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

December 9, 2009 |  1:25 pm

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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