FILE - This Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017 photo shows Shelley, an adopted cat, at its new home in Philadelphia. A study released on Thursday, April 4, 2019, suggests house cats respond to the sound of their own names. Researchers said it’s the first experimental evidence that cats can distinguish between words people say. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Meow hear this: Study says cats react to sound of their name

It’s not sentimental: cats know you’ll feed them if they react to their names

Hey Kitty! Yes, you. A new study suggests household cats can respond to the sound of their own names.

No surprise to you or most cat owners, right? But Japanese scientists said Thursday that they’ve provided the first experimental evidence that cats can distinguish between words that we people say.

So you’re kind of like dogs, whose communication with people has been studied a lot more, and who’ve been shown to recognize hundreds of words if they’re highly trained. Sorry if the comparison offends you, Kitty.

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.

Saito and colleagues describe the results of their research in the journal Scientific Reports. In four experiments with 16 to 34 animals, each cat heard a recording of its owner’s voice, or another person’s voice, that slowly recited a list of four nouns or other cat’s names, followed by the cat’s own name.

READ MORE: ‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

READ MORE: Leash your cat or face a $150 fine in Victoria

Many cats initially reacted — such as by moving their heads, ears or tails — but gradually lost interest as the words were read. The crucial question was whether they’d respond more to their name.

Sure enough, on average, these cats perked up when they heard their own name.

Kristyn Vitale, who studies cat behaviour and the cat-human bond at Oregon State University in Corvallis but didn’t participate in the new work, said the results “make complete sense to me.”

Vitale, who said she has trained cats to respond to verbal commands, agreed that the new results don’t mean that cats assign a sense of self to their names. It’s more like being trained to recognize a sound, she said.

Monique Udell, who also studies animal behaviour at Oregon State, said the study shows “cats are paying attention to you, what you say and what you do, and they’re learning from it.”

___

Malcolm Ritter, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Port Alberni students meet federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh at rally

Singh posts trending video to TikTok, says reaching youth on their level is important

VIDEO: Saanich resident shocked when trespasser licks security camera, rummages through mail

‘I found the situation really bizarre,’ said the Gordon Head resident

BC Ferries crew member taken to hospital after getting struck by bow doors

Two sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled

Hundreds come out to meet federal NDP leader at Port Alberni rally

Pipelines, a coalition government and reconciliation among topics Jagmeet Singh covers

Port Alberni receives provincial funding for food hub

Seafood processing hub will be operated by Port Alberni Port Authority

ELECTION 2019: It’s so close, it could come down to who turns out to vote

Black Press Media’s polling analyst on the origins of predictive seat modelling in Canada

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Most Read