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Who is Smarter – Cats or Dogs?

The ultimate debate!

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Managing Cole and Marmalade’s social media includes answering lots of messages and comments. One we frequently come across asks this question. Who is smarter, cats or dogs? We’ll TRY our best to keep our completely biased opinion out of this comparison. Wink.  

Some studies state that the key to understanding differences between the two species comes down to understanding their relationship to their environment.

When humans began breeding dogs, they realized that these pack animals, evolved from wolves and had great social communication skills. Point to an object and the dog will retrieve it for you. Actions humans viewed as “smart” as a requirement for their environmental needs.

Now, point to an object lying there and tell your cat to bring it to you–*pause for laughter*. Exactly, you get the all-to-common look of utter disdain. Or greeted to the sight of a fluffy butt, tail swishing as they walk away.

Since cats evolved as hunters though, they excel at stalking small animals, such as rodents.

This was the primary reason humans began seeking them as companions. Consider the Great Plague of London in the 1600’s. This was spread by fleas living on rats. Subsequently, the numbers of the infected rose and fell with the introduction and reduction, respectively, of the common house cat. These cats didn’t just lay around sleeping, they literally saved humanity!

But that’s just our opinion.

Recently, research scientists have reported on testing that focused on cats and dogs brains. It was the number of cortical neurons found in each. These are the neurons associated with thought, planning and complex behaviors. The nerve cells send information to and from your brain to the rest of your body.

Dogs have over 525 million, cats over 240 million and for comparison sake, humans have approximately 16 BILLION ~ WE WIN!

But in all seriousness, just because these cortical neuron numbers are considered “intellectual” traits, does that make it truth? I can definitely think of some animals that maaaaaay be smarter than some humans!

Photo: Cole and Marmalade & Cat Man Chris – JK Love ya babe!
Photo: Cole and Marmalade & Cat Man Chris – JK Love ya babe!

Everyone’s opinion of what is “smart” differs, and many of us have lived our lives with cats AND dogs.

I was raised with a German Shepard mix named Dutchess. She would patiently wait as little toddler me pulled myself up and held onto her side. We would then slowly waddle along together–this is basically how I learned to walk.

Photo: Jessica Josephs

Later in life, my family had a Black Lab, Kelly. She would “play shy” by covering her eyes with her paw on command. Eventually she would howl-talk that sounded like “I love you”! These are absolutely intelligent actions, whether reinforced by treats or not.

Photo: Jessica Josephs

Chris’s family in England also consisted of 2 handsome lil chaps, Joe and Spike. You may have seen a cameo or two from this duo in our videos! (Video links at end of article)

Photo courtesy of Gillian Poole

Cats too are trainable, as litter boxes and going on walks with harnesses/leashes show us.

Admittedly so, this is probably 99% food driven, but we have to question this…is it more shrewd to have trained US to do their bidding for them? Work smarter, not harder? They do care enough to thank us by bringing gifts using their wits. If you’re a cat owner, you know the type of “gifts” we’re referring too. 

Whichever study may have more accurate or proven “facts”, it is comparing apples to oranges in our opinion. Regardless of which side you pre-fur, we love them all and are just grateful to have our furry, 4-legged companions in our lives…Canine or Feline!



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