Cats and dogs have earned their place as pets because of their intelligence. While they are highly trainable, their level of intelligence varies significantly, just like in humans. Their intellectual capacity is not dependent on their brain alone. Their genes and evolution also influence the way they deal with specific situations.
How Smart Are Cats?
When it comes to defining how smart cats are, it is not the size that matters but the unique characteristics of their cerebral cortex. It is a part of the brain that functions in the processing of cognitive information. Compared to the brain of dogs, the cerebral cortex of cats is bigger and more complex. The number of neurons in the cat’s cerebral cortex is about 300 million while it is only 160 million neurons in dogs. A portion of the cat’s cerebral cortex that is responsible for visual processing contains more nerve cells compared to that of humans and most mammals. The surface folding and structure of the brain in cats is about 90% like humans. The structure of their cerebral cortex makes it possible for cats to have longer-lasting memories than dogs. Cats tend to learn something by doing instead of just observing.
If they are so smart, why can’t cats be successfully ‘employed’ like dogs? Well, cats can be very stubborn, and their social IQ is definitely lower than that of dogs. They are more impulsive and can easily become frustrated. They do not have the tolerance for certain situations that need their focus for long periods. Cats can solve cognitive problems only if they feel like it.
Find out more about how smart cats are!
How Smart Are Dogs?
Canine intelligence has been a favorite subject for hundreds, if not thousands, of research studies. The results of these studies showed how interesting the dog’s social intelligence and emotional sensitivity are. In fact, it has been estimated that the average intelligence of dogs is about the same as a 2.5-year-old baby.
The intellectual capacity of dogs enables them to interpret the body language of humans. They can process the tone of the human voice as well as spoken words. In fact, they are better at it than chimps! However, dogs differ in their intellectual capacities. Some dogs can learn and understand hundreds of words, while some can remember more than a thousand words. Dogs share an emotional connection with their owners, and they can sense if their human is happy, anxious, sad, or angry. Dogs can feel jealous, too!
Intelligence in dogs can be measured in different ways. Some dogs excel in social situations, some are great at learning words, and some are adept at solving problems. Whatever may be the case, dogs come in at the top when it comes to their social cognitive skills.
Find out more about how smart dogs are!
Pet Therapy For Anxiety
Some situations can trigger feelings of anxiety in pets and fuel the development of undesirable habits. While cats and dogs may experience some form of anxiety at one time or another, many of these instances are short-lived. However, there are cases in which high levels of anxiety in pets remain unchecked and this can eventually lead to the development of deep-seated anxiety disorders.
The top reasons for anxiety in dogs include fear and being separated from their owners or left home alone. Anxiety may also be age-related. Senior dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) tend to be more prone to the problem.
In cats, anxiety may be triggered by a lack of socialization, the presence of perceived threats, pain, illness, traumatic experiences, changes in their immediate environment, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Senior cats with cognitive dysfunction may also suffer from age-related anxiety.
Addressing anxiety issues in pet cats and dogs involves a combination of preventive techniques, specific training routines, and medications. Depending on the degree of anxiety, a cat or dog may need to be subjected to counter-conditioning and desensitization. Anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed if your veterinarian deems it necessary. There have also been studies that showed the positive effects of certain types of music on cats and dogs.
Read more about pet therapy for pets with anxiety here.
Interactive Toys For Curious Pets & To Bust Your Pet’s Boredom
One of the basic needs of dogs and cats is adequate physical and mental stimulation. As pets, their lifestyle is a far cry from that of their ancestors. There is no need for pets to roam far and wide in search of prey. With domestication, providing for their basic needs now become the responsibility of their pet parents.
Dogs and cats require positive avenues to burn excess energy while deriving physical and mental stimulation and motivation. Without these, they become bored and these pent-up energies will eventually cause undesirable behaviors. They can engage in inappropriate elimination, destructive behaviors, digging, excessive vocalization, etc.
Responsible pet owners recognize the importance of spending quality time with their pets regularly. Daily interaction can help strengthen the bond between you and your pet. A game of fetch or a walk around the block with your pet is a healthy opportunity to burn excess energy.
For pets that are frequently left home alone, there are interactive toys that can provide them with hours of stimulating fun as they play, toss, chew, chase, and figure out how to get the toy to dispense their favorite treats. When buying interactive toys for your pet cat or dog, it is recommended that you supervise the first few times that your pet plays with them to make sure that they are durable and safe for play even when you’re not around.
Read more about interactive toys for your curious or bored pets here!