Dogs Are Smarter Than Cats

Beagle and sleeping black and white kitty-01Continuing the media assault on cats, the Wall Street Journal says that canines outsmart felines:

With half as many neurons in their cerebral cortex as cats—and half the attitude, some would say—dogs are often taken to be the less intelligent domestic partner. While dogs drink out of the toilet, slavishly follow their master and need a chaperone to relieve themselves, cats hunt self-sufficiently and survey their empire with a regal gaze.

But cats beware. Research in recent years has finally revealed the genius of dogs.

Like other language-trained animals—dolphins, parrots, bonobos—dogs can learn to respond to hundreds of spoken signals associated with different objects. What sets dogs apart is how they learn these words.

If you show a child a red block and a green block, and then ask for the chromium block, not the red block, most children will give you the green block, despite not knowing that the word “chromium” can refer to a shade of green. Children infer the name of the object. They know that you can’t be referring to the red block.

In 2004, Juliane Kaminski from Britain’s University of Portsmouth and her colleagues published the results of a similar experiment with a dog called Rico who knew the names of hundreds of objects.

Dr. Kaminski showed Rico an object that he had never seen before, along with seven other toys that he knew by name. Then she asked Rico to fetch a toy using a word that was new to him, like “Sigfried.” Just like human tots with the word “chromium,” Rico was immediately able to infer that “Sigfried” referred to the new toy. ..

[continues at the Wall Street Journal]

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  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.fischer.73 Eric Fischer

    Interesting way of sending the message that the ability to respond to obedience training = intelligence.

    • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

      you took the words out of my mouth!

      • http://www.facebook.com/eric.fischer.73 Eric Fischer

        Kind of disappointing that they don’t feel the need to be more subtle than that.

    • http://www.j3551c4.com/ J3551C4

      seriously best reply ever. yes they are smart but being obedient is not intelligence. if anything they are naturally inclined to make fantastic slaves lol

    • LucidDreamR

      Nail on the head…. One of the very reasons I left the U.S. public school system, and decades later still find it to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Talk about obedience training and indoctrination… It’s an utter shame they have all these people trained so well that when true intelligence or even just original thought comes along, it’s feared and shunned.

  • Tchoutoye

    “…slavishly follow their master and need a chaperone to relieve themselves”

    Anyone who has watched Seinfeld knows it’s not a chaperone but a poop servant.

  • Tchoutoye

    “…slavishly follow their master and need a chaperone to relieve themselves”

    Anyone who has watched Seinfeld knows it’s not a chaperone but a poop servant.

  • Tara

    Cats just don’t care. You can’t get a cat to be obedient because they have no interest in serving us humans. If a cat is not fed, it will go out and hunt. A cat chooses who its “owner/slave”. I love dogs and cats, they both have wonderful, unique qualities. Obedience should never be equated with intelligence, perhaps the opposite is true if you really think about it.

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    if dogs were so smart they wouldn’t eat cat poop

    • TennesseeCyberian

      Or maybe if cats were wiser, they would eat dog poop!

  • bobbiethejean

    Firstly, cats CAN learn words and be trained to follow commands: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOrtLwUkV6Q http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6wgbCmaD8o http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1edDfzluXE I don’t know about “hundreds” but they are trainable and they can obviously learn words.

    Secondly, the ability to “do as you’re told” does not necessarily equate to intelligence. There are different kinds of intelligence aside from word-retrieval and command-following such as problem solving, self-awareness, and object permanence understanding.

    Thirdly, even if this is true, we bred them that way. We bred dogs to be our little bitches (no pun intended) and we bred cats to kill shit. As a result, dogs do what they’re told and cats kill shit very efficiently. Actually, we really didn’t even breed cats much, we just ganked them from the wild and said “free room and board if you kill shit.” Cats agreed and that was more or less the end of cat breeding unless you consider irrelevant crap like smooshed faces or hairlessness. I guarantee you, if we had taken as much an interest in breeding cats for their intelligence as we have with dogs, the little fuckers would be running for senate on the CATS RULE, DOGS DROOL ticket.

