THE world is divided into “dog people” and “cat people”, each passionately believing that their preferred pet is superior. Until a decade ago, there was very little scientific evidence either camp could muster to support its claims. Then animal behaviourists became interested in dogs and unleashed a pack of ingenious experiments testing canine capabilities and cognition. Recently, researchers have started doing similar work with cats. Could it be time for that showdown?
There are obvious pitfalls in trying to use science to resolve this perennial dispute. Every pet-owner knows their furry family member is special - a unique being with its own talents and foibles. Yet scientific research tends to look at species as a whole and deals in averages and trends when attempting to quantify their characteristics. Then there is the thorny issue of comparing two very different animals. Some might argue that the whole venture is doomed to failure, but here at New Scientist we like a challenge. So we have pitted cats against dogs in 11 categories. It’s a winner-take-all competition with “best in show” being awarded to the pet that prevails in the most categories. Let the fur fly…
SCORE: CATS 5 - 6 DOGS
So, at the risk of putting the cat among the pigeons, dogs come out on top. Unhappy with the final score? Think you have a better way to separate the dogs from the cats?
Now proven scientifically!