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How Dogs are Scientifically Better Than Cats

Domestication versus Taming

Domestication is the process of habituation and adaptation of an animal for use by humans.

Keep in mind this differs from the process of taming, which is the alteration of behavior of animals. Taming does not influence genes that are passed down, rather learned behaviors.

Domestication results in the genetic alteration of animals. The processes of domestication and taming are both used by humans.

Dogs come from their ancestors the wolf; however, our household Fido has genetic distinctions that quantify him as fully domesticated. To contrast, Cats were found to only be semi-domesticated still sharing a lot of the DNA and some of the behaviors of that of their wild counterparts (Montague, 2014).

Prototypical behaviors of cats and dogs are vastly different. Cats will likely scare easily and are not as likely to form strong bonds with humans. Cats usually do not serve as companion animals. It has been found that canines are able to pick up on emotions of their humans, and have some degree of facial recognition processes (Kujala, 2017). 

Research has shown that domestication will have more impact on genetic differences than mere taming. Domestication takes generations and hundreds to thousands of years.

Gyration of Brains

Brain gyration determines the amount of surface area your brain has. More gyri and sulci you have the more surface area available. The more surface area the more neurons. The more neurons the more cognitive capacity. Neuronal number is not an exact measure of intellect or processing power, but it does tend to indicate those creatures have an increased ability to do more complicated tasks. 

In addition to gyration the size of the brain impacts the level of cognitive ability for the creature. 

Cats for example have relatively small brain volumes. That is unsurprising most are not as big as a dog, gyration is relatively lower in cat brains but not statistically significant (Pakozdy, 2015).

How do you measure Intelligence?

IQ

Good question. We don’t even have an unanimous way to measure human intelligence. Some people use Intelligence Quotient (IQ) but this is only an average of someone’s ability to reason based on their age.

This is incredibly hard to determine in non-sentient beings as it requires written or oral language, along with advanced problem solving skills.

Domains of Intelligence

IQ is not the only way to measure intelligence. As a result some intelligence measures look at specific domains, such as music intelligence, arithmetic intelligence, emotional or social intelligence, and so on. Rather than an averaged aggregate score for overall intelligence they have different scores for each one of these domains.

Self Control Test

So for non-human animals it can be difficult to measure their intelligence. Though generally self control tasks are one measure of intelligence for animals. It shows that these creatures recognize that future reward can be more than immediate gratification. This aligns with emotional or socialized intelligence. 

Conclusion

Dogs are more domesticated and therefore tend to be easier at bonding with humans. They are also able to follow commands from humans and have a relative degree of object permanence, facial recognition, and social intelligence.

Cats do not have the same characteristics, but they are better and more ‘intelligent’ at other things

For example cats are natural hunters. They are fantastic at knocking crap off your desk. Cats have a natural steathliness that makes them perfect for doing pest control. They can also still pick up on some emotions of humans. Compared to domesticated as dogs they are not as perceptive. Consequently, they tend to not follow commands as innately as a dog does.

A lot of this all comes down to individual animals in the end. Keeping in mind that there is the age-old argument of nature versus nurture and which is more impactful can be applied here.

I would be interested to hear, do you like Dogs or Cats better? Why do you like that animal more or less than the other? Do you prefer other pets altogether? This is no right answer here.

I look forward to reading your comments!

References

Kamphaus, R. W., Winsor, A. P., Rowe, E. W., Kim, S., Flanagan, D. P., & Harrison, P. L. (1997). A history of intelligence test interpretation. Contemporary intellectual assessment: Theories, tests, and issues, 32-47.

Kujala, M. V. (2017). Canine emotions as seen through human social cognition. Animal Sentience, 2(14), 1.

Montague, M. J., Li, G., Gandolfi, B., Khan, R., Aken, B. L., Searle, S. M., … & Warren, W. C. (2014). Comparative analysis of the domestic cat genome reveals genetic signatures underlying feline biology and domestication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(48), 17230-17235.

Pakozdy, A., Angerer, C., Klang, A., König, E. H., & Probst, A. (2015). Gyration of the feline brain: localization, terminology and variability. Anatomia, histologia, embryologia, 44(6), 422-427.

Van der Maas, H. L., Kan, K. J., & Borsboom, D. (2014). Intelligence is what the intelligence test measures. Seriously. Journal of Intelligence, 2(1), 12-15.

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