Dogs Are Smart – How about Cats? (Jun, 1930)

I can’t speak for other people’s cats but mine is just stupid.

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Dogs Are Smart – How about Cats?

Your Pet May Be too Proud to Learn—or Just Stupid. Science Is After the Truth


Department of Psychology, Columbia University

Are cats as smart as dogs? Judging from the experimental evidence so far secured, the answer is an emphatic “No.” In many scientific tests the dog has proved his superior intelligence. And if the question were put to a popular vote, there is small doubt that the dog would score an overwhelming victory.

But science is not yet ready to hand the dog the palm. The reason is that the cat possibly has not had a fair show. Because the dog is a gregarious, sociable animal that loves its master, is eager to please him, and is fond of praise, it is much easier for it to demonstrate its intelligence than it is for the cat. Solitary by nature and habit, indifferent to its master’s attitude and praise, the cat is difficult to “draw out.”

Now, however, the cat is going to have its day. In the psychology laboratory of Columbia University, New York City, experiments are under way to find out how smart cats really are. Novel and ingenious, the apparatus used in the elaborate tests resembles the combination of a safe in principle. The question is: Can a cat learn to “open the safe” and, if so, in how many tries?

This is how it is done: Three round, flat, wooden plates are set in the floor. They are wired so as to act like electric buttons. Arranged like a safe combination, they open the door of a food box when stepped upon in the right order. For example, the “combination” may be set so that, to get at the milk in the box, the hungry cat must step first on plate No. 1, then on No. 2, then on No. 3. The combination may be 3, 2, 1 or 3, 1, 2.

The tests are conducted in the Columbia animal laboratory under the direction of Professor Carl J. Warden, of the psychology department. It is planned to use the same type of device later for experiments with dogs, monkeys, and other animals.

In previous comparative tests of cats and dogs, the cat has always lost out.

There was, for instance, the experiment made some years ago by Dr. Edward L. Thorndike, a pioneer in animal experimentation, who is now professor of educa-tion in Columbia. Professor Thorndike tried to find out which animal could manage to escape most quickly from a box. Food in sight but out of reach was placed outside the bars. Each hungry animal could release itself from the box when, by random efforts, it happened to strike the latch that operated the door. Though this comes under the head of a mechanical problem, in the solution of which cats have shown some aptitude, dogs turned in a better performance in practically every test.

A wholly different type of experiment, devised by Dr. Walter S. Hunter, professor of psychology in Clark University, Worcester, Mass., aims to determine how long the animal can stick to a fixed plan of action. The apparatus consists of an entrance chamber facing three food boxes. First the animal is put through a training period in which it learns that the box with a light at the entrance is the one that will open. After the connection between light and food is thoroughly established, the real test begins.

THE light is turned on and the animal, seeing it through a wire netting, prepares to run to the proper box as soon as it is released. But now the light is turned off and the animal kept waiting for a short while. How long can it remember which box was the lighted one? Cats remembered for sixteen to eighteen seconds; dogs for one to three minutes. Moreover, in order to remember at all, the cat must keep its head and body pointed toward the box. A dog can turn away and still, in the majority of cases, choose correctly.

Apparently the difficulty for the cat lies in the use of a signal, which requires abstract reasoning. In more recent experiments, the cat saw the food itself placed in the box and the signal was discarded. Now she could remember the right door 67 times out of 100 for periods up to sixteen hours. Unfortunately for the sake of comparison, this modified method was not tried on dogs.

IX ANOTHER still more complicated test, worked out by the well-known animal psychologist, C. V. Hamilton, the dog also defeated the cat. Four doors are provided in the apparatus used in this experiment, all of them leading to food. These doors are kept shut, but one is unlocked for each trial. In no case, however, is the same door unlocked twice in succession. Therefore, the correct method of solution is to try the three remaining doors one after the other. The incorrect way is to try the door that was open before, or to try any door more than once. How did the dog and cat compare in their ability to solve this puzzle? In an equal number of attempts, the dog required 313 trials and the cat 352. Incidentally, the monkey proved smarter than either dog or cat, with a score of 291. That the test is not as easy as it may seem was shown by the fact that a mature person needed 201 trials.

