Are Cats Smarter Than Dogs?

Which one will win? 😺🐶

An age-old debate between dog and cat lovers: Who’s smarter?

While dog people might assume dogs are smarter because they’re more trainable, cat people will say cats are smarter because they’re *beyond* the need to learn tricks.

The Dodo reached out to Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, a veterinarian and advisor working with Breed Advisor, to find out whether cats or dogs are considered more intelligent.

Are cats or dogs smarter?

Cats and dogs are both intelligent in their own ways, and, according to Dr. Woodnutt, it can be difficult for us as humans to interpret and test animal intelligence.

With that said, dogs may appear smarter than cats to the average person simply based on how much more willing dogs are to learn tricks.

“Dogs are more traditionally trained and have been selectively bred for their ability to learn commands, which makes them smarter than cats when it comes to many human tasks,” Dr. Woodnutt told The Dodo. “However, cats are very capable of learning, too, and many cats can be trained to do jobs just as well as dogs can.”

Can you teach cats tricks?

Some cats will happily learn tricks with the right trainer and training techniques — but don’t expect every cat to want to do it.

“As a species, cats have been bred more for their hunting ability or looks than for intelligence and willingness to please, meaning they can be more difficult to train,” Dr. Woodnutt said. “Cats are often also instinctively suspicious of offered food, which is a key part of training most cats!”

So while it’s absolutely possible to train a cat, you’ll probably want to get in touch with a cat-specific trainer to help you figure out the best strategies possible for your individual cat.

Cat vs. dog intelligence: Does brain size matter?

In general, an average dog probably has a bigger brain than an average cat, but does that automatically mean that dogs are smarter than cats?

According to Dr. Woodnutt, not necessarily! “Brain size and intelligence are not perfectly linked,” Dr. Woodnutt said. “It’s more about the connections within the brain, and you can have fewer connections in a large brain than in a small brain.”

So while dogs typically have bigger brains, that doesn’t mean your dog’s smarter than your cat — they’re both smart in their own ways.

“Don’t forget that it’s hard to measure intelligence — just because a fish can’t do sums doesn’t mean he’s not smart in his own way!” Dr. Woodnutt said. “But how to test that intelligence is more difficult the more different the species is from us.”

So while the age-old debate of who’s smarter probably won’t be solved anytime soon, just know that both species are special and capable of amazing things in their own ways — like bringing you the best memories (and maybe some headaches) for years to come.