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

Esquimalt gives six-storey rental complex the green light

A new apartment building is set to go up on Admirals Road

WATCH: Our Place Therapeutic Recovery Community turns into a ‘place of healing’

500 volunteers, 120 businesses worked to transform View Royal community

A party for 11 pups and their adoptive families in Beckwith Park in Saanich

The coonhound siblings reunited at a barbeque on Saturday

HarbourCats bats hot in home return

Victoria squad downs Yakima Valley Pippins 17-2

Victoria veteran receives French Legion of Honour, becoming knight of France

Ted Vaughan was a pilot in the 408 “Goose” Squadron in WW2

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