    Lastly, these statements are broad and sweeping. I’ve had dogs that were so stupid, I almost wondered if they weren’t dain bramaged and I’ve had cats that were so smart, they were like the fricking velociraptors from Jurassic Park- OH GOD! HE’S FIGURED OUT HOW TO OPEN DOORS! I don’t deny that dogs appear more intelligent and probably are more intelligent on the whole. But to say all dogs are smarter than all cats? That’s just sloppy and demonstrably not true.

    Dismissed. Thoroughly.

    • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

      Why you gotta be skeptical about Everything?!

      nahh i’m just messin, i agree with you here.

      • bobbiethejean

        I CAN’T HELP IT. *sob* It’s just my nature. Or possibly brain damage. I’m not sure.

      • bobbiethejean

        I CAN’T HELP IT. *sob* It’s just my nature. Or possibly brain damage. I’m not sure.

    • Lois

      THANK YOU!

      I love both animals, but see cats as more complex or with a greater variety of emotion, and thought.

      My cat knows about 12 words, comes when I call her, greets me at the door when I arrive, and will show me the toy she would (rather) play with during some of our play sessions.

      By the way, I only call her when there is a bug I want her to catch or if there is exciting bird action for her to observe from the window. I don’t believe in calling a pet just for the pure entertainment of my friends.

      By teaching her various words, we communicate, therefore understand each other. I think this is important in any relationship, human or animal

      I argue with the article’s claim that cats don’t have great memories. I put milk and sugar in my tea. I use lactose-free milk (just so no one attacks me for giving my cat a little now and then.)

      Back to my point. My Mom was visiting, and boiled water to make tea for herself. She does not take milk in her tea as I do. As soon as the kettle whistled, my cat ran over to the fridge, and rubbed against it. She assumed the whistling tea kettle would mean milk!

      No “studies” can change my mind about feline high intelligence.

  • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

    I actually had a dog that was really smart and he acted like a cat. He caught mice and climbed trees on occasion. He was half pit bull and half collie.

    • TennesseeCyberian

      It is strange how cats who are raised around dogs act like those dogs, and dogs who are raised around cats tend to act like cats.

      Some people say that the various races of the world will never get along, and maybe that’s true for mass populations. But if a dog and a cat can get along, so can two people from two sides of any border.

      • http://twitter.com/TedHeistman Ted Heistman

        I tend to think his weird genetics, activated some recessive alleles and brought out more latent wild canine behavior. He wasn’t raised around cats. He just had really well developed hunting instincts. He stalked just like a cat and could generate bursts of speed over 35 mph.

        He listened well and came when called most of the time. So I used to let him run off lead, but he was always killing little animals. We’d be talking a hike and all of a sudden, bang! he’d have a woodchuck. He also caught mink, muskrats, mice, voles, squirrels, weasels, a turkey, one raccoon and also treed a black bear one time.

        The second time he caught a porcupine, though, we no longer let him run loose. I was hoping he’d be smart enough to leave them alone, but he wasn’t. He was basically a giant terrier, like a 75 lb Jack Russell. he could jump a 6 foot fence, dig huge crater sized holes and scale cliffs.

  • BuzzCoastin

    yeah, dogs are smarter than cats
    and cats are smarter than rats
    and rats are smarter than humans

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  • Apathesis

    Dogs are also smellier, noisier, needier, and heavier. I don’t need a stand-in for a fat girlfriend.

    Cats answer to no one. That sort of independence I respect and love.

  • Apathesis

    Dogs are also smellier, noisier, needier, and heavier. I don’t need a stand-in for a fat girlfriend.

    Cats answer to no one. That sort of independence I respect and love.

  • “Big” Richard Johnson

    Dogs and cats get along well enough.

  • Todd X

    I know that any example from our experience is likely going to be anecdotal, however is it possible that that intelligence tests are flawed, Researchers are testing for a perceived support. What is to say that non-human animals don’t have a rich internal intellect? So often I see one of the dogs staring into space seeming deep in thought…not unlike any one of us as we are thinking of the multitudinous possibilities that might have been inspired by the scent of person walking by or a lone shoe neatly placed upon a phone box.

    I guess the problem I have is that perhaps we are limited in our expectations and the design of our experiments are derived from the knowledge and experience we possess. One of the things that comes to mind is when a subject beats the test by solving it with a method the designers had not considered.