A new study by scientists at Oxford University has shown that dogs have developed bigger brains than cats because of their friendly nature and greater socialization with humans, but does that really make them smarter?
The researchers discovered that there is a link between how socially active an animal is and the size of its brain (in proportion to the rest of its body.) They claim that a dog’s intelligence has evolved at a much greater rate than the less social cat over millions of years and is the result of the extra skills that have developed in order for the dog to evolve into “man’s best friend.”
Cats, by contrast, march to their own drummer and any cat owner knows that “their humans” rush to oblige every anticipated need, grateful for the slightest signal of approval. It was formerly believed that this absence of needing attention was a sign of advanced intelligence, but the Oxford scientists claim they have discovered that the lack of social interaction has left the cat’s brain smaller, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The study analyzed data on the brain and body size of over 500 species of living and fossilized mammals over 60 million years. The brains of monkeys grew the most over time followed by horses, dolphins, camels and dogs—all of which tend to live in stable social groups. The brains of more solitary mammals such as cats, deer and rhino, grew much more slowly during the same period. 'It appears that interaction is good for the brain..," the Telegraph quoted Dr. Susanne Shultz, who led the research, as saying.
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Stanley Coren wrote in Psychology Today regarding an earlier Oxford study, “This means that not only are dogs smarter than cats, but the gap between the species is increasing over time.”
The Wall Street Journal suggests that the real genius of cats may be that they just can't be bothered playing our silly games or giving us the satisfaction of discovering the extent of their intelligence.