A lot of experts assumed that cats are smarter, because they’re more independent, and have twice as many neurons in the brain areas connected to memory and attention. But new research shows that dogs actually have more brainpower. And it’s because they’re more social than cats.

Researchers compared body size to brain size of 500 species of mammals. The result? Animals with smaller brains relative to body size tend to live solitary lives, like cats, deer and rhinos. But animals with bigger brains tend to live in stable social groups, including monkeys, horses, dolphins, and dogs. And the more social an animal is, the larger and more evolved their brain is. Researchers say it’s because living in a group requires cooperation, which is more mentally challenging than solitary living.

In fact, researchers discovered that dogs are so smart – they’re almost as good as human children at solving problems. Like figuring out, if they jump on a chair, they can reach the treat jar. Dogs also have a better memory than cats. In another study, dogs and cats watched a researcher hide a reward in one of four boxes. And after a short wait, they were allowed to search for the treat. The cats that waited – even for just 60 seconds – couldn’t remember where the treat was. But even after four minutes, the dog knew exactly where to find the treat.

Want more proof that dogs are smarter than cats? They can interpret our movements. Think about it: Say you tell a dog to fetch a ball they can’t see. If you gesture to your left, the dog will run left to look for the ball. Scientists say that no other animal can interpret our gestures as quickly and as easily as dogs.

Lesson Expert

Jennifer Boller

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