It turns out cartoons lied to us. CatDog, The Jungle Book, Garfield, Animaniacs, and Futurama all portray cats as smugly intellectual, and typically smarter than dogs. This extends to stereotypes of owners as well: cat people are bookish, intellectual, and introverted, while dog owners are jocks. Well, suck it, cat people: dogs are the smart ones. That is, if cortical neuron count is a good indicator of intelligence, but let’s not complicate things with a measured approach to this scientific news. Dogs rule, cats drool (if your cat is actually drooling, go see a vet).
In the past I’ve been a cat owner, and I’m currently a dog owner. Honestly I have no preference, there’s still a little cardboard box in my heart for cats. But I’m fairly convinced dogs are smarter, and we just think cats are smart because they were born with a haughty, aloof expression. When they sit loftily, perched upon a bookshelf as they survey their surroundings with impassive eyes, it seems like they’re thinking deep, important, and possibly evil thoughts. “Live is a pastiche of historical mistakes. Humanity is doomed,” they appear to muse smugly, their internal monologue narrated by Werner Herzog. Really, what’s probably going on in their imperious little heads is faint elevator music, as childish drawings of fish float over the vast, blank space that is their minds.
Dogs, in contrast, seem stupid because of their excitability. Which is a depressing statement on society’s mindset: “This dog seems to love everyone and everything, and embraces life with joy. What an idiot.” I’m not a dogologist, but I suspect that excitability and affection is a sign of intelligence. When you’re excited, they read your body language and get excited. When you’re sad, they read your body language and initiate a cuddling sequence (or in my dog’s case, aggressive licking). Though it seems dopey, that kind of social interaction is probably a pretty sophisticated level of cognition. Just… not quite sophisticated enough to know we don’t want to be licked right after we saw that tongue clean their butt.
Katie has a pet Twitter, dog, and a ghost cat who haunts her dreams.