I CATCUR BY STEVE DALE
WHO’S SMARTER: CATS OR DOGS? It’s the eternal question.
The standard answer is some version
of this: “Dogs do what they’re told,
but cats do what they want; so, cats
are smarter.” Another routine reply:
“We train dogs; cats train us.”
In truth, many dogs don’t do
what they’re told. And cats are by
nature somewhat more indepen-
dent than dogs, but does that make
Dogs are equally adept at training
people as cats. Take a precious puppy
who’s taught to ring a bell to ask to
go out to do his business, who then
quickly learns to ring the bell just to
go outside for fun — even if it’s 4 a.m.
It takes weeks for the “smart” human
to catch on.
Definitions of intelligence vary.
Merriam-Webster describes it as the
ability to learn, understand or to deal
with new or trying situations; the
skilled use of reason; the ability to
apply knowledge to manipulate one’s
environment or to think abstractly as
measured by objective criteria.
Not long ago, definitions of animal
intelligence discounted use of reason,
ability to manipulate the environment, or emotion as playing a role.
According to Charles Darwin,
“Intelligence is based on how effi-
cient a species became at doing
the things they need to survive.”
One might argue that, by this defi-
nition, all species that stay healthy,
remain numerous, and avoid
extinction are equally intelligent.
Perhaps the best definition might
be what my friend, certified cat
behavior consultant and author Beth
Adelman, has said: “Dogs are better
at doing dog things (running a long
distance to follow a scent), and cats
are better at doing cat things (pounc-
ing on an unsuspecting mouse).”
Although I like their answers, I
think both Darwin and Adelman are
sidestepping the answer.
A definition of cat intelli-
gence from 1940 in the Journal of ERI
FORTHE L O V EOFCATS