Cats are Listening, and They Know Your Name - Study
Knowing one’s name is a trait more commonly associated with dogs than cats, but recent studies have shown that cats can learn their own name, and one study suggests that they can learn a lot more than that.
In a new study published in Nature, Japanese researchers demonstrated that cats are capable of not just learning their names, but learning the names of their human owners and other cats they live with.
The study focused on cats in multi-cat home settings and cat cafes, establishments that are popular in Japan where patrons visit and interact with upwards of 50 cats at a time.
Researchers displayed images of cats to a cat that would be familiar with them and then played either an audio clip of the owner saying the name of that cat or an incorrect name. The study showed that cats in multi-cat homes stared at the picture longer when the incorrect name was played, suggesting that they were puzzled by the mismatch.
1 March, 14:00 GMT
Cats who resided in cat cafes did not show the same behavior, perhaps because they live with too many cats to learn their names and have fewer opportunities to learn them because there is a constant stream of strange humans coming in and out of the cafe.
The effect was greater in cats from multi-cat homes that had multiple people living in them, likely because they have more opportunities to hear names being said.
“I want people to know the truth,” Saho Takagi, a research fellow specializing in animal science at Azabu University who started the study when she worked at Kyoto University, told The Asahi Shimbun, “Felines do not appear to listen to people's conversations, but as a matter of fact, they do.”
However, the researchers note that more research is needed. They still do not understand much about social learning in cats and this study only focused on a few dozen cats, so it will need to be replicated before it becomes accepted science.