Cats can recognise their names, study shows

Cats can recognise their names, study shows

Does your cat know its name? While dogs often respond to their name and other familiar words, cats are less likely to come when they are called and it's hard to know what's going on inside their heads!

But now scientists in Japan have demonstrated that felines are perfectly capable of recognising their names when called.

A team led Dr Atsuko Saito at Sophia University in Tokyo recruited 78 cats from local homes and 'cat cafes' for a study to find out whether cats have any understanding of human speech.

In a series of tests, researchers played each cat a recording of their owners saying four different words with lengths and accents similar to its name, followed by its actual name.

As the random words were played, the cats became less and less interested. But when they heard their name, most showed responses indicating recognition, such as pricking up their ears or moving their heads.

Similar responses were seen when the cat's name came after the names of other felines it lived with, or when a stranger spoke the words.

Reporting their findings in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers wrote: "These cats discriminated their own names from general nouns even when unfamiliar persons uttered them.

"These results indicate that cats are able to discriminate their own names from other words."

Cats may recognise their name because it's the word they hear most often, or because they associate it with something positive, like petting or food, or a stressful situation such as a trip to the vet, the researchers suggest.

But while all of the cats were able to distinguish between general nouns and their own name, those living in a cat cafe did not discriminate their own names from the names of other cats they lived with.

This may be because the cats associate all of the names being called with familiar rewards.

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