A new study has revealed that cats do in fact respond to their names being called even if they don’t quite understand what their name means.
There’s a common theory that cats are completely oblivious to everything their owners say or do. And to many cats, that might be true. However, new research shows that despite appearances, cats do indeed respond to when their name is being called. They just don’t quite understand the meaning behind that name.
Coming from Tokyo’s Sophia University is the study "Domestic cats (Felis catus) discriminate their names from other words", as published in the journal Scientific Reports on April 4th. The study reveals that while cats don’t attach meaning to words--including their names--they do recognize the pattern of their name and can likely associate that word with either treats, play time, or an unfortunate trip to the vet’s office.
To confirm this, researchers got several groups of cats and performed four experiments. Each experiment had roughly the same structure: a cat would be placed in a room and would have two recordings play for them. One would be the voice of their owner, while the other would be the voice of some random person.
The two voices would begin by saying a number of random nouns. This typically didn’t grab the cat’s attention, but when either voice said the name of the cat, the cat perked up by either moving its head, ears, or tail to indicate attentiveness.
“There are so many studies about dog ability to communicate with humans. We think it is important to show cats’ ability,” said lead author Atsuko Saito in an interview with The Guardian. She added that there’s been a lot of research into dog cognition, but not nearly enough related to cats.
We couldn’t agree more. How about we find out why cats always love knocking stuff off shelves? Or why they occasionally feel the need to completely shred a roll of toilet paper? Or how they can sometimes be gone for years when in fact they’re right next door?
Some things are just beyond modern science, it seems.