Then there is the question of learning to understand human speech. In this respect, the dog’s superiority is unmistakable, though whether this is due to intelligence or is merely a reflection of the greater interest that dogs take in people has not yet been settled. After sixty trials, Professor Thorndike succeeded in teaching a cat to climb to the top of her cage for food when he said: “I must feed that cat.” To teach it not to climb at the words “I will not feed her” required 380 trials. But even so, the cat would climb in response to any other remark that was uttered, such as “Nice weather we are having,” or “Tomorrow is Tuesday.”

On the other hand, Professor Warden and Dr. L. H. Warner, experimenting with the famous dog Fellow in the Columbia psychology laboratory (P. S. M., Feb. ’29, p. 25), found that he was able to carry out fifty-three simple commands without a single error.

SO MUCH for scientific experimentation, in which neither animal ever comes up to its popular reputation for smartness. The reason for this may be that a good many laboratory tests, especially the earlier ones, failed to give either dog or cat a fair chance to demonstrate its real ability.

It is outside the laboratory that both dog and cat give their most impressive demonstrations of cleverness. And in the mass of anecdotes gathered by reliable investigators, the dog again comes out an easy winner.

Still, there are a number of apparently well-authenticated stories relating amazing instances of the smartness of cats. The English naturalist George J. Romanes, zoological secretary of the Lin-nean Society of London, England, tells of a cat whose master was in the habit of throwing out crumbs for the birds. The cat would hide in the shrubbery and attempt to pounce upon the birds as they ate. On one occasion, the crumbs were strewn in the evening. During the night they were covered by a light fall of snow. In the morning the owner saw the cat brushing away the snow and removing the crumbs to another spot, where it put them on top of the snow! Then it hid in the bushes and waited for the birds. This trick for the pack, it follows him faithfully and grieves in his absence. A cat that would follow its master would be a rare exception, though it sticks to familiar territory and hates a change of scene.

This also explains the obedience of the dog and its sense of responsibility. Being a gregarious animal, it seems to accept an outside standard of right and wrong conduct and to understand what is expected of it. When it breaks a rule, instead of being indifferent, it reveals its guilt unmistakably and will bear punishment. Even if the punishment is severe, it is so dependent upon its master’s company that it is usually willing and even anxious to be friendly again. The cat seems to have no ability to accept responsibility, and if punishment is attempted will either fight or flee.

THE emotional expression of the two animals also is almost exactly reversed, so that the same act may have quite a different meaning depending on which animal is studied. For example, a dog wags its tail as a sign of friendliness, but a cat wags or lashes its tail only when it is angry. Erection of the tail means excitement for the dog, as in pointing game or meeting a challenge, but the cat’s tail goes up when it seems most amiable, as when rubbing against its master’s leg.

Caress a dog and it sinks down with tail lowered, but stroke a cat and it stands upright. In fear, the dog goes flat to the ground, while the cat arches its back to such an angle that the fore and hind feet almost touch. In hunting, the dog prefers daylight, roams freely, and covers a wide territory; the cat as a rule lies silently in wait to pounce on its prey as it passes.

One physical characteristic the dog and cat seem to have in common—there is strong evidence that both are color blind. Though they can very often distinguish between colored objects, this is due not to the difference in color but to difference in brightness. The dog also is handicapped in vision by farsightedness. Since the retina of both animals lacks a fovea, or area of clear vision, it is probable that they see only vague shapes without the sharp outlines of human vision. If there is any advantage as to vision, it seems to lie with the cat. In hearing, however, and also in the ability to distinguish between faint odors, the dog is markedly superior.

