News Flash! Cats Know Their Own Names!

A new study suggests household cats can respond to the sound of their own names.


WOW! REALLY???????


Yep, Japanese scientists said they’ve provided the first experimental evidence that cats can distinguish between words that we people say, including recognizing their own names.


Quite a bit of research has been conducted on dogs’ communications skills, determining that some can recognize hundreds of words. But little has been done on how felines communicate with humans.


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.


Maybe they were studying the wrong cats.


I don’t know a single cat lady or cat guy whose cats don’t communicate with them, and vice versa. Some of our cats are more vocal than others, exhibiting an impressive vocabulary. My dear departed Siamese, Mao, had an amazing vocabulary, and range of inflections. Tripper the Psycho Stray Cat is less vocal than Mao, but has a comprehensive understanding of our language. He obeys verbal commands, and truly understands everything we say to him.


The nonverbal king of communication is Max, whose withering glare sends his woman or the gas man off to find steak to placate him.


Given the nature of cats, I think this kind of study really needs to be done inside the home–not a lab setting–observing the daily give and take between species.


Certainly, some communication can be attributed to the tone of a human’s voice or behaviors (like running the can opener), but I really believe that we communicate with our furry feline friends. What’s your experience?

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Category: Featured, Lifestyle

About the Author ()

Mousebreath Magazine is an award-winning online magazine that celebrates cats and the cat-centric lifestyle. Editor Karen Nichols is a popular conference speaker and writer, whose current project is The Cat Scout Handbook. She is also the denmaster at CatScouts.com.

Comments (3)

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  1. Of course cats know their own names!

  2. Snickerdoodle says:

    Katrina, the queen of the cats who came before, understood human very well. The human would ask her “Where is Willy?” and she would stare at where Willy was, whether in a closet upstairs or on the cat tree in another room, the human only had to follow the stare, even through ceilings and walls and there he was.

  3. ERin says:

    I am pleased that somebody has made a start on such research, but to not do it in a home environment and with cats that are clearly ‘in the know’ as it were, is maybe a bit short sighted. But should we expect any less from some humans.
    I for one understand everything and have selective amnesia or just plain ignore the gibberish that some humans spout.
    Purrs
    ERin

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