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New Scientist says dogs are smarter than cats -- by a hair

Dogs and cats

They fetch, they hunt, they sniff out contraband from luggage. Has it ever been in doubt that dogs are smarter than cats?

But according to the cover story of the latest New Scientist magazine, the divide between cats and dogs is really closer than some may believe. The magazine created 11 categories to pit the animals against each other. After the first 10 categories, including problem solving (dogs won) to vocalization (cats won), our four-legged friends were in a dead heat.

So it came down to the final battle -- utility, a category in which dogs have no peers. Other than being easy on the eyes and relaxing to pet, the only real utility that cats provide, besides companionship, is the ability to protect a home from vermin. Although that may be priceless to some households, dogs can perform numerous  important tasks, including leading the blind, sniffing out land mines, finding bedbugs and searching for crash victims.

One of the more interesting exercises to determine intelligence was using string to see how well the animals could find hidden food. Though cats failed miserably, dogs didn't do so well either, which shouldn't be that surprising since earlier this fall a study showed that even the smartest dogs were only as bright as a 4-year-old child.

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: A cat gets a little love from a puppy at the Humane Society in Searcy, Ark., on Jan 25, 2008. Credit:  Samuel Peebles / The Daily Citizen

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The problem with these "scientific" tests, are that they are not scientific or exhaustive enough. This all started because ONE, lousy test last year showed that a dog was better at getting a treat off of string than a cat. There are many other ways to test them. I know there is another example or two up there, but that's about it! I think the problem is that dogs are more popular and their owners so desperately want to believe they are smarter. So then the probability goes up that a dog-loving "scientist" will show up and claim the dogs are smarter with some lame test. Dogs may be better at doing things like leading the blind, BUT it's all because dogs are actually dumber. Or could be dumber. The reason is that cats aren't desperate or stupid enough to waste time doing dumb tricks for a stupid treat. Sure a dog that can help the blind is a nice idea, but again nothing to do with cats being dumb.

I also think that dogs get a lot hungrier than cats and need treats more often. While an uninterested cat doesn't show they are smart, it also does NOT show they are dumb. The seeing eye dog is likely spending it's entire day waiting for a treat. Not truly a sign of major intelligence if you ask me. A cat's mind works differently and is much more independent. It also reacts to 5 senses much as we do. Dogs are not like that. Not counting the smartest dog breeds, I've noticed that MOST dogs are FAR dumber than cats.

They sit there are go "yip yip yip" all day, poo in the yard, bark at neighbors, passing cars and ARE a general nuisance. And despite repetitive training they usually bark at the same car over and over again. I also find that their owners are usually less intelligent. The problem is that most dog owners have this idea that they are entitled to things without regard to how those "things" affect people around them. I can't tell you how many neighbors I've met with rude kids, loud dogs, big SUV's and generally no manners what so ever. Their dog could poop in my yard and they don't even care. THAT is because they think they are better than those around them and are again, "entitled". That's the magic word, because it's true of many dog owners. We have someone 3 houses down that tried to raise 7 huge dogs because again it was about THEM. Not the neighbors because they think they are better. They couldn't think deep enough to figure out that the barking was annoying, and the dogs couldn't figure out that barking wasn't necessary. And along with their attitude is that their dogs are of course better than other peoples pets.

But the main point is that MOST dogs are really stupid as I said. And we hear these stories about dogs being smarter that are likely started not only by dog owners, but by pet store owners wanting to sell dogs because they "fetch" a higher price. Stories about how some of the very smartest dogs can do things you wouldn't expect lead these people to go out and buy a dog. But they don't have the understanding to know how to pick onw, so they do what? They buy another stupid pooch which you can bet will be dumber than just about any cat around. They bark, yip, poop, bite, scratch and annoy, all along with the dog again going all over peoples yards. You don't see cats doing dumb things like that. They would actually go in a litter box if you wanted them to. That said, there needs to be some REAL test that are more thorough and test different types of reasoning.

Well, zingwoosh3, using your brilliant criteria of "independence" = intelligence, congratulations; you've just named snakes and fish smarter than cats. LOL!

Zingwoosh3 there are an infinite number of things wrong with what you said. You claim that these scientific tests aren't exhaustive enough and then assert your claim based on only your personal experiences. Its fine that you find dogs to be annoying. They are definitely smellier, louder, make bigger messes, require more attention, drool more, and overall just tend to be more obnoxious. But that doesn't make cats smarter. How can you say that "you've noticed MOST dogs are FAR dumber than cats?" What knowledge do you have to back up your position? Who cares if cats poop in the same spot everyday. You can teach a dog to poop in the same spot everyday too. What can you teach a cat to do? When it comes to most cats, nothing. The fact that cats require less maintenance and don't draw attention to themselves in the way dogs do absolutely does not make cats smarter. It just makes them less annoying. And I'm not a dog lover as I'm sure you'll assume. Just a logic lover.


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