Despite what every cat-loving friend has been telling you for years, a new study from Vanderbilt University suggests that dogs are the smarter house pet.
The researchers discovered that dogs possess more neurons in their cerebral cortex, ostensibly allowing them a better capacity for thinking, planning, and complex behavior.
The study found that dogs have about 530 million cortical neurons while cats only have 250 million. (For context, humans have 16 billion.)
This doesn’t necessarily mean that every dog is smarter than every cat. But it does mean that dogs were born with the potential for greater intellectual capability.
“Dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can,” one of the authors of the study, Suzana Herculano-Houzel, said in a statement. “At the least, we now have some biology that people can factor into their discussions about who’s smarter, cats or dogs.”
However, there may have been a point in time when cats were smarter than dogs. A 2010 study from Oxford University claimed that dogs’ brains are continually evolving while cats’ brains haven’t changed since they were domesticated about 8,000 years ago. The study credits this to the fact that dogs are more social than cats. Navigating social relationships requires more gray matter, which the Vanderbilt study confirmed dogs have.