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Archive: 31 July 2002

Maybe This Explains Lassie

I’ve been saying for years that dogs are smarter than most people think, and cats far dumber than they’re generally thought to be.  It would seem there’s scientific research to back me up on the first part of that claim.  My theory is that people mistake a nearly total lack of comprehension for indifference in cats, and an eager friendliness for idiocy in dogs.  The mere fact that dogs can almost without exception be trained to perform tasks, and cats generally can’t, always indicated to me more intelligence in the canine species.

And before you all start e-mailing me about this smart cat you own or knew once, or about dumb-as-a-post dogs piddling on your shoes and refusing to be trained, I’ll freely admit that both exist.  Humans run the gamut of intelligence, so it should come as no surprise that other species have a similar range of cognitive abilities (or lack thereof).  Similarly, don’t bother telling me about how cats are so smart they ignore attempts to train them as being beneath their dignity, because I don’t buy it.  I’ve known too many cats.

July 2002
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