Cats vs. Dogs: Who Has the Higher IQ?

Dogs may be responsive to our commands, but does this make them more intelligent than cats? Discover the truth as we explore the intelligence of each.

Mar 28, 2023By Donna Hobson
cats vs dogs higher iq

When pet owners are questioned whether dogs or cats are more intelligent, many owners will say that dogs have a higher IQ. This is probably because we can teach dogs to perform tricks more quickly than cats, and they can perform complex tasks, such as sniffing out bombs. However, this hypothesis may not paint a complete picture.

Compare the average IQ of cats and dogs as we learn how these two species demonstrate their intelligence. Examine the skills that each animal possesses and make your own decision about which is truly the most intelligent.

What Is the Average IQ Of a Cat?

ginger cat sitting next to a pile of books
Beige cat starring at a pile of books

Cats are often seen as mysterious and aloof creatures, but just how intelligent are they? Recent studies have shown that cats have an average IQ of 100, the same as toddlers aged 2-4. This means that cats can learn and understand more than we often give them credit for.

Cats can quickly learn word and object associations, showing that they can understand their environment and the people around them. They also possess problem-solving skills, which allow them to figure out how to get what they want or need. In addition, cats can remember past experiences and use this knowledge to make decisions in the future.

This problem-solving ability means that cats will often try to overcome challenges alone rather than look to their humans for assistance.

Additionally, cats possess a better sense of hearing than other pets and can smell scents undetectable to the human nose - such as pheromones.

What Is the Average IQ Of A Dog?

dog wearing glasses and sitting next to a pile of books
Glasses wearing beige golden retriever sitting in front of a pile of books

The average IQ of a dog is estimated to be around 100, which is similar to the intelligence of a cat. This means that a dog's IQ equates to that of a 2-4-year-old child, though it can vary depending on the breed. Dogs can also learn new skills and commands, so their intelligence can be improved with proper training.

Still, it's important to remember that these "IQ tests" measure intellectual abilities alone; a dog's social intelligence and emotional ability may correlate with a much older human, especially when considering the close bonds that dogs can form with their humans.

Dogs show their intelligence in various ways, from obedience to understanding humans and emotional connections. Dogs can display complex emotions such as jealousy and possess an impressive ability to learn new tasks quickly and accurately. They also have a remarkable memory, which allows them to remember commands for long periods.

Are Animal IQ Tests Accurate?

dog wearing glasses and sitting on a book
Book reading dog

Measuring the intelligence of animals can be a complex task. IQ alone is not enough to accurately assess the intelligence of an animal. Other factors such as self-awareness and control, memory, decision-making abilities, problem-solving skills, and social behaviors should also be considered.

To measure the intelligence of animals accurately, we need to look at these other factors in addition to their IQ scores. We must observe their behavior and interactions with their environment to understand how they make decisions and solve problems. By doing so, we can better understand what makes them intelligent and how they compare to humans in terms of cognitive abilities.

As Einstein once said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid,” which is particularly relevant when it comes to the intelligence of animals. Measuring these creatures on human scales will not necessarily paint a clear picture of their true abilities; only through careful observations and learning more about each species can we truly understand their intelligence.

Which Are Smarter: Cats or Dogs?

black cat wearing glasses and a tie
Dark grey cat with blue tie and black glasses

We often think that dogs are more intelligent than cats because they are easier to train, but cats are just as capable of learning new skills as dogs; you can teach them to use a litter tray, play fetch, open doors, and even learn how to walk on a leash. In addition, they have a better overall memory than dogs. In some scenarios, their memory can be 200 times better than a dog's, which means they can quickly learn to respond to prompts if they lead to rewards.

These two animals possess a similar IQ of about 100 (comparable to a 2-4-year-old human), but they display their smarts differently. Cats are better at solving complex problems, such as pushing boxes into specific locations while waiting for treats to fall out. Still, dogs can comprehend a human's gaze more easily and will respond if you point to an object (in comparison, cats struggle to understand what you're doing when you point at an object).

Dogs have almost twice as many neurons in the cerebral cortex as cats do. This part of the brain is responsible for processing sensory information, forming memories, reasoning, learning, thinking, decision-making, and intelligence.

It is also involved in higher-level functions such as language and consciousness. The cerebral cortex helps us to understand the world around us and make sense of it. It allows us to think abstractly and make decisions based on past experiences. In short, it is the most crucial part of our brain that enables us to function as human beings.

But cats are better at solving logical problems such as finding their way home, thanks to their keen senses. They can use smell alone to locate food and water, and they can identify other cats and animals by sniffing them.

There is an ongoing debate about which of these two animals is the most intelligent. On the one hand, cats have well-developed brains and impressive sensory abilities but can be aloof. Whereas dogs are loyal and obedient creatures who like to please humans - this makes them easier to train and more responsive to our commands.

Donna Hobson
By Donna Hobson

Donna believes that keeping a pet is the key to a happy life. Over the years, many creatures have passed through her home - Sooty the cat, Millie the rabbit, Stuart (Little) the guinea pig, and Trixie the tortoise, alongside her pet goldfish, Zippy, who lived to the grand old age of 24 years! She currently resides with her black kitten Jinx and an aquarium full of fish and snails to entrance them both. When she is not looking after her pets, Donna enjoys researching and writing the answers to all your pet-related wonders.