PBS asked experts a question intended to inflame the masses: Which is smarter, a dog or a cat?
A neuroscientist gave the best answer, with some 'measured neuron density shows dogs in the lead' answer.
Breed-specific cognitive and behavioral specialists hemmed and hawed about how every species is special.
No one doubts the raccoons will kill us all.
Beyond dogs and cats, the team found a few surprises among the other animals. For example, the largest animals in the bunch—the hyena, lion and brown bear—had fewer neurons than the smaller ones. Neuroscientists long suggested that brain size might indicate more "braininess." Read: the bigger the brain, the smarter the animal. But Herculano-Houzel's team found that bears had the same number of neurons in their cortex as cats.
Another surprise in their research came from raccoons, those clever masked bandits. The raccoon brain is the size of a cat brain, but it holds as many neurons as a dog's. The ratio of the raccoon's brain size to its number of neurons resembles that of some primate brains.
"The very large number of neurons that we found in the raccoon cortex fits very nicely with the lore about raccoons," Herculano-Houzel said. "It matches with how incredibly ingenious these little creatures are and how good at problem solving they are when it comes to finding food."
Herculano-Houzel's team also looked at neuron numbers in herbivores collected by other groups because they suspected grazing required less energy and brain power, thus fewer neurons. But they found herbivores packed as many neurons as their carnivore counterparts. The same balance applied when they compared domesticated versus wild animals.
As I am trying to write this post my cat has walked all over the keyboard, and bumped me with his head about 10x looking for attention. Cats are bigger assholes than dogs.