Research

Cats know that you refer to them by name - even if they choose to ignore

Cats are known for their indifferent attitudes towardspeople: any cat breeder can confirm that these fluffies ignore us when we call them by name. However, a study published recently in Scientific Reports shows that domestic cats recognize their own names — even if they go away during a call or ignore them.

Does the cat know your name?

Atsuko Saito, behavioral specialistResearch at Tokyo University, has previously shown that cats can recognize the voices of their owners. In her last study, she narrowed down the question, finding out if they were responding to the sound of her name. The study included 78 cats from the Japanese "cat cafe". (Such cafes, where visitors can play with furry animals, are popular in Tokyo and began to gain popularity in London and New York).

During their experiments, Saito and her colleaguesused what behavioral psychologists call the habituation-dishabituation method. It involves repeated exposure of the subjects to a stimulus (in this case, by pronouncing a word) until the subject ceases to show any reaction. Then the subject is given a test stimulus (in this case, his name) and the scientists observe the reaction. This step helps to eliminate the reaction to random stimuli.

In a new study, scientists first forcedcat owners repeat four words that resembled their cats' names, until cats got used to these words. Then the owners called the real names and the scientists tried to see if individual cats (if they lived among other cats) could respond to the call. It turned out that cats demonstrate a more pronounced reaction to their own names — move their ears, tails, heads, or meow — rather than to similar words or the names of other cats.

Then scientists asked people unfamiliar withcats, say their names to see if their cats recognize. Although their reactions were less noticeable in relationships with strangers, they still learned their names after they got used to other words.

"This new study clearly shows thatmany cats respond to their own names, pronounced by their owners, ”says biologist John Bradshaw, who studies human interaction with animals at the Institute of Anthrozoology at the University of Bristol. However, Bradshaw doubts that cats can recognize their names when they are pronounced by a stranger. "I think it may well be that some cats are able to summarize the words spoken by different human voices, but here I would like to see more trials before I say that the evidence is convincing," he says.

Saito says she thinks domestic sealslearn to recognize their names for what is behind them. “I think cats associate their names with any rewards or punishments and are unlikely to understand that their names are tied to them. There is no evidence that cats are able to be aware of themselves, like us, so the recognition of their names is different from ours. ” However, in her opinion, cats can be taught to recognize other words. But whether they will willingly respond to commands - as dogs do - is another matter.

“Cats learn as well as dogs,” says Bradshaw. "They simply do not want to show their owners what they have learned."

And most cat owners will probably agree with that. And you? Tell us in our chat in Telegram.

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