its 5 senses to determine whether it is safe or not to move onward.
I have always thought of a cat as a somewhat anti-social animal because it is solitary by nature, but cats can adapt to conditions just as we dogs do.
”The fact that a cat can adapt to different situations is a sign of intelligence, that goes beyond conditioning or instinct,” says Dr. Julia Albright of Cornell’s Veterinary School.
Cats do socialize with each other, (not Miss Tiger) if the situation warrants it: such as meeting at an eating or drinking place (the barn, fishing pier or where someone feeds stray cats.)
Did you know that domesticated female cats and lions are the only two species of cat that will raise their young in a group with other mothers, if it is necessary?
Cats also learn by observation. (Well, shucks, so do we dogs, I watch Pop-pop all the time and learn things.)
Gram says just because kitty is sitting there staring into space that does not mean it is daydreaming. It may be learning, by watching you, how to open the cupboard door.
Kittens that are raised without their mother or other cats to observe, do not do a lot of things we consider normal behavior for cats.
Cats also retain memory; they are smart enough to know when they are scolded not to do that behavior in front of you again. They will wait until your back is turned.
Dogs on the other hand will repeat a bad behavior several times, before it finally sinks in that they are not supposed behave that way. (I really resent that remark, but I suppose it is true.) Mom really hates for me to tear up my blankets, but it is so much fun I keep doing it.)
We all agree (Gram and me) that dogs are easier to train to do tricks than cats, but Gram says dogs have the predisposition to please, and learning tricks is one way to please. (And I try to please all the time, okay, most of the time.)
Cats can learn tricks, but it is harder to get them to do things, unless you provide a reward that is really appealing.
(Dogs are easy, if you have a treat; we will do a trick.)
There is also the thought that dogs have been selectively bred for certain behaviors; cats have been cats forever.
There has not been a time when a cat has been selectively bred to hunt, catch birds or play only with blue yarn balls.
I agree that particular breeds of cat have been kept as pure as possible and I have never heard of a cat species being bred to do a chore such as “rounding up mice.”
Gram says in truth, it is impossible to say which species is smarter, dogs or cats, but she leaves you with this thought, (remember, she is a cat person) “dogs have masters, cats have staff.”
Should I take offense?