Dogs and cats tend to have different responses to having their names called. Dogs tend to snap to attention and seek out their owners, while cats tend to show little if any response. At least, that’s what anecdotal evidence says. However, is this the case? A recent study examines if cats do recognize their names.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, details 77 different cats used in four separate experiments conducted over three years. Cats ranged from 6 months of age to 17 years old and were of both genders. Researchers recorded their voices and the voices of the cats’ owners saying five words. The first four words were ones that sounded similar to each cat’s name with the fifth being the actual name. The experiment was to show if cats could tell the difference between their names and those of other cats they live with.
Researchers were looking to see if cats responded to their names while giving no response upon hearing the first four words. The way they decided that cats were responding to the word was if they had head or ear movement (or in rare cases, moving their tails or bodies) when their name was called. Researchers found that cats who had weak responses to similar-sounding words or the names of other cats were significantly more likely to respond to their names.
A big reason for the differences in the social behaviors of cats and dogs is that one, dogs are a social species while cats are territorial. The second is that dogs were domesticated for a 20 times longer period then cats. Consequently cats still exhibit more wild behavior. The best way to communicate more with your cats is to respond to them when they indicate they want to interact with you.
Saito, Atsuko, et al. “Domestic Cats ( Felis Catus ) Discriminate Their Names from Other Words.” Nature News Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 4 Apr. 2019, www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-40616-4.