Despite what every cat-loving friend has been telling you for years, a new study from Vanderbilt University suggests that dogs are the smarter house pet.
Dogs, it turns out, have about 530 million cortical neurons.
Cortical neurons in the brain aka "little gray cells", are associated with thinking, planning and complex behavior.
She says the higher the number of neurons an animal has, the greater their ability to, in her words, "predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience".
Among their other discoveries during the study, the researchers found that raccoons in particular are quite smart, packing the same number of neurons that a dog has even though its brain size is about the same as a cat's brain.
The researchers analyzed the brains of other animals like lions and hyenas as well, comparing the number of neurons in their brains compared to the size of their brains.
Getty Images Image SourceA kitten and a puppy play together on a lawn in this undated
Just because an animal is bigger and has a bigger brain size, that doesn't mean it has more neurons. The bear is an extreme example. Another oddity is the bear - its brain is about 10 times larger than a cats, but has a similar amount of neurons.
"I would bet money on a large dog over a cat any time", Herculano-Houzel said.
Hunting requires a lot of energy, particularly for large predators, and the intervals between successful kills are unpredictable. As a outcome, the quantity of meat that large hunters can kill and consume and the intermittent nature of feeding appears to limit their brain development. After their evaluation, they found out that animals who had larger brains also tended to have more neurone than the smaller one. But researchers still can't be sure whether dogs are using that capability to its full potential.
Herculano-Houzel herself admits that, while the study was objective, she herself does have a bit of a bias.
"Diversity is enormous", said Houzel. Yes, there are recognizable patterns, but there are multiple ways that nature has found of putting brains together.