Chris Packham and Liz Bonnin battle it out to find out whether cats or dogs are the better animal. Round one tests whether either species can understand numbers.
Browse content similar to Episode 1. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Everyone knows we're a nation of animal lovers,
and there are no prizes for guessing which ones in particular
we're fond of - they are, of course, cats and dogs.
We're going to try and answer the question that
so frequently divides the nation and its animal lovers.
Simply put, which animal is best, a cat or a dog?
Now, it's not easy, but perhaps science will
once and for all settle this.
Over the next two programmes we're going to be revealing some
of the latest and most fascinating research from around the world.
I suspect you might not look at your pet in the same way ever again.
Mm-hm. And I'm coming down on the side of our canine companions.
Are you, now? And even though I'm a fan of both, I believe that cats
are the superior animals, Chris.
What can I say? Two sides.
And two shows in which to battle it out.
In Cats V Dogs, we're calling on the nation's pets
and their owners to help us decide which will be the winner.
Using ground-breaking science from around the globe we're pitting
our pets against each other
to compare the two species for the very first time.
Tonight they're going to be competing
in three distinct categories.
We'll be comparing their senses.
Their physical prowess.
And their brainpower.
Let the battle begin.
We're basing ourselves here in Cambridgeshire,
at one of the country's leading veterinary referral clinics,
and it's one that specialises in cats and dogs.
We'll be working with an international team of consultants
to find a definitive answer to which is best - a cat or a dog?
Our first category is a real brainteaser.
Which of our pets is the most intelligent species?
Chris and I have already made up our minds, but we were keen to know
what YOU thought, so we commissioned a survey
of 1,000 people who own at least one cat AND one dog.
So, how intelligent do you think your cats and dogs are?
Well, in our survey of cat and dog owners,
we asked which they thought was the most intelligent animal.
29% said they thought the cat was the most intelligent animal,
leaving a whopping, whopping
58% saying they thought the dog was the more intelligent of the two.
-That's not a WHOPPING amount, Chris.
Well, it's whopping bigger than 29.
Before we call on the scientist to settle this argument we've
collected a few clips from proud owners
showing off their clever cats and dogs.
Felines are fabulous at figuring things out.
But clever canines can do pretty much anything.
Good girl, Ella, go close the door.
Never mind feeding the dog - this dog makes YOU breakfast!
But cats help out afterwards.
And just look at this.
Good girl! Nice girl.
But dogs can be taught so many USEFUL skills.
Now, here's a hotshot.
OK, so they're both clever. But which one is the REAL brainiac?
I've come down here to the dog ward to meet Peggy.
And when I look into Peggy's eyes, I think
that I can see intelligence in there.
And to prove my point, I went off to one of the world's leading
animal intelligence research centres.
The Clever Dog Lab in Vienna.
In this seat of learning and culture,
even the dogs go to university!
CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYS
Meet Luna, and she's been working here with
some ground-breaking research
where the scientists are looking at a dog's numerical abilities.
Husky Luna is one of the trained volunteers in the trials
created by Dr Friederike Range.
she's assessing one aspect of animal intelligence -
the ability to recognise numbers of objects.
Tell me about the equipment that you're using. How does this work?
So basically they have to touch with their nose one of the two screens,
and Luna has to go for the higher quantities.
So if she actually presses this side with her nose, she gets a reward.
However, if she presses the wrong one, she gets a time-out.
So she has to wait 30 seconds before she can do the next trial.
-OK, well, let's put Luna to the test, then.
The first combinations of numbers are all ones that Luna has
been trained to recognise.
So is it three or one?
Hmm, no hesitation there.
How about four or one?
-At the moment she seems to be doing quite well.
-That's promising, yes.
And you're testing a range of breeds, I take it?
Yes. We've been testing up to 30 other dogs
and they all enjoy the task.
Luna scores nine out of twelve.
OK, well, this trial's come to an end,
-can we try the more difficult one?
In the second test, the number of dots increases
and the combinations get closer together.
Even I'm struggling to tell them apart.
Friederike, this is definitely more difficult.
There were a lot more dots.
And she is struggling a bit.
Luna's really being pushed here.
As well as using screens she's been trained to recognise, Friederike's
mixing in some more totally new combinations to see if Luna can
take the principle which she seems to have learned, and then apply it.
A couple of times she's gone up
and it's almost like she's looked between the two screens.
As if she's double-checking.
It could mean that she's not sure about her choice.
Well, what's going on in her head - who knows?
We can't ask her, unfortunately.
With just two options there's always a 50% chance of
getting the right answer, so the success rate needs to be much
higher than that to prove any genuine ability.
OK, if you establish that they're scoring better than 50%,
would this allow us to infer that the dogs can actually count?
No. It's nothing to do with counting, really.
They can discriminate between different quantities.
OK, so they can't add a sequence of numbers
nor recognise higher or lower -
it's simply the difference visually between the different numbers?
It seems to me, yes.
Even in the second tougher test, Luna scores 60%.