THE dog has a larger brain than the cat, but it is the larger animal. In terms of capacity for training, such as minding sheep, carrying packages, standing guard, doing tricks, and so on, the dog again has a marked advantage. But is this due to greater intelligence or merely to a greater willingness to cooperate? The cat may not be interested in jumping through a hoop to please the teacher. On the other hand, it simply may not be smart enough. The present experiments at Columbia may furnish a definite answer.

  1. Don says: January 8, 20088:27 am

    Our cat is VERY smart; she has staff (us) waiting on her day and night, and all she has to do is eat, sleep, poop and play . . . and be cute once in a while.

  2. jayessell says: January 8, 20089:37 am

    Just wait until Caturday!

  3. galessa says: January 8, 20089:43 am

    your cat is hardly stupid. he just won’t bother trying to communicate with inferior species if they don’t make a effort first. just try it. you’ll be amazed. =D

  4. Jerry says: January 8, 200811:10 am

    This article is really a testament to the persistence of anthropomorphic thinking. The researchers in the article propose to test how “intelligent” an animal is (that is, how much human-like behavior it demonstrates) by putting it in a series of highly artificial situations. How often in nature is either a cat or dog required to remember which box had a signal light?

  5. Rossy says: February 23, 200810:50 am

    “Our cat is VERY smart; she has staff (us) waiting on her day and night, and all she has to do is eat, sleep, poop and play . . . and be cute once in a while”

    about time to decide which one is the inferior species? just maybe.

  6. Jim says: March 10, 20088:43 am

    Regardless of which is smarter, cats have no worth beyond being cute and mildly entertaining when they chase a string/shoelace.

    I think they are adorable, but having a good dog around is comforting in all the same ways as a cat and then some. All in all I think it comes down to the people. Less social folks tend to like cats, because cats are not very social. Dogs being pack animals are social by nature. If you don’t like going for walks, you won’t like a dog either, because they love/need them. In general dogs are just more work then cats, especially initially.

    I had never owned a dog until recently (four cats growing up), and am so grateful for the experience. She brightens up my days that’s for sure. Though one of my cats was very important to me, most of the others we jerks. I loved them, but in a more wary way, as they seemed to care less about whether I lived a happy life or just spontaneously combusted.

    I used to be a huge proponent of cats. However, now that I have owned a dog, I can almost assuredly say I will own dogs for the rest of my life, and leave the cats to themselves. Which is where they seemed to want to be the whole time I knew them anyway.

  7. Ben Cawley says: August 10, 20087:17 pm

    i have met many cats and dogs because almost all my friends have them. I believe the dog to be more empathetic, more cunning, more resilient(minded and physically). Also they are less lazy, have a better temperament and are more useful in groups than cats. The dog is the superior species in every way except perhaps beauty.

  8. Don says: August 11, 20088:50 am

    But dogs don’t purr.

  9. Jeff Doehring says: September 16, 200810:33 am

    The one thing that researchers here are not mentioning is that cats and dogs are motivated differently. In a dogs eyes, the main purpose in life is to please their master. Cats are not motivated by this desire, but rather, they are motivated by their own instincts, that being survival. Cats do learn very quickly by trial and error, and cats do have long and short term memory very similar to humans. In this area, cats are for more bright than dogs.

  10. Jay says: November 21, 20089:11 pm

    I have one thing to say about this.

    I was once walking home from a shopping center on a fairly busy street. Across the street was housing development. As I neared the corner I saw a cat crouching there near the curb. Not wanting to scare it into traffic, I stopped a few feet away and watched to see what it was up to.

    I was absolutely blown away about what I saw next. When the cat realized I wasn’t coming any closer, it cat got into a pouncing position, looked to the left, looked to the right, and proceeded to do so a few more times, and when it saw no cars were coming it darted across the street to the houses.

    It was the only cat I have ever seen do this. I’ve never seen a dog look both ways before crossing the street unless it was specifically trained to do so.

    I’m inclined to believe the cat came upon this on it’s own.

  11. Mitchy says: December 20, 20082:34 am

    Cats are smart but in a mysterious cat way.

    I slowed my car down late one night to let a cat continue to cross the road. As I drove slowly past it looked at me as if to say thanks.

