The battle between dog and cat owners just got kicked up a notch, with new research that suggests canines might be smarter than felines.

A study in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy says dogs have more neurons in the part of their brain that is a cognitive powerhouse.

The researchers were comparing the brain sizes of different carnivores, including lions, brown bears, raccoons, hyenas, mongooses and ferrets, and measuring the number of neurons in each of their brains. Dogs and cats were among the animals studied and the humans found that dogs have much more of these brain cells in their cerebral cortex than cats.

That large brain region, which is made up of gray matter and has many different parts, is connected to a lot of cognitive function, from memory and language to consciousness and other types of thought.

According to Vanderbilt University, dogs have 530 million neurons in the cerebral cortex — more than double the number cats have.

Humans have in the neighborhood of 16 billion.

Neurons, as pieces of the nervous system, are involved in sending signals and information throughout the body.

“I believe the absolute number of neurons an animal has, especially in the cerebral cortex, determines the richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience,” researcher Suzana Herculano-Houzel said in the university statement. “Our findings mean to me that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can.”

According to the study, a golden retriever had more cortical neurons than larger animals as well, despite having an overall smaller brain: striped hyenas, African lions and brown bears.

It was not the only example of brain size being unrelated to the number of neurons. The researchers said that brown bears had the largest cerebral cortex of the animals studied but only had as many neurons as cats; and raccoon brains are about the size of cats’ but have roughly the same number of neurons as dogs, “which makes them comparable to primates in neuronal density.”

brain-sizes Scientists compared brain sizes and the number of neurons in different carnivores and found that dogs have more of these brain cells than cats, among other revelations. Photo: Suzana Herculano-Houzel/Vanderbilt