New study finds dogs are more than twice as smart as cats

Science has determined which pet is smarter, cats or dogs

It's always been an epic debate between dog and cat owners, but it seems there is a clear victor.

In each of the dogs' brains, despite varying in size, researchers found about 500 million neurons, more than double the 250 million found in the cat's brain.

If an animal has more of these neurons, it would follow that they would be able to engage in more of these activities, so the study-for the first time ever-counted the number of these neurons in the brains of several animals.

There's a new twist in the age-old argument over whether cats are smarter than dogs, or vice versa. "Neurons are the information-processing units in the brain, and the cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that can combine information from different sources and create new associations, recognize patterns, make decisions to act differently based on past experience and start making predictions for the future", Suzana Herculano-Houzel, the Vanderbilt professor who developed the method for measuring neurons, told ABC News. "They have a fairly small brain but they have as many neurons as you would expect to find in a primate ... and that's a lot of neurons".

The study was conducted by researchers from six universities in the US, Brazil, Denmark and South Africa. Humans, by comparison, have around 16 billion. After all, what good is all that brain power if dogs still drink out of the toilet?

Until recently, scientists interested in comparing intelligence across species were limited to using brain size as an indicator.

Herculano-Houzel argues that counting neurons is just one, albeit in her opinion the most effective to date, way to measure intelligence.

The research team has so far focused on studying carnivorous land animals, but they hope to one day study marine mammals.

That's the conclusion of an worldwide team of researchers, who found that dogs possess twice the number of neurons than cats.

Lead Image: Brewster, the akita/pitbull mix, smiles for the camera.

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