My Pet World: The cat, dog 'who's more intelligent' debate rages on

November 16, 2010|By Steve Dale

Q: Don't you think it's about time you just came out and told the truth — that cats are smarter than dogs? -- H.J., New York City

A: Defining intelligence between species is challenging. (I can hear you now: "He's copping out.") Well, maybe I am. I will say that when I speak at veterinary conferences, as an introduction to one of my talks I ask if listeners think dogs or cats are smartest, or if they feel they're about the same. Around 30% say they're about the same; 30% bark for dogs, and about 40% yowl for cats.

No doubt, the world's authority on this topic is actress and animal lover Betty White. After all, she's lived with cats for all of her nearly 89 years.


"So many people don't understand cats because they've never had a cat," says White. "They think cats aren't affectionate or smart. Well, let me tell you, they're so smart that they may outrank dogs."

To promote cats, the non-profit Morris Animal Foundation, where White has been a board member for 48 years, has launched a Happy Health Cat Photo Contest sponsored by Sergeants. Cat lovers can enter by uploading a photo to or

There are three categories:

• Happy Healthy Cat: One or more cats that appear to be healthy or active; or appear to be having fun

• My Favorite Human: One or more cats with their human family, kids or adults

• My Favorite K9: One or more cats with their favorite, dare we say, doggie friends, demonstrating that cats and dogs can live together in peace.

The winning cat, judged by White herself, will appear as a glamourpuss on the cover of the Morris Animal Foundation AnimalNews quarterly publication. There's no entry fee.

As for which pet is more intellectual, dogs are smart enough to typically seek help from humans to solve problems. Cats are smart enough to figure things out for themselves. Which is ultimately a more intelligent solution? Personally, I'm not intelligent enough to know.

Q: I have three Cocker Spaniels. My mom lived with me for 11 years, and Abbie quickly became her dog. In 2008, one of the dogs needed to be euthanized, and my mom passed away. Ever since then, Abbie have been grieving. Now, for the last six months, I've noticed muscle spasms in Abbie's heart area when she's lying next to me. To top this off, she was recently diagnosed with lupus.

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