Tuesday 17 September 2019

Meow research proves cats know their names

 

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

Malcolm Ritter

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

Which will come as no surprise to most cat owners. But Japanese scientists say they've provided the first experimental evidence that cats can distinguish between words we say.

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

Dr Atsuko Saito of Sophia University in Tokyo said there's no evidence cats actually attach meaning to our words. 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.

Dr 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 that slowly recited a list of four nouns or other cat's names, followed by the cat's own name.

The crucial question was whether they'd respond more to their name. Sure enough, on average, they perked up when they heard their own name.

Irish Independent

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