  12. Joe says: January 3, 20094:26 pm

    I have 3 cats and we live on a busy street. Somehow all of them learned to look both ways and run quickly when there are no cars. We are down 1 dog hit while blindly bolting into traffic and our other dog, well we watch him very closely on the street side of the house because he has the same tendancies. When it comes to surving without people I put my money on the cat.

  13. Steve says: May 13, 200912:42 am

    These animals are so different its not funny. The dog is truly domesticated and therefore relies upon humans for survival. The cat is not truly domesticated but rather tame. If you release your cat into the wild it will almost instantly revert back to being feral and able to hunt and survive on its own. A dog will look for another human to satisfy its needs, even stray dogs still go and eat people’s garbage.

    It is really hard to say which animal is actually smarter. The dogs outperformed the cats on all the lab tests. But then cats seem to understand how to cross a street a lot better without getting hit. I don’t know whether that’s because the cat is smarter or simply its more wild nature gives it better survivability instincts, therefore making it make sure the path is clear before taking off.

  14. CrazyCat says: December 6, 200912:54 am

    Cats ARE intelligent. Dogs are just more loyal and sociable, while cats live their lives by the Rule of Cats: Whatever to stay alive. There are cases where cats abandon this rule. But, when you think about it, will a cat who doesn’t care about what people think of it, its only care is to be alive, do you really think it is going to WANT to do well in a LAB, doing EXPIREMENTS, being bossed around by HUMANS? It’s like work: Don’t do what you aren’t gonna want to live with.

    Cats are VERY smart.

  15. desinence says: December 18, 20091:47 am

    Some things have been left out on this collection of research such as the fact that cats have more neurons in their cortex than dogs, though it does not definitely mean they are smarter, it does make it more likely.

    As far as hunting, cats stalk and ambush, where dogs immediately charge forward. On the dog’s part, he is of one mind focused on his target relying solely on his physical prowess to take down his pray. On the cat part, it seems as though the animal is trying to minimize all chances of failure by expending its energy at the last possible minute, ie. the dog has already expended a considerable amount of energy getting to its prey which will attempt to flee long before the dog reaches it, if at all. This may be due to the fact that dogs are typically pack hunters, and thus such a coordinated approach would be too complicate. This also would lead me to believe why dogs are more likely to be hit by cars.

    One last thing, cat’s show affection by bringing live prey to you, to add to this they also tend to play with their food. as sadistic as this sounds, it is to my knowledge done only by the most intelligent species of animals.

    most research on this subject has been poorly done and is difficult due to the cat’s nature being less dependent on others. As an owner of numerous cats and dogs, i would have to say breed plays as much into cat intelligence as it does with dogs. I have taught a few of my cats to play fetch, use the toilet, beg, speak, turn on lights(blue eyed Siamese have poor night vision), etc., and though many times less successful than dogs teaching them these skills to the many cats i’ve had, the ones that did learn did so with much more precision than any canine. In my experience i would have to say my opinion is for Cats as far as intelligence goes, which is probably why they are so often more annoying than dogs.

  16. a says: January 18, 20106:39 am

    This report is 80 yrs old. Experiments taken place since have actually placed the intelligence of a cat far greater than that of a dog.

  17. James M says: March 27, 20106:58 pm

    The belief that cats are anti-social is completely wrong. Cats are very social, especially to their owners. My cat always follows us around the house and purrs when he is petted, likes to sleep on our beds, and if we leave him alone too long and come back home he will nuzzle us and purr in joy of our return. Just because they don’t follow us around like mindless goons all day obeying our every command doesn’t make them antisocial. Humans, like cats, are social but also respect their alone time as well.

    I love dogs and cats, but find cats to be more observant and have a better concentration span than dogs. Cats observe their environment around them intently and use their observations for their survival. Cats are very independent and use litter boxes, clean themselves, and require very little maintenance to own. In the wild, they are much more crafty and resilient than canines and can hunt and survive on their own.

