As you may already know, we’re a big fan of feline and canine studies. They give us insight into the four-legged friends in our lives, and many of them yield surprising results. More recently, a study was conducted by Japanese researchers to see if domestic cats can discern their names from other words.
“In contrast to dogs,” stated the study, “the ability of domestic cats to communicate with humans has not been explored thoroughly. We used a habituation-dishabituation method to investigate whether domestic cats could discriminate human utterances, which consisted of cats’ own names, general nouns, and other cohabiting cats’ names.” Interestingly, among the cats that were chosen to participate in the study were house cats as well as cat café cats. While the domestic cats could recognize their names and could distinguish their owner’s voice from a stranger’s voice, the cat café cats recognized their names plus the names of the other cats at the café. This could be simply because the café cats were exposed to the names of all the cats so often with people coming and going, and (adorably so), they recognized not just their own names, but the names of their fellow cat friends as well.
Researchers aren’t just interested in whether cats know their names; they’re interested in how cats choose to communicate with their owners in general. Recently, feline studies are being conducted to find out more about the “social referencing behavior” in our furry friends. So far, we know that cats are attuned to their owners in that they understand the human pointing gesture, and will look to their owners if they are put in a potentially fearful situation. There is some research to suggest that cats can even discern a positive versus negative affect or mood on a human face. While fascinating, these research studies sometimes just confirm what we already know – cats are geniuses!
What do you think? Are you surprised cats know their names, or have you always known with your kitty? Share in the comments below!