Does Your Cat Know Their Name?

Susan’s Cat Yoshi

I like to think that mine know their names, but if in a mood, they will just choose to ignore me. This is the first experimental evidence that shows cats can differentiate the words we say.

A new study says cats do respond when you call their name. It’s not so much that they know what the name means, but they associate the sound with getting food, treats or affection. Since cats hear their names a lot, it becomes special to them. Japanese scientists said Thursday that they’ve provided the first experimental evidence that cats can distinguish between words that we people say.

From Yahoo News:

Atsuko Saito of Sophia University in Tokyo says there’s no evidence cats actually attach meaning to our words, not even their own names. Instead, they’ve learned that when they hear their names they often get rewards like food or play, or something bad like a trip to the vet. And they hear their names a lot. So the sound of it becomes special, even if they don’t really understand it refers to their identity.

Saito and colleagues describe the results of their research in the journal Scientific Reports. In four experiments with 16 to 34 animals, each cat heard a recording of its owner’s voice, or another person’s voice, that slowly recited a list of four nouns or other cat’s names, followed by the cat’s own name.

Many cats initially reacted — such as by moving their heads, ears or tails — but gradually lost interest as the words were read. The crucial question was whether they’d respond more to their name.

Sure enough, on average, these cats perked up when they heard their own name.

So by this theory, you could certainly train your cat to come when called.

Susan Saunders 4/4/19

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