Some cat owners are adamant that their pets know their own name while others believe they have no idea if they are calling their name or reading a passage from Shakespeare. However, new research suggests that your cat might know its name after all.
Cats are typically known for their aloof nature. So what if they might understand their own name after all? It turns out that they aren’t alone. Dogs have been man’s best friend for years and are known to recognize their name. However, studies have shown that dolphins, parrots, and apes all acknowledge their name, too. As if that wasn’t enough, all of these animals have proved that they have some kind of understanding of other words and what they could mean. Scientists wanted to know if cats could shake the reputation that has followed them around for so long.
Creating a test
Dr. Atsuko Saito works at Sophia University in Tokyo. The Japanese team of scientists searched high and low to find 78 different cats from all walks of life. This included pet cats that live at home as well as those that reside in cat cafes. They wanted to know if all of them could understand their name. They decided to record four spoken words, followed by their name. These were spoken by the researchers and their owners, and the cats were given no human interaction at the time to try and gauge a genuine reaction.
Recording the reactions
The team of researchers watched closely to see if they could spot any differences in their behavior. This was anything from moving their tails or ears to looking toward the recording. Some of the owners insisted their cats recognize their names and the words used for food, but this test would answer once and for all. The team noticed that all of the cats initially reacted to the recording as it was first played. However, they soon got acquainted with the noise and allowed the scientists to conduct a fairer test.
The results were in, and it was time to see if cats really do know their own name. The scientists revealed that the cats in the test were sensitive to differences in the characteristics of someone’s voice. It looked as though the cats really were responding to their names. However, things might not be as they seem. Other researchers stated that cats could associate their names with treats or negative emotions, such as trips to the vet. Plus, the cats from cat cafes appeared to respond to any of the other names of cats they lived with opposed to just their own.
While we might not have a definitive answer as to how well our feline friends recognize their name, it looks as though we’re one step closer to learning how a cat recognizes its name. Whether they know their names or just associate the word with food, perhaps our pet cats aren’t as antisocial as we first thought?