    Most people who don’t own cats and don’t observe them daily don’t have the opportunity to observe the rich behaviors, personalities, intelligence, and sense of dignity and pride that cats command. I was the same way before getting my cat.

  18. Michael Bitter says: April 6, 20105:06 pm

    Are cats smarter than dogs or vice versa? I think that the two are both equally as intelligent in their own ways. I have a cat that is very intelligent. He tries to open doorknobs, knows how to stalk birds, plays fetch and can dupe me into letting it out in to the yard. He is quite affectionate (on his terms) and has a quality of living that is enviable to the richest human.
    I took care of a dog once. She was the smartest animal I ever met. She was protective and grateful for the attention I paid to her. She learned very quickly that the cat was my animal and to give it its space.

    I guess my point here is that whichever companion animal you have the pleasure of keeping, both animals can make you very happy.

    One note about cats: They smell much better when they come in after the rain

  19. peine says: April 8, 20105:16 pm

    Dogs are freakin better than cats
    cuz im a redneck and i say so

  20. Toronto says: April 8, 20108:34 pm

    You know a pet that’s amazingly smart? A Hermit Crab (only don’t have just one – they get lonely.) Mine have been known to pile things up on top of each other to escape out of a container. They’re also masters of hiding when they make a break for it (they do that, given the chance, from time to time.) They’re not the cuddliest things, though, and they suck at fetching things.

  21. Christopher says: April 11, 20105:03 am

    I have to say that a test using a dry food is simply better suited for a dog. Cats are better at showing their ingenuity using a moving target. It’s a matter of interest. It doesn’t take anything more than a bowl of food to grab a dogs attention. But put a bird or bug on the other side of those bars and watch a cat find a way! It’s more worthwhile for them. I’m a dog and cat lover. There is no denying that both are equally intelligent, each in their own way. My dog and cat are just as loyal to me. Both sit by/on me. Greet me when I get home. And are both social. Yeah, my cat is only social with people she gets to know first. Which is always a good idea! I sometimes wish I’d gotten to know someone before I was social with them!! And they both respond to my voice, both get close to the phone and rub/lick/meow/bark when I call my friend who watches them when I’m out of town. And they both know “Lets go to bed!”, “Stay!” and “Dinner!”… My dog gets her leash when I say “Pot Pot!”. (she didn’t respond to “let’s go out!”, but you say pot pot and she goes nutty!!).

    As for tricks… I’m with the cat, who wants to cater to humans just to entertain them?? Perhaps she finds it demeaning to respond to commands being barked at her! My cat does tricks that please HER, such as turning on the TV at night and while I’m at work to keep herself amused (or whatever the reason, I’m just guessing!). Or turn on the faucet if she’s thirsty. But, my dog is my best friend and protector. Ive never seen my cat maneuver between me and someone threatening me! But my little dog has! And my cat keeps the place bug and rodent free!

    So… Have one of each… Makes for a nice little family. They’ll both contribute different things to your life and teach YOU a few things!

  22. Iris says: May 17, 20104:56 am

    I think cats are very smart. I had a cat once, it always look to the left and then the right when it was crossing the road, and my other cat did too. My other cat which I got later opened doors to get to me or my dad, sometimes it sat at the table, without trying to dig into the food , it just sat there like us. I could say “come here” and it would. We never trained our cat, but we are very aware of their intelligence and their behavior.

    It showed love, jumping on our laps and stand on two feet to lick us on the chin or stroking it’s face to ours.

    I don’t have a cat now, but there are a couple in my neighborhood. Once, when I was walking from my home to my friend, I met the cat outside my door, it just talked to it and said “come”. And it followed me all the way to my friends doorstep, then it left. This has happened a couple of times with other cats too. You have to know how to bound with them, otherwise they wont bound to you.

  23. Mr. Grievous says: July 3, 20107:48 pm

    One commenter wrote:
    “Regardless of which is smarter, cats have no worth beyond being cute and mildly entertaining when they chase a string/shoelace.”

