Sunday, February 21, 2010


As the owner of both a dog and two cats, there is the thought that crosses my mind at times on who is smarter – a dog or cat?   There are numerous life saving stories and antidotal incidents written about each species.  We hear about dogs sniffing out people buried under rubble and snow; tracking smells to locate people on the run or missing; protecting their human pack from a cougar attack; sniffing out hidden drugs or illegal food products at airports; and using their nose to detect cancer or other serious illness in the body of their owners.   There are also stories about cats waking up their owners because the house is on fire; warning their owners of intruders breaking into their home; and a cat named Oscar who lives in a nursing home in the U.S. who will curl up next to a resident who is going to die.   Oscar gives comfort to those who are going to pass away.

There is also the question of who is smarter -  cat or dog owners?  I just read about a research study done in 2007 by Dr. Jane Murray in the UK.  The study was undertaken to determine the number of cat and dog owners in the UK and identify the characteristics of their owners.  A number of characteristics of cat and dog owners were found including apartment versus house dwellers, rural versus urban, male versus female owners, age of owner, children present and whether the households had the likelihood of owning both dogs and cats.  The most interesting finding was that cat owners tended to have more education than dog owners.   Cat owners were more likely to have university degrees.   

So, are cat owners smarter than dog owners?  I won’t attempt to answer this question as I own both, my friends who just own dogs are all above average intelligence and I have met some cat owners who just don’t get it.  In thinking about cat and dog intelligence, I do think that cats consider themselves to be more intelligent than dogs.  For example there are the sayings “cats rule and dogs drool ” and “cats own you, you don't own them while you do own your dog”. 

One area of shown intelligence in my house is food selection and tastes of the dog and cats.

The dog is pretty easy in his selection of food, of course he is a lab and his stomach rules his life.  He will eat just about anything.  He eats the same dog kibble every day and never makes a fuss.

The cats on the other hand are fussy, particular and require a selection of different canned food.  It is like running a restaurant.  Some days they turn up their noses at a particular flavor or brand of food and send back their plate to the kitchen for something else.   I never know  - je ne sais quo.

I think the cats have things figured out and are more demanding – my cats are higher maintenance.  Are they smarter or more manipulative?


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