Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Great Debate: Finally Settled

Check this out. Finally science answer's the question to the age old argument, which is smarter, a dog or a cat?

"December’s New Scientist magazine has answered one of the great questions of our time: Which pet is better, a dog or a cat?
While the science involved in determining which animal is superior is slightly suspect (surely, it is a case of personal preference, no?), writer Kate Douglas went at the question from a scientific angle, formulating 11 categories and rated dogs and cats accordingly.
1. Brains
Dogs have larger brains, but cats have larger brains as compared to their body size. But what’s really important is the number of neurons found in the cortex which indicates information processing capacity. Cats have almost double the number of neurons than dogs at 300 million versus 160 million.
The winner: Cats
2. Shared History
Human life has been intricately bound with the dogs and cats for thousands of years, but which animal was first in our hearts? The latest research seems to show that dogs may have been domesticated as late as 16,000 years ago – notably as food, not companionship. Scientists believe cats only became domesticated by about 9,600 B.C.
The winner: Dogs
3. Bonding
To test how close the emotional bonds are between dogs and humans, dogs were given a “strange situation” test. A dog gets distressed when the owner is absent and the environment is unknown, and happy when the owner returns. Naturally the bond between the dog and the owner is very close.
Cats refused to participate in the test in the first place and were upset when taken out of their own environment, which may say more about their character than their bonding qualities.
The winner: Dogs
4. Popularity
Without digressing and pointing out it’s easier to keep a cat in an urban environment than an Irish Wolfhound, the magazine compares number of animals in the top-10 cat- and dog-owning countries in the world. In pure numbers, the cats win with 204 million felines in those countries versus 173 million dogs.
The winner: Cats
5. Understanding
Dogs can learn to obey verbal commands, hand gestures and discern information from the look on the pet owner’s face. Scientists believe cats are capable of these feats as well but, once again, the cat’s independent nature and lack of motivation prevents scientific data from being compiled. Dogs win this one though we suspect cats could care less.
The winner: Dogs
6. Problem solving
Cats typically refused to participate in this round as well. However, dogs have not done as well in problem-solving tests as compared with their cousins, wolves, whose brains are one-third larger. Yet, when it comes to working dogs that help the blind, sniff out drugs of find trapped humans, there is no comparison. Who ever heard of a Police Feline Unit?
The winner: Dogs
7. Vocalization

Dogs bark and cats purr and it’s obvious which sound is more attractive to the human ear. Scientists believe that cats are using their “solicitation purrs” to bring out the nurturing side of humans. Barking is something that alerts us to danger but doesn’t make us feel as warm and fuzzy.
The winner: Cats
8. Tractability
Tractability, or the ability to be trained, is a quality that dogs excel at. Dogs respond to stimulus and reinforcement and are really interested in making their owners happy. Cats? Meh.
The winner: Dogs
9. Super senses
In the smelling skill area, a bloodhound will top a cat but in fact the average cat has more smell receptors than the average dog. Cats also have better eyes and ears.
The winner: cats
10. Eco-friendliness
A medium-size dog's green eco-print is 0.84 hectares, the area it takes to feed it annually. For cats, it’s just 0.15 hectares. The magazine notes that both pets are menaces to local wildlife such as birds.
The winner: cats
11. Utility
New Scientist has delved into health benefits of owning these pets. Cats can relieve stress when you sit and pet them but walking a dog can add years to your life by lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The winner: dogs
The conclusion: Dogs are better than cats, but just by a hair.
Dog owners can rejoice and cat-owners, like their pets, can simply take no notice at all."

Just as I suspected; dogs are smarter than cats, but good luck trying to get a cat owner to believe it.
courtesy of the Toronto Sun

1 comment:

Kate Douglas said...

This is great--but have got to tell you something funny. I have "google alerts," which tells me when my name shows up on the internet, important to an author when we want to keep track of reviews, blog posts about our books, etc. I saw the link to your blog and clicked--love the article and realized immediately it was another Kate Douglas. I write erotic romance about shape shifting creatures called Chanku who change from human to wolf -- and in some cases, snow leopards -- at will. Sort of like dogs and cats, but not!

Anyway, love the blog post, but really got a chuckle out of the connection that's really not.