    Interesting choice of words. I wonder what worth a lion, rhinoceros, or bald eagle has any worth aside from “looking cool.” It is obvious this person meant “worth to humans.” But then the very fact that the cat has been domesticated and bred for thousands of years would counter that argument fairly quickly. Surely our early ancestors, for whom survival was the most pressing matter of the day, had more on their minds for the use of cats than simply finding something to snuggle with. And while cats as sources of food and clothing might be two more reasons humans have found to keep the little guys around even in some countries today (same goes for dogs), the cat’s hunting prowess has often been useful to the protection of crops and grain, and many other goods during transport, as well as eradication of disease bearing rodents. Cats during the Black Death epidemic were often blamed by superstitious folk as being the demonic source of the disease and subsequently killed rather than being heralded as the right heroes to find and capture the real culprits – rats. How useful are cats? Let’s just say that if Europeans had allowed cats to reign free in houses and on the streets the chances of 75-200 million people dying would have been greatly reduced. Even rat-catching breeds of dogs such as terriers are no match for the mighty cat.

    And finally, it has been scientifically proven that the docile cat is the perfect pet for elderly people in convalescence. Both dogs and cats have been used as therapy for elderly people suffering from ailments ranging from strokes to Alzheimer’s. And while the more spry individuals may be able to enjoy the fun of playing with dogs many people have shown benefit and improvement simply by having a cat fall asleep in their lap, something they enjoy and which their body weight allows them. It seems even old and “worthless” cats have their worthiness restored when it comes to the elderly, as both partners have nothing but time to relax and enjoy while the cat’s limited necessities prove ideal for the nearly immobile. As someone else here said, cats purr. Some research even suggests this act is often used by cats to communicate with humans and subsequently focus our attention on the animal – even if the attention sought is merely an invitation to relax together. Again, for an elderly person, especially one recovering from an ailment, this may be just the sort of invitation they need.

    Sadly, some people think an animal is only worth what it can do for you, even if that need fulfillment is only an ideal. “Yes,” some argue, “a dog can protect your home and hunt with you.” There are an estimated 77 million dogs owned by people in the U.S. Even if we estimated that every 5 dogs were belonged to one household – that means that 16 million people are out there hunting with their dogs and being protected by security hounds from armed gunmen. There are an estimated 14 million hunters in this country. I doubt every one of them takes a dog along, let alone a team of dogs like some 19th century Lord. And if armed burglars entered my home MY DOG might just as well run away or go hysterical and most likely get shot. It’s true though. History has proven him completely useless as a guard dog – and he’s fairly big, too. Most dogs aren’t built to protect and are so far removed from the necessity to hunt that they have not the skills.

    So what does that mean? Most dogs are useless? No! They’re pets. They are a part of your family. Imagine someone told you your kids were worthless because they can’t possibly provide for you now or when you retire (ah, but the cat will be there for you in your old age – and besides, a cat can live a pretty long time).

  24. JMyint says: July 4, 20109:43 am

    My six year old granddaughter and one of our cats has a game. She taught the cat to fetch and the cat will bring its little stuffed mouse to her to start the game.

  25. yvonne says: July 14, 20105:15 pm

    the devil is in the difference and the details thereof. cats, dogs and humans have very different survival strategies and from my intuition is that dogs and humans have more of these strategies than either species do with cats. cats it seems to me are inherently reflective. instinct aside they must be to accomplish some of their bolder feats. my small female cat kills large rats with astonishing concentration and wickedly judged application of her teeth and retractable claws. i am reminded of a famous scientist who when asked how he achieved his discoveries replied: i thought of nothing else. this man was a genius but his inability to think of anything else might by the criteria of laboratory intelligence tests just as well be an idiot. Imagine an indifferent and inscrutable Einstein in a cage being set a test of which he takes not a jot of notice and then when the pesky laboratory assistants turn out the lights for the evening to go home settling down for the evening to formulate the theory of relativity. one other thing that strikes me is that we all, whatever species we are survive so that we can exist on our own terms. this business of teaching tricks is just that and very little can be inferred from it without understanding the intrinsic nature of the animal. if a cat were smarter than a dog by the standards of the limiting tests we set them wouldn’t that just make the cat a smarter dog?

