Smell. Dogs even the score with their sense of smell. There’s a reason why you don’t see drug-sniffing cats, and it’s not just because cats aren’t exactly amenable to clocking in for a 9-to-5 shift at the police station. While cats have a better sense of smell than humans do — really, we’re pretty worthless in the nose department — the canine sense of smell is nothing short of astonishing. Most dogs have a face that’s really nothing but nose, and their ability to detect and distinguish odors is in the range of four times better than a cat’s.
Perhaps that assessment is unfair, though. After all, we love our pets for other reasons. Cats are beautiful and soft, and stroking them has been shown to reduce stress. Then again, dogs are also good stress-busters: owning one can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. What’s more, Fido has other health benefits. Daily dog walks may be a chore, but they repay the effort, not just in terms of regular exercise, but also by providing immune-boosting opportunities for social contact with other dog walkers. That’s why in a head-to-head contest of health benefits, it’s dogs all the way ( British Journal of Health Psychology , vol 12, p 145 ).