Scientist believe that domestic dogs seem to have this numerical
intelligence due to their wild ancestry.
You see, they're descended from wolves, pack-living animals.
So, it would help if, when they met another pack, they could see
how many members it had, because sometimes they come into conflict.
And if you met up with a pack and there were 16,
and you only had six in yours, you might want to avoid that conflict.
For domestic dogs a lot of intelligence echoes down the
generations from their wild wolf ancestors.
These are grey wolves.
And potentially they are very dangerous animals.
Here are at the Wolf Science Center in Austria, grey wolves are
bred in captivity.
Now, these wolves shouldn't be that dangerous because they've
been hand-reared by the scientist here at this establishment.
That means of course that they are tame,
it doesn't mean that they are domesticated.
And the very fact that they're tame,
in that they have no fear of humans, can sometimes make them
just a little bit more dangerous than normal.
But we're about to find out. Cos I'm going in to meet them.
Domestic dogs share the ancestry and an incredible 99.96%
of their genes with wolves.
It's hard to imagine, but every single breed of domestic dog
that we've got, everything from Great Dane, Labrador, poodle,
down to Chihuahua, is actually related to these grey wolves.
Wolves are very smart operators.
They've worked out the power of the pack.
They live in complex social groups and they are supreme hunters.
Using intelligent teamwork they hunt animals much larger than
themselves, chasing them down over long distances.
It was the similar behaviour,
all of those tens of thousands of years ago,
between our early hunter-gatherer ancestors
and the pack-hunting behaviour of wolves, that brought us together.
And started the process that's ended up with the dog
living alongside you now.
It's all gone, mate, it's all gone. Just the fingers left.
Our pet dogs may not need to go hunting, but their social skills
and intelligence are the legacy of the wolf.
So what about cats? How will they do in an intelligence test?
Now, our dogs' numerical skills
are clearly very impressive,
but when it comes to comparing them to cats, we have a slight problem.
Cats are notoriously difficult to train.
And there's a good reason for this.
Cats haven't been bred for thousands of years to obey our every command.
But, one group of dedicated scientists have taken up
the cat numerical challenge.
To find out what cats are capable of, I've come to the UK's foremost
pet behaviour research centre at Lincoln University.
And as with all the tests in the series, none of our pets
came to any harm during filming.
So this is Pixie, she's one of the cats who's been trained up
in preparation for studies about numerical discrimination in cats.
And today, for the first time, she's going to be put to the test.
Professor Daniel Mills and his team have designed a less hi-tech
version of the task Luna the dog did in Vienna.
They've been training Pixie to discriminate between four and one.
-So we have two magnetic boards.
-Four objects here and one object there.
And the cat's been trained in order to always pick the larger number.
Research assistant Kate is at the ready with rewards.
While Nadia wears a blindfold to ensure she doesn't give away
any physical cues to Pixie.
Excellent. So she's picked the four over the one.
If we can get set up for the next trial.
The numbers are swapped for round two.
-Good, very good.
-Yes, well done.
Can Pixie make it three out of three?
Can this still be chance or is this looking like she knows
-what she's doing?
No treat this time. And the fifth and final test.
That's four out of five.
That was great,
it does look like Pixie's been well trained to recognise a larger number
from a smaller number, but, of course,
-now is the crucial part, isn't it?
Cos she's only been tested on the ones that she's learnt about.
So now we're gonna drop in some new number combinations that she's not
had before. So we're going to go with six and three.
So can Pixie apply what she seems to have learned so far,
and identify the bigger number?
Well done, Pixie.
She's on a roll.
And the third time...
Oh, it's a fail.
You can't get it every time.
Why not? She's a cat, come on!
It's not long before Pixie's had enough.
She won't be persuaded to carry on...
..proving how much more difficult it is to train a cat.
You know, dogs live with us, they constantly focus on us,
they're keen to engage, whereas cats, anyone who owns a cat
knows that the cat likes to be in control and do its own thing.
This is pretty extraordinary. Pixie does seem to be able to
discriminate greater quantities from smaller ones, but does this mean
that she can count?
People have suggested that perhaps cats need to count in order to count
how many kittens they've got to check they haven't left one behind.
But actually, now we know that they've got individual
recognition of their kittens,
I don't have to count how many kittens I've got -
-I need to know I've got you and you.
-I can smell you,
I can recognise your meowing, I know what's going on.
So actually that negates the need, perhaps, to count.
I wouldn't be surprised if they have some concept,
but when does a cat ever need to count up to ten?
I think we have to say that
when it comes to the numbers game, the dogs have nailed it.
It does look like that, doesn't it?
But there are clear evolutionary reasons as to why cats may not have
needed to evolve this particular type of numerical intelligence.
For one thing, they're solitary animals.
They seek out lone prey, and we're very much behind with cat studies,
and what's becoming clear is that one testing method may not work
for two different species, and it's something that science
will be looking at more closely in the future.
