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Cat Brains Have Dwindled in Size Since Domestication, Study Finds

A recent study published by the Royal Society Open Science Journal has confirmed that domestication has significantly shrunk the feline brain.

Cats are often thought of as being cunning, intelligent, sassy and, at times, devious. Anyone that is friends with a cat person knows how much people can praise general cat IQ. There are even memes dedicated to this subject floating around the internet.

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To some extent, all of this commotion about cats' intelligence is scientifically accurate and not just the bias of cat lovers everywhere. In fact, cats have more nerve cells in the part of their brains responsible for memory, planning, and problem-solving than most other mammals, humans included.

That said, a study recently published in the Royal Society Open Science Journal notes that the skull size of domesticated house cats is significantly smaller than that of European and African wildcats. Reduced skull size obviously equals reduced brain size, and therefore the brains of modern house cats are quite a bit smaller than their ancestors'.

The purpose of this study was actually to replicate earlier studies done in the late 1960s and early '70s, and researchers achieved their goal: the new findings mirrored the old. Researchers noted that it is important to replicate such studies because "they are the foundation to many currently debated hypotheses." And further, "[scientists] have to put effort into establishing that our basic findings are solid and replicable."

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All of that said, the smaller brain of the modern, domesticated cat doesn't necessarily equal lowered intelligence. In the words of Dr. Lorie Hutson of PetMD, "relative brain size isn't always the best indicator of intelligence." In other words, while smaller skulls equal smaller brains, smaller brains don't equal lowered IQ.

So, cat people, take a breath and continue praising your brainy felines as long as you like.

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