Dogs are well known to be social pack animals, which is why owners have to be the alpha dog to keep the them from wrecking the house and chewing your shoes. Cats on the other hand are considered more aloof – doing you a favour coming home at night and that kind of approach.
Now scientists say that cats have paid the price for being aloof and have lost ground to dogs in terms of brainpower because of it. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they charted the evolution of the brain for over 500 species, living and fossilised, over the course of 60 million years. They found that the groups of mammals with relatively bigger brains tended to live in stable social groups.
The brains that grew most over this time were monkeys, followed by horses, dolphins, camels and dogs. The brains of more solitary animals like cats, deer, and rhinos, grew much more slowly. It appears that interaction is good for the brain which is probably why humans, who are the more social than monkeys and apes, have dominated the planet. Cooperation and coordination requires more brainpower so brains have evolved to cope with those challenges.
Not everyone agrees. The dog supporters say that cats do what they want whereas dogs think about how they can get other people to do it for them and can build relationships with different species. Cat supporters say cats choose to live alongside man to exploit the rodent population while still enjoying their independence.
Truly the world can be divided into dog people and cat people. And where do well-known social creatures like ants and bees fit into this? Not to mention pigeons!