To begin to understand the way a cat thinks, we need to go back
to their wild beginnings.
This cat might look like your average pet tabby,
but it is, in fact, an Arabian Wildcat.
Powerful, fiercely combative and a supreme predator.
It's thought there are as many as five subspecies of wildcat,
but DNA analysis shows that all of our domestic cats
are descended from this guy.
And our modern descendants of these mighty moggies have retained
many of the same traits.
Arabian Wildcats are solitary animals with large
territories measuring several square miles. They only come
together to mate and the female will raise her offspring alone.
Cats are highly intelligent lone survivors,
brilliant at figuring out how to capture their prey.
They are formidable hunters.
They hunt mainly at night and they are ambush predators,
which means they'll stalk up to their prey
and get as close as they possibly can and then they'll pounce.
Many of our well-fed pet cats still like to hunt, proving they're
not that far removed from their wild ancestors.
DOGS BARK AND WHIMPER
OK, both cats and dogs are clearly intelligent.
They've worked out how to survive in the wild
and learn to live alongside each other, as well as us humans,
but which of these two animals is the smartest overall?
Here at the clinic I'm going to pick the brains of the big boss,
senior consultant Dick White.
-Dick, very nice to meet you.
I've got to get to the bottom of this dog and cat brain issue.
But before we do, there's no bias -
you like each animal an equal fashion, I presume?
I pretend to like each equally but I have one cat
-and seven or eight dogs, so...
-There probably is a little bit of bias there.
-Well, let's not mention that.
-No, we won't.
-Let's go straight to the brains, then.
OK, here we have a model of a cat's brain.
And we think that the average cat's brain has
a volume of around about 25cc.
The dog, on the other hand, does somewhat better,
has a slightly larger brain, and the average dog has a brain -
this is a medium-sized dog - has a brain of around about 64cc.
So dogs' brains are somewhat bigger than cats.
But that doesn't necessarily mean they're in any way more intelligent,
-of course, does it?
-No, sheer volume is not necessarily a good indicator,
so we use something called an encephalization quotient,
or an EQ, and that gives us a ratio of the relative
size of the brain to the weight of the animal.
Dogs have an EQ of around about 1.2
and cats have an EQ slightly less, of around about 1.
So that means if you compared a cat-sized dog with a cat,
it still has a brain which is roughly 20% bigger than the cat.
-The dog has the bigger brain?
-The dog has the bigger brain. Yes.
OK. What's going on in the brain, though?
Well, although the EQ is a good indication of intelligence,
it's still more complex than that.
And we need to look at the number of neurons in the cortex, which is
the front part of the brain.
And in the cat, we estimate
they have around about 300 million cortical neurons.
Whereas in the dog, and this is fairly recent work in
Golden Retrievers, it's hot off the press, the average dog has around
about 600 million cortical neurons, so roughly twice as many as the cat.
So it suggests that they ought to be twice as intelligent as the cat.
OK. So relative to body size,
a larger brain, also a more complex one,
and therefore potentially more intelligent.
I knew it.
In our survey, 58% of you agreed with me that dogs
would win on intelligence - and we were right.
Canines are officially top dog.
I'm still not convinced that dogs are more intelligent than cats.
Time for the next round in our epic battle between cats and dogs.
We move on to comparing their sensory powers.
Survival of the fittest isn't just about brain power.
Physical and physiological capabilities also play a huge
role in the success of a species.
They need finely tuned senses.
Their sense of smell, hearing and sight are absolutely essential
when it comes to their survival.
Indeed, so let's start with sight. Cats are excellent at night vision.
But I wanted find out just how much better
cats are at seeing in the dark than dogs.
So, as night falls, I meet up with the Royal Veterinary College's
senior ophthalmologist, Dr Rick Sanchez.
He's going to put both species through the maze test.
So this is it, this is our maze?
This is the maze. OK, so how is this going to work?
Well, as you can see there are obstacles here,
which can be moved and can be changed, and so the idea
is for the animal to walk through, around all the obstacles
and go to the end, where they're going to have a little bit
of a food reward. Of course, it's going to be pitch-black in here.
It will be completely dark.
'All we need now is a couple of intrepid volunteers.'
So this is Edupus, this is Fen,
and they're going to be a guinea pigs for our little experiment.
Yes, you are.
So who will be the fastest through the maze?
Let's turn off the lights.
Owner Dale's at the starting line with Fen.
Her daughter Mimi is in charge of summoning Fen to the finish line.
Go on, Fen, in the maze, in the maze.
It really is pitch-black in here.
But we're using night-vision cameras.
Come on. Turn, oh, oh. Oh, confusing.
-Come on, Fen, come on. Now she's seen it.
-Yes, that's good. Yes, she's...
-Oh, look, look, look.
-'Oh, she's turning around.'
She's not, she's not comfortable so she's going back to where she knows.
-Come on, Fen, come on.
Fen is at an advantage here.
A dog's night vision is five times better than ours.
But I'm not sure if Fen realises that.
