Your cat may not come when called, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t listen. (Sorry, she just ignored you.)
Recent studies show that domestic cats may share some of the same language recognition skills as dogs. In a 2019 paper in the journal Scientific Reports, a team of Japanese researchers say they have demonstrated that cats can recognize their own names in a wide range of spoken words. Now, new research from some of the same scientists suggests that this familiarity may extend to domestic feline friends as well.
In an article published April 13 at Scientific reports, researchers quizzed 48 domestic cats about the names of their fellow cats with whom they lived. Twenty-nine cats are residents of Japanese cat cafes – cafes where customers can freely interact with cats while perhaps fishing with their coffee machines – while 19 The rest come from private residences where three or more cats are kept. .
For each cat study participant, the researchers played a recording of the cat’s owner calling another living cat’s name several times in succession. After the fourth call, the researchers showed the participants a photo on a laptop screen; in two of the four subsequent tests, the photo showed the face of the cat the owner had called (this is known as “gay status”), while in the remaining tests the photo showed saw the face of a cohabiting cat that was different from the one the owner called (“irrational condition”).
The researchers found that domestic cats, but not cafe cats, often stared at screens for longer when unusual images were on the screen – suggesting that the cats violated their expectations and are trying to grapple with the fact that their feline friends’ names and faces don’t line up.
“We have demonstrated that cats expect a specific face when hearing a specific name of a companion,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “This study provides evidence that cats associate a companion’s name with the corresponding face without explicit training.”
Interestingly, the researchers wrote that the cafe cats did not pay much attention to the screen during the anomaly and paid less attention to the tests than the domestic cats. This suggests that cafe cats are less familiar with individual feline friends than domestic cats, and that they may be less likely to hear individual cat names, the authors write.
Domestic cats, on the other hand, tend to hear their companion’s names more often — especially during feeding, when naming cats determines which animals eat and which do not, the researchers said. This can give the domestic cat more opportunity and more incentive to associate the companion cat’s name with its face.
Of course, any study of domestic cat behavior must be done with a grain of catnip, given the challenges of keeping the cat’s focus. Although the domestic cats in the study focused on dissimilar images for longer, on average, compared with similar images, the time difference amounted to only a few dozen frames of footage (only a second or two).
And that’s when the cats decided to pay attention. The team admits that some of the tests were excluded from the team’s analysis because the cat refused to look at the screen at all. One cat had to be excluded from the study after deciding that this whole science was not for her.
Originally published on Live Science.
https://www.livescience.com/cats-remember-names Cats remember their friends’ names