  26. Quinn says: September 30, 20102:14 pm

    this proves nothing cats do things when they fell like it and also just because dogs can do tricks doesn’t mean they’re smarter. You could ask the dumbest persons on earth to get through a hoop. It proves nothing

  27. Shawn says: October 2, 201011:33 am

    I love the very obvious cat people here. “Cats are smart, you just can’t tell!” The simple fact is that without DIRECT human interference, dogs have empirically proven themselves to be more intelligent than cats.

    Having owned three dogs and two cats, I’m gonna say dogs appear to be MUCH smarter, and at the very least are definitely more social and loyal than cats. Cats are great for people who just want a PET and don’t mind an animal in their house that does not care for their human counterpart. Dogs, however, are the clear choice for any person who wants an animal COMPANION that will pursue not only its own happiness but that of its owner as well.

  28. Jeff Doehring says: October 2, 20107:39 pm

    Without human interference, a cat will have a 90% chance of surviving in the wild on their own. Dogs are pack animals, and without the pack, have a very difficult time taking their survival rate down to about 40%.

  29. Jari says: October 3, 20109:40 am

    Jeff: Maybe in more southern latitudes. Up here, 60°N or so with snowy winters, it’s 0% for cats and possibly 10% for dogs, depending on breed.

    On a lighter note about their respective intelligence, try to make 8 cats to pull a sled in -30C 😉

  30. eiznekcam says: April 15, 201110:34 am

    I used this as a glogster link and my cats are intellegent to. they feel the need to protect me as well this is why when ever i go upstairs to take a shower they follow me and stand in the shower with me thinking i need help.

  31. John says: April 15, 201111:15 am

    eiznekcam: Cats standing in the shower? If I understand you correctly and the shower is running then I’m not sure the word intelligent (or “intellegent”) applies.

  32. alex says: May 30, 20111:36 pm

    definitely worth a read http://animals.howstuff…
    kind of has the opposite view this article does.

  33. Cats not quite that smart in general says: June 2, 20112:39 pm

    So many whining cat lovers. I like how the big cat claim to fame in the comments is that they successfully cross the street after looking both ways. Have you thought some of it has to do with more experience and the fact they are often free to roam streets while dogs are unable to due to local laws? They have ample opportunity to learn such behavior.

    It’s a dumb debate to begin with, but all the personal anecdotes being displayed as evidence by cat people makes me question their intelligence. Great, YOUR cat as far as you see it in your own biased way is super smart, learns all commands, does your taxes for you, and is super protective and loving in your family. The problem is in a more objective analysis in a wider population of representatives of the species this was not deemed to be the case. Perhaps the analysis was flawed in someway, I don’t know. I really don’t care about your own individual cat experiences as you see them because that means practically NOTHING as far as relating to the topic.

    I’m glad your cats make you happy and feel like you are an independent thinker just because you own a cat. Wonderful. The only actual compelling evidence anybody has given, which is actually quite good evidence and is overshadowed by all the other ridiculous arguments is the greater quantity of neurons in the cortex.

    As of now, on average, way more evidence of dogs being more intelligent(at least in the self-serving way we typically define it). Maybe cats are secretly super geniuses able to detect dark matter and theorize on the pre big bang theories of the universe and we as humans haven’t reached the point ourselves to be able to utilize this intelligence. Until then, cats to me are just solitary animals with a good prey drive, ambush instinct that occasionally when they are in the mood, look for attention from humans. If their intelligence isn’t demonstrable in any meaningful way, why pretend like there is something there that is most likely not. Just appreciate them for what they are, and get over the fact your pet’s intelligence is not as quantifiable as somebody else’s.