Well, I think that shows
that she's not comfortable... She's trying to...
I want her to do it, though. There you go.
-Oh, there we go!
'So there's now 43 seconds to beat.'
Well done, let's bring in the cat.
How will Edupus get on?
OK so there's...
Smooth as. Smooth as.
-That's very fast.
-Smooth. No hesitation.
As if it was broad daylight.
'And done in eight seconds. He is the clear winner.
To be sure it wasn't a one-off, we move the obstacles around in
the maze and run the test again.
The results are the same each time.
So why are cats so successful?
They both have something in the back of the eye called
the tapetum, which is a reflective layer.
I have a torch here and if you shine a light into their eyes
from a distance, you should be able to see that the cat's eyes
are a lot more reflective.
Obviously a lot more reflective than the dog's eyes should be.
-OK, let me turn off the lights.
-You want to try?
-We'll check this out.
OK, let's take a look.
Can you see it?
Oh, it's amazing.
The tapetum in the cat, it has about 20 layers.
And the dog's is a bit thinner than that.
It's up to ten layers.
Cats have tiny little cells in the tapetum with reflective
material that is not only tightly packed, but is oriented
in such a way that it reflects light a lot more efficiently than the dog.
The more light that you're able to reflect,
the better you can see at night.
So, when it comes to seeing in the dark, the crown goes to these
supreme night prowlers.
Cats are nocturnal predators.
The animals they hunt tend to come out at night, which is why
they're so good at seeing in the dark.
What's more, cats' eyes are supremely adapted for following
very fast-moving prey - take a look at this.
It's the old trick - which cup is the ball under?
Watch very closely - Kedo, the cat, is.
He never seems to get it wrong.
So there's no doubt that when it comes to vision, cats win.
So, come on, Chris, you can't disagree with that.
Both animals may benefit from the way they see the world,
but cats take the trophy.
OK. I concede that cats - by a short whisker - take the trophy.
But there is one sense that everyone knows, yourself included,
where dogs absolutely triumph - and that is smell.
I've come to Manchester city centre to meet a sniffer dog
with a spectacular sense of smell.
-How do you do?
-I'm fine, thanks.
-And this is Boris.
-This is Boris.
I've heard a lot about Boris. Tell me a bit about him yourself.
Boris is a search dog with mountain rescue.
-Good nose, then?
-Very good, yes.
I'm going to set Steve and Boris a really tricky challenge today.
And I'm going to scoot off through the city,
I'm going to run about a mile away, and you've got to try and track me.
I've got a couple of smelly clues for you.
I've got a T-shirt I was wearing yesterday,
and I've got a really skanky pillow case, plenty of scent there, I hope.
This is urban tracking at its most extreme.
There are thousands of smells vying for air space here.
So how on earth is he going to pinpoint just one - mine?
Just look at this.
There must be at least 300 people,
and by the time that Boris gets here there would have been another
600, 900, 1,000 people.
'And, I'm going to make it even harder for Boris.'
I've got an idea.
Just watch this - I'm going to set him a dummy.
Yes, for my first trick I double back down a side street.
Hehehe! That'll get him!
I'm going to wash away my scent.
And this is perfect.
A street market teeming with vats of pungent foods.
It's a complete sensual onslaught.
How can he not be distracted by all of these smells?
There's every food smell you can imagine. From all over the world.
I've just thought of another idea.
What I'm going to do here is I'm going to loop around this building
and then come back across my own trail.
What's he going to do about that, then?
I think that's far enough.
There's plenty of smells, a few tricks and thousands
and thousands of people.
So let's just see how Boris's nose can do.
Right, I'm just gonna now introduce the scent from the T-shirt to Boris.
Find the smell. Where's the smell?
Boris is wearing a GPS transmitter and I'll be tracking his
progress every sniff of the way from my coffee shop hideout.
Here's the route I took - let's see if he can follow it,
and then find me.
He's made the first right decision,
and he's going at quite a pace, I can tell you.
Find him out.
The interesting thing is, he's going in the right direction but
he's on the different side of the street than I was on.
He's just coming up to the point now where he's gonna have to turn left.
He's done it.
Find him out.
Now he's just got to that bit where I played that little trick,
when I went down the street and came back out again.
Well, that didn't work, did it? He just charged straight across.
Find him out.
This'll be an interesting bit.
This is where he's going to get up to where I tried to wash my scent away.
He didn't even slow up.
This is the bit where I jumped on the benches.
He didn't even bother to look at 'em!
Oh, he's having a re-sniff.
Find him out.
He's about halfway round the course now.
And he's bang on target.
I imagined that he would be sniffing the ground, following exactly
where I'd put my feet. But he's not doing that,
he's smelling the general course of where I'm going.
He's gone around the outside of that food market, not through the centre.
It's almost as if he's decided he doesn't want to be tempted
by the smell of sausages or anything else, he's bypassed that altogether.
OK, this is the spot where I looped around that block and
crossed my own trail. But he's not done that at all.
