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

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

UVic partners with harm reduction groups to run a drug checking pilot project

The three-year pilot will allow people to test their drugs for fatal ingredients like fentanyl

Public asked to give feedback on proposed protection measures for southern resident orcas

Measures focus on key threats related to contaminants, lack of prey, noise or physical disturbance

Woman sentenced to time served, 3 years probation for Oak Bay arson

This comes after defendent spent 150 days in jail

Oak Bay double murder trial enters second week

Defence continues to question police handling of crime scene

WATCH: Police call Happy Valley shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident

One person in custody, another fled following crash on Kelly Road

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Duncan-Nanaimo’s Funkanometry bow out of ‘World of Dance’ with ‘After Hours’ routine

Judges praised them as entertainers, and urged them to work a bit more on their dancing

Most Read