  34. Jeff Doehring says: June 2, 20118:16 pm

    Let’s not forget that cats can think at a level of about a 3rd grader. This thinking is mainly in reasoning, and in problem solving (example, opening doors, getting out of enclosed spaces, ect ect). Last I checked dogs think at about the level of a 1st grader. Due to dogs wolf like instincts, they will always be looking for a alpha male to lead them. Without the alpha male, a dog really independently cannot do to much.

  35. Jeff Doehring says: June 2, 20118:36 pm

    How Smart Are Cats?
    Nevertheless, as early as the 1920’s, researchers found that cats can learn complex tasks, especially if the reward is food. And in highly structured tests of learning ability, cats often outperformed dogs in the ability to master conceptual problems. In the 1950’s, animal behaviorist J. M. Warren at Pennsylvania State University at University Park described the cat’s ability to master “oddity learning” in which the animal is shown three objects and is rewarded for selecting the one that is most unlike the other two. In the test, cats learned to paw a square block rather than two round blocks presented at the same time, because food was hidden beneath the square block. In similar tests, the cat chose the different object when presented with one round block and two squares.

    Such tests require the ability to understand concepts, in this case, that of similarity and dissimilarity. Researchers have found that some cats do as well with this type of conceptual learning as monkeys. And, aside from monkeys and other primates, cats are among the most adept at learning by observing the successes and failures of other animals attempting to complete tasks to obtain a reward.

  36. Laughing out loud says: July 10, 201110:25 pm

    This entire web page should be burned, from the ridiculous cult comments to the astounding ignorance of poorly researched article. Needless to say this but; dogs and cats are both smart – shocking -. People generally consider dogs to be more adept because of their need to please their master which therefore persuades them to do what you say. Do some of you honestly consider this to be intelligence? Blindly following orders? I have a dog as well as a cat; and I have to say, a lot of the dog lovers on here just point fingers all-the-while never saying anything at all… Classy people classy.

  37. Charles says: July 13, 201112:55 pm

    Dogs are very smart, but cats are more smart. A dog can bark to open the door, beg for food, do trucks for attention. Alas, the cat knows how to open doors (Or climb inside any other alternative), tear into the bag to get food, and the cat gets attention when he/she pleases. Dogs have the intelligence to cooperate and obey. Cats are strictly free will and wild intelligence. Does not mean the dog is stupid, but it means dogs are ideal to use as tools. Cats are independant creatures, as humans are.

  38. Charles says: July 13, 201112:56 pm

    tricks* – mispelling error on my part

  39. John says: July 13, 201112:56 pm

    Charles » “trucks for attention”? Just driving a car would have gotten my attention!

  40. Charles says: July 13, 201112:58 pm

    Bahahaha yeah if I see a cat driving a truck then its time for a brain scan !

  41. John says: July 13, 20111:32 pm

    Charles » I guess cars don’t impress huh?

  42. Darlene says: February 8, 20125:27 am

    I love my cat. She doesn’t need to be walked, and keeps herself very clean. She communicates with me often, and brings me her toys when she wants to hunt or play fetch. I have a busy lifestyle, and have no time or desire to constantly walk, entertain, or bath a dog. I’ve raised my children already, thanks. I think dogs are fine for people who have the time and patience, but I prefer an animal that is quiet, clean, and able to think and play independently. I put a little time aside each day to talk to and play with her and I am rewarded with purrs and cuddles while I sleep. Cats and dogs are smart in different ways, and suitable for different kinds of people.

  43. Nomen Nescio says: February 8, 20128:05 am

    so much competing over which species has more or less of a quality nobody’s managed to clearly define yet. first tell me, in detail, precisely what “intelligence” is, and then maybe we can figure out a way to measure it uncontroversially even in ourselves — never mind totally different creatures.

    us humans take IQ tests with pen and paper. far as i can tell, these mainly measure how good one is at taking IQ tests. the idea that (human) intelligence is something that could be meaningfully reduced to a single scalar number has not been demonstrated to my satisfaction; again, the term isn’t clearly enough defined to tell.

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