In fact, he's crossed the road even before that point.
Perhaps he's picking up on the fresher scent.
Find him out.
He's about a 100 metres away.
Come on, Boris, where is it?
He's almost on me. That took just over ten minutes.
What can I say?! What can I say?! Oh, Boris, honestly.
So, Steve, what is it about my smell,
anyone's smell, which is unique enough for him to be able to follow?
Well, the science behind it is the scent is produced
from dead skin cells.
As they die, they come off the body and then the bacteria that
works on them creates the scent that is unique to you.
That's why he wasn't following my exact footprints,
he wasn't interested in that - he was interested in this plume
of deteriorating skin cells
that were blowing around in the environment?
Yes, that's how he's able to track you.
It's the scent coming up that's left that trail
-through the city.
-And how long would my trail last out there?
I mean, you started following me after about 40 minutes.
But, could you have done that, I don't know, ten hours,
-12 hours later?
-Yes, Boris has worked at trails at lengths
of 12, 24 and 72 hours.
The key factor will be the environmental conditions.
Wind, rain will affect the length of that trail will be viable.
'Remarkable. And the reason why dogs can track scent so well
'is because of what's going on inside their noses.'
These are images of a CT scan of a dog's nose.
'Surgeon Pieter Nelissen is giving me a guided tour
'of the olfactory epithelium - folded layers of tissue
'covered in smell receptors.'
This is were it gets interesting, this is where we see all
the different scrolls that form the nose.
'If these scrolls were unravelled, their surface area would measure
'30 times bigger than a human's.'
Is it all about maximising the surface area to fit as many
smell receptors on there?
That's exactly what it is.
Dogs use their smell for pretty much everything
and they've got about 150 million smell receptors.
So OK, there's no question, they're excellent at smelling,
but I want to see how the cat compares.
If we scroll through an image of the cat, we immediately see that it
is a lot less compact, they've got 20cm squared and...
As opposed to 90...
As opposed to 90, and there are a lot less receptors within the cat.
Only 60 million of receptors.
'And dogs have another big advantage.
'The area of their brain dedicated to smell is relatively much larger.'
So the brain is able to process that smell more effectively as well?
-Yes, that's correct.
-I'm very depressed about that information.
I don't want to tell Chris.
'But it's not over yet in this battle.'
See a tiny little opening
between the hard palate and the incisive bone.
'This is a cat's vomeronasal organ.
'It analyses chemical messages in the scent marks left by other cats.'
Cats use it specifically to communicate with other cats,
it's all to do with pheromones,
and they will have an idea where there are other cats in the area,
either to stay away from them or to interact with them directly.
See, I'm hugely impressed with that. Do dogs have vomeronasal organs?
Dogs do have it but it is less-developed compared to cats.
It's much more crude.
So OK, they win hands down when it comes to this much more
sophisticated way of gaining information about the world
-Absolutely, it's not just smell.
Ah, interesting stuff, so what cats lack in smell receptors
and area of epithelium, they make up for with this incredible ability.
Yep, of course - nice try, Liz.
But everyone knows that when it comes to the nose, dogs come
up smelling of, er, roses.
And that leaves us with our last sensory head-to-head - hearing.
And for my money, this is going to be the most difficult.
So we asked our survey participants.
said they thought that cats had better hearing.
And 61% said that they thought it was dogs.
Anyone who owns a dog knows that they'll prick up their ears
at almost anything.
Their hearing is certainly better than that of any human.
But could those cats be the hearing heroes?
To find out who has the widest range of hearing, Dick White is
conducting a hearing test with the help of Felix the cat.
He's starting with the easier sounds at lower frequencies.
OK, so let's put a, first of all a 10kH signal in here,
and that's well within human hearing range.
He certainly reacts to that in the same way that we do.
OK, we'll go up now to 20kH, which is not easy for humans to hear,
but young children can usually hear that,
and we'll see what kind of response we get to that.
Next we're going beyond the range that ANY humans can hear.
Now we're going to 50kH.
50kH is the upper limit for dogs.
It's another positive reaction from Felix. But can he go even higher?
Let's go to 60kH, let's press the button now.
Come on, Felix, this is for cats everywhere.
We can see some ear twitching,
which suggests some response to that sound.
There are the ears moving.
It's another triumph for cats.
Well, I think it's clear that cats have much superior hearing
than dogs. One of the important differences is that the external ear
of the cat is very erect, we can see this part here - the pinna -
is very, very mobile and it acts like a sort of a radar dish
to collect the sound waves
and directs them down to the tympanic membrane, or the eardrum.
The cat's middle ear is relatively larger than that of the dog, which
is thought to be why cats can detect a far wider range of frequencies.
Cats often hear their prey before they see it.
The small animals they prey on tend to make high-pitched noises,
but because cats have the ability to pick up on these sounds,
they can locate them easily.
Quite a surprising result for a lot of pet owners there -
61% of you thought that dogs would be better at hearing,
but the science backs me up, Chris.
Cats win on hearing.
Only just, only just, and let's not forget the smell.
When it comes to smell, the dog's nose is like a sensory
version of Pinocchio's - it's right out there sniffing above the cats.
Pinocchio's nose - really...?
Dogs may win on smell but cats have better eyesight and hearing.
So the overall winner in this round,
the battle of the senses, are the cats.
Once you've located your prey, you have to catch it.
And so for the final round in this show's battle between cats
and dogs, we're going to be testing who is best when it comes to
And by that, we mean agility, stamina and speed.
So our next survey question was,
which animal do you think is the most agile - the cat or the dog?
-Do you want the results?
-Lay them on me.
4% said dogs. And a resounding
93% said the cat.
I'm not terribly surprised about that, you know,
because cats are renowned for being very lithe, supple animals.
But, you know, I think this might be closer-run than you think.
Let's start by looking at how athletic each of these animals is.
Cats are fantastic movers.
But dogs are bound to win.
I'd like to see a cat do this.
And I'd like to see a dog do this.
You can't beat a skateboarding hound.
OK, so both cats and dogs can do some pretty amazing tricks.
But cats are ambush predators -
that requires an incredible amount of power and agility.
So I suspect that in a true test of physical prowess
cats are going to beat dogs hands down.
One simple action that both animals can do is jump.
But who can jump the highest?
We've enlisted the help of the Royal Veterinary College's Matthew Pead.
OK, so today we've set up a high jump competition for you.
We've got Dash, a Jack Russell Terrier.
-And we've got a cat.
Representing Team Cat is Tinkerbell.
OK, and they're pretty evenly matched.
Yes, similar size. Similar leg length.
Dash is up first.
All right, Joe, whenever you're ready.
'He's warming up. And we'll see how high he can go.'
Jump, jump, jump!
The first phase of a vertical jump is the takeoff.
It's how well they do this which determines the height they reach.
Both dogs and cats have the same basic technique. First the crouch.
Followed by the raising of the four limbs,
and a rapid extension of the hind limbs.
so how did Dash do on his best jump?
What part of the body are we measuring here -
the top of the head, the hind legs?
We're going to take a point just behind the shoulder blade
-and that's about the middle of the animal.
-That's the fairest
-we can be.
-Yes, that's the fairest I can do for you.
OK, so let's take a look at this one
and see where the shoulder blades reach on the chart.
-Oh, very good.
-So the point just behind his scapular
is 112, we'll give him for that.
112cm, Dash, well done.
Tinkerbell is up next, but we need to give her somewhere to land.
She's been trained to jump up
onto something, which is more natural for a cat.
Does she get any leverage from tapping her feet
on the box as she jumps up?
No, we've set it up with a really smooth surface, so she can't gain
any purchase from there.
Tinkerbell certainly jumps with more style than Dash, but did she beat
his top score of 112cm?
OK, let's take a look at Tinkerbell's highest jump, and...
129 for the cat.
OK, that is amazing.
So Tinkerbell has clearly jumped
-substantially higher than Dash.
It's a clear win for Team Cat.
The dog's probably performing at the limit of what the dog can do.
I think the cat's taking it easy.
The highest recorded cat jump is 196cm.
So what is it about cats that make them so brilliant at jumping?
First up, the cat's got this incredibly long reach -
look how far these legs go out in front of her.
So they have relatively long bones in relation to their size -
that gives them long levers, and long levers with long muscles mean
that you can generate a lot of force.
Cats' bones are not only long, they're lightweight as well.
They have larger cavities than those of dogs, who have a denser,
The cats' natural crouch posture combined with a highly
flexible spine allows them to contract like a coiled spring
before an explosive takeoff.
They can get all the muscles which are going to propel them
into the air pretty much underneath their centre of gravity.
That's much more difficult for a dog, which isn't so flexible, to do.
So the cat can pretty much push itself straight up in the air,
almost like a rocket.
So when it comes to the high jump, cats reach new heights.
Well, what do you make of that?
It's undeniable, it's undeniable.
Cats are remarkable, amazing athletes,
but what about the long jump? That's a different kettle of fish,
and here I think that dogs could do really well.
This is a genuine British long jump competition
called Dash 'N' Splash...
..based on the American sport of dock diving, where dogs retrieve
a ball thrown off the end of a dock.
Success relies upon a fast run-up and a powerful takeoff.
The nearer the end of the ramp they jump from, the better,
as the jump distance is measured from the edge.
The end point is where the base of the dog's tail breaks the surface.
The current world record is a truly giant leap of 8.5m.
Only just short of the world record for the human long jump.
The furthest recorded cat jump is just 1.8 metres.
Dogs are the long-jump champions!
So, what do you make of that?
I loved it, Chris, but who knows how far a cat could jump
if you could train it to run up first?
IF you could train it to run up first.
Yes, on the subject of running, let's look at speed now.
In our survey of our 1,000 cat and dog owners,
we asked which one they thought would be the faster sprinter.
Very surprising results.
41% said they thought it was their dog,
and 51, their cat. I'm surprised by that.
I do as well, but when you think about it,
the fastest animal on the planet belongs to the cat family.
The cheetah is built for speed.
This lean, mean running machine can go as fast as 64mph.
It's capable of incredible acceleration and can go from
0-60 in 3½ seconds.
That's faster than most sports cars.
Now, look at this domestic cat moving at full speed.
If you compare it with a cheetah, you can see just how similar
they are in their running techniques.
But there is one breed of dog that's famous for being fast,
and that's the greyhound.
Chris is meeting Sal and Jojo - rescues who live at the clinic
and are looked after by ward assistant Abby.
What a beautiful animal. The physique is extraordinary isn't, it?
-She is gorgeous.
-Her legs so lean. How much exercise do you give them?
We walk them four times a day and they run around in the paddock.
Run around - that's what we want to see, a bit of running.
-An animal like this needs to be in motion. Can we try?
All right, here's the toy - look at this, look at this.
Imagine it's a...I don't know, a rabbit or something. Come on.
It's beautiful to watch, isn't it?
The way their body moves.
And these animals have been bred for countless
generations for their speed, and I can tell you that
when that greyhound is flat out, it will do 40mph.
Well, Chris is pulling a fast one again -
using the most speedy dog breed to compare to an average moggy
is just not good sportsmanship.
We're going to get to the bottom of this with some proper science.
Helen Fenton-Jones is head physiotherapist at the centre.
-How are you? Who's this?
-This is Bobby.
What are you doing to him today?
He's having some hydrotherapy as part of his physio treatment.
Because he's an older dog he just needs a little bit of help
cos his muscles aren't so strong any more.
I'm hoping Helen can settle the argument about which animal
is faster, my cats or Chris's dogs?
Well, if we think about the skeleton,
if we look at the forelimb of a cat compared to a dog,
there's much more manoeuvrability and flexibility there.
OK. How does that contribute to speed when running?
When we're talking about running, if they can increase
the range of movement at the shoulder, increasing their stride
length, technically that should contribute to a greater speed.
-Faster compared to the dog.
So if you combine the extraordinary muscle power, the manoeuvrability,
the flexibility of the spine, can we say that your average cat is
designed for speed in a superior way to that of a dog of the same size?
I suspect that may be the case.
And I think it's really interesting that we can use our knowledge
of the musculoskeletal systems to infer those sorts of things.
Thank you so much. So, Chris, it looks like once again
the average cat pips the average dog to the post.
Ecologically, of course, this makes sense.
Speed, jumping, general agility - well, it's important to cats
because of the way they hunt,
by pouncing or jumping up onto their prey, often after a short sprint.
But there is one athletic skill
where Liz and her cats can't possibly compete.
And that is endurance.
Dogs and their humans are amazing long-distance runners.
I'm here at the European Championships of a very noisy
new sport, called Canicross,
where basically it's like cross-country with dogs.
The dogs are very much in front pulling the runners along,
so it's a perfect opportunity for us
to take a look at the endurance abilities of these animals.
The dogs and their owners cover a demanding 5km course
through Perthshire's scenic Bowland Trails.
Scandinavian hound Diesel is being fitted with a heart-rate monitor
by a Canicross vet, Bethan Fitzgerald.
We're just going to need to put some gel on the underside just to
make sure that there's good contact between the skin.
We need a good amount, sorry.
And this will tell us exactly how fast that heart
is beating during exercise, before exercise,
-and we can do a comparison.
-OK, what's it saying?
It's giving us a heart-rate of about 80 beats per minute.
Is that what you'd expect for a dog of this size?
-It'll be interesting to see what happens
during the course of the race, Diesel.
I imagine yours might go up a little bit.
And yours too, of course.
Diesel and his owner Sarah were European champions two years ago,
so they're both pretty fit.
The dogs lead the way, but their owners call out directional
commands to keep them on the right route.
In this terrain, four legs are definitely better than two.
But are the dogs being pushed to their limit?
Heart rate's one thing, but what we're really
interested in here is something called the VO2 max.
Now, this is the sort of aerobic capacity of the body.
It's the body's ability to get oxygen to the muscles, which is
In simple terms it's the fitness - the absolute fitness.
The VO2 is the volume of oxygen that the body can consume
The fitter you are, the higher your maximum capacity.
Now, dogs are way ahead of their owners.
At full capacity, Diesel has a VO2 level that could reach 200.
Even the fittest human specimens can't come close to this.
I'm here on the finish line and one thing that's very apparent is
that most of the dogs look a lot fitter than the people.
I mean, there's a few drooping tongues from the dogs but there's
a lot of exhausted competitors - human competitors, that is.
So how hard DID Diesel find it?
'If he's been pushed to his limit, then his VO2 level would read 200.'
Just a rough calculation, and today he reached 90.
But I've got a funny feeling he wasn't going to his maximum,
he was, er, he found that very easy.
That wasn't max, was it?
I mean, I hate to say it,
but he looked like he was ready to go again.
Yes, he was ready to go again. I wasn't!
So, with a VO2 level of 90,
Diesel was working at less than half capacity.
Which goes to show that dogs are exceptional endurance athletes.
I've borrowed a dog to find out for myself.
I hope. Come on, mate, let's go, let's go. Come on.
Breeds with most stamina are those with the closest genetic link
to their wolf ancestors.
Like Crow, my husky running partner.
I'm feeling quite close to MY ancestors right now.
Like a Stone Age huntsman chasing a wild boar through the forest
with my trusty hound.
'Well, maybe not.'
I know. Where's the defibrillator?
Compared to cats, dogs have an enormous aerobic capacity.
Look at these sled dogs here.
They can run for 100 miles a day for seven days in a row.
It's absolutely phenomenal, and the reason that they're so aerobically
fit is that they're more efficient at getting oxygen to their muscles.
They have more blood vessels going to those muscles,
and relatively speaking, they have a much larger heart.
So that, too, is more efficient at pumping the blood around the body.
So dogs can run and run and run.
Ian Forbes is ex-Army.
Now an expedition medic, he thrives in extreme environments.
Obviously a tough guy like Ian has a dog to match.
Marnie is his long-haired Chihuahua!
Taken out from a very young age,
it was obvious that she enjoyed running.
So I just put my running stuff on and started running with her.
She finds it really easy, she doesn't find it a stretch, she
just enjoys that opportunity to go out in the woods, the same as I do.
She does about three miles each time we go out.
Dogs make great training partners,
they never don't want to go out with you.
It's just sometimes the strange looks that you get
when a man runs past with a little tiny Chihuahua running behind him.
Come on, good girl. Come on.
As you can see, she is very fit, she's strong.
It's the power-to-weight ratio.
When I lift her up I can feel
that her heart isn't beating that fast at all.
She is the Mo Farah of dogs - no gold medals yet,
but it won't be that long.
So, when it comes to endurance, the dogs have the staying power.
We're ready for the final score now.
Dogs took the prize for intelligence.
While cats won the battle of the senses.
Physical agility is going to be the decider.
And it has to go to those fast-running, high-jumping cats.
So, at the final whistle it's 2-1 to the cats,
who win tonight's show.
Well, that about wraps it up for our battle of cats and dogs, Chris.
It certainly does, and I think we
can say that dogs definitely come
out on top when it comes
to complex intelligence.
Their senses are pretty hot - particularly smell -
and endurance athletes can't beat 'em.
Hang on a second, if you look at other aspects of physicality,
cats are the born leaders
and when it comes to the senses,
their vision is better,
their hearing is better,
and with that vomeronasal organ they gain so much
information from their environment - that's pretty special too.
I think there is one thing we can agree on,
and that is that over the millennia, both cats
and dogs have evolved to fulfil their ecological niches so that they
are brilliant survivors,
and the animals that we know and love today.
Next time, with the help of scientists from around the world,
we'll be putting our pets through some more fascinating
and ground-breaking tests in Round Two
of the battle of the species between cats and dogs.
You may be surprised by the results.
# Pussy cat, pussy cat...
# I love you...
-I do. #
We all like to think that our pets know what we're saying to them.
I think that's Dinah.
But we'll be testing which animal is better at understanding us...
..how well they can be trained...
And we'll be revealing some brand-new science
to find out whether our pets might actually love us.
Currently it's a love-hate relationship.
I think he loves us a lot.
Do you like me?
And then we'll finally answer the big question, which is best -
cats or dogs?
I can't wait. I mean, everyone knows
that dogs are man's best friend, Liz.
I'm not paying a blind bit of attention to what you're saying -
-I'm cuddling a kitten. We'll see you next time.
Based at one of Britain's largest cat and dog veterinary centres, Chris and Liz go head to head to test different aspects of each animal. A specially commissioned nationwide pet census also reveals exactly how the public feel about our canine chums and feline friends. Round one begins with intelligence as Chris and Liz find out whether either species can understand numbers. In Vienna, Chris is astonished to discover that dogs can discriminate between higher and lower numbers of dots and in a UK first, Liz tries out the test on cats with surprising results.
Round two tests their sensory powers to work out which animal has the better vision, sense of smell and hearing. Our cats and dogs have to negotiate a maze in the dark, but which one will find their way through in the fastest time? Chris challenges top sniffer dog Boris to find him in a distracting busy city and discover which species has the widest range of hearing. The final round looks at whether cats or dogs are the most physically agile by testing which can jump the highest, which is the fastest sprinter and which the best endurance runner. With so many groundbreaking tests, who will be in the lead at the end of episode one?
On their search for answers, Chris comes face to face with a pack of wolves, whilst Liz confronts an Arabian wild cat to discover how the relationships between cats and dogs and humans have evolved. Together, they put our favourite pets under the microscope to see what really makes them tick and crucially, how they compare with each other.