88: Get Smart! Dogs vs Cats

88: Get Smart! Dogs vs Cats

Brain Junk
Brain Junk
88: Get Smart! Dogs vs Cats

Who is the brightest, the most likely to crush the SAT, the one pet who has the brains to out think them all? Is it your cat or your dog?


Who is smarter?
Dogs (The lovely Ruby would agree)
Or cats?
Leap and Haku are too sleepy to care.

Show Notes:
Science Alert Cats vs Dogs

Study done by neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel from Vanderbilt University in the US.

Spoiler alert!

It’s dogs.¬†

Episode Transcript

Welcome to Brain Junk, I’m Trace Kerr and I’m Amy Barton. And this is a Brain Storm.
AB: I’m curious for your answer.
TK: Okay.
AB: You have cats and dog.
TK: Yes.
AB: Which one is smarter?
TK: Uh, that really kind of diff between the two of us.
AB: We would need an operational definition of smart.
TK: Well yeah, I know cause I’m like, I know, that’s exactly what I just did there. Well I would have to say that from a training standpoint, dogs are easier because you know, I’ve trained a dog and cats. I don’t know. I mean somebody who lays around it as absolutely nothing and gets human beings to do everything for them with pretty much no giveback. I in some ways that might be smarter.
AB: That’s true. Well you agree with neuroscientists, Suzana Herculano-Houzel from Vanderbilt University and she did a study in 2017 about this subject, which, which is smarter and the subject has been addressed before and cats have always won because they talk about size of brain, volume of gray matter. ¬†They way in relative size to body cats win normally when you do it that way. But she was looking into it and she’s like, I don’t think it’s that simple. Other scientists have done this before. They have gone in and looked at the number of neurons, especially in the cerebral cortex that 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.
TK: Okay.
AB: So past studies have actually tested this and they had roughly counted 300 million neurons for cats and 160 million neurons for dogs. And she’s like, ah, I’m gonna recheck that. And her study found flip flop about 530 million for dogs and 250 million for cats.
TK: So why are we getting such different numbers?
AB: I think some of it has to do with advances in science study size, um, the technology available to do those counts counting.
TK: Ah, okay.
AB: So the, uh, it’s dog’s friends, but what’s more dogs had the most neurons of any carnivore, even though they don’t have the largest brain. So like bears are not exponentially smarter than dogs. Um, however, the one fun thing that she did find is that the oddball carnivore is the raccoon. Even though it’s close to a cat in size, it is close to a dog in neurological size.
TK: Oh, I believe that in a second. Don’t think we’re domesticating those this soon. But they are as clever as they appear in your backyard, stealing your trash and doing all that fun stuff.
AB: So, yup. Dogs.
TK: Oh yeah. You mean cause they’re just, they’re easier to train. Although, you know, I’ve seen people train cats to do all, you know, like the circus cats and stuff like that.
AB: Yeah. So that’s true. You know, they’re, they’re not, um so this is not to diminish the intelligence of cats. No cat friends. I’m a cat lady.
TK: And I think because a dog is a pack animal, it’s got, I mean there’s more that it has to be doing there. It’s not just living on its own. It has to know not only how to survive, but how to interact with others and how to interpret what they’re thinking and feeling and doing. I mean, that’s true. Maybe you drop a piece of food and point at it, the dog looks at where you’re pointing.
AB: Yes. If you drop a piece of food and point at it, the cat says, I don’t know what you’re doing. You know, we don’t even look at what you’re pointing there. It’s not in there. Uh, they don’t have those interaction neurons in the same way. Those responding to another person, they’re very self motivated internally.
TK: Part of it’s all about me, me, me, me.
AB: Yep.
TK: And I still love them.
AB: Me too.
TK: Cause they purr.
AB: Yep.
TK: Wow.
AB: Yeah. And raccoons, that doesn’t shock me either.
TK: No, my, my parents, you know, they, they’re, they live in a very rural area and they use a bungee cords to keep the garbage can lid on.
AB: Does it work anymore though?
TK: No, because they’ve seen them and there was a mother raccoon. She sitting at the edge of the woods watching. Well, like teaching them, you know, the younger ones how to do things, you know, like look kids, you just pull this thing over here. Voila-dinner.
AB: Yeah. Yeah. You got to have a raccoon proof garbage can. They probably exist, right? They’re probably $200 a can and they include an outer box with a padlock.
TK: I know. Exactly. Well, we are on Facebook and Instagram as BrainJunkPodcast, and you can find us on Twitter as @MyBrainJunk. Amy and I will catch you next time when we share more of everything you never knew you wanted to know, and I guarantee you will not be bored.
TK & AB: I don’t know why that was so quiet. Hello? I’m trying to say that. Oh, I just need to stick my face way into it. Like I’m robbing a bank. Oh yes. Get right up in there. It smells like my breath.


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