WASHINGTON (Feb. 25, 2004)—Who’s smarter…dogs or cats? As a follow-up to its March cover story on which pet outsmarts the other, National Geographic Kids magazine posed this highly debated question to its reader advisory panel. Sixty-four percent of the 7- to 15-year-olds who responded to the survey gave their vote to canines, while 36 percent favored feline intelligence. That said, according to experts there’s no simple answer — dogs and cats have different abilities — yet people tend to favor the type of pet they own.
In the survey, 73 percent of dog owners thought their pets were smarter and 54 percent of cat owners gave felines the nod.
One thing they did agree on was that pets were a good thing; 99 percent of kids supported having a pet. The animal’s unconditional love (51 percent) and the belief that pets teach kids about responsibility (38 percent) were the key reasons behind the overwhelming support.
Among those who felt that dogs were smarter, 41 percent cited the ability to teach them tricks as the basis for their decision, and 20 percent said it was because dogs were able to help people. Those in the cat camp gave being “more refined” (27 percent) and “more self sufficient” (26 percent) as the top reasons they favored feline superiority. This may be why 43 percent of kids say they take care of their cats themselves, while only 31 percent of kids said they were responsible for their dogs.
National Geographic Kids magazine conducted the survey this month among its nearly 500-member readers’ advisory panel. A total of 246 kids responded.
National Geographic Kids’ March cover story compares the skills and abilities of dogs and cats. In defense of dogs, the story features a pooch that plays the piano, a Jack Russell terrier that body boards while its owner swims nearby, and several canines that have helped people with medical conditions — predicting seizures, identifying a cancerous mole and alerting a mother when her baby was having trouble breathing. In favor of felines, the story showcases cats’ ability to listen at all times (even when they’re sleeping), walk on tightropes and predict earthquakes, and tells the tale of a cat that saved a teenager from suffocating from smoke inhalation.
Included in the story are IQ tests that readers can try out on their cats and dogs to evaluate problem-solving, communication, memory and listening skills.
“The amazing feats highlighted in the issue prove that both cats and dogs can have extraordinary talents and abilities. As a cat owner myself, I really enjoyed giving Chiang Mai the IQ test, and I’m delighted to report that she scored very high,” said National Geographic Kids Editor-in-Chief Melina Bellows. “While the debate over who’s the smartest will continue, the article and the responses to the survey show that the strong bond between people and their cats and dogs is undeniable.”
National Geographic Kids, a multitopic, photo-driven magazine for 6- to 14-year-olds, empowers its readers by making it fun to learn about the world. Published 10 times a year, this award-winning magazine with a circulation of over a million is available by subscription for $19.95 a year and on newsstands for $3.95 a copy. Its Web site is at nationalgeographic.com/kids; AOL Keyword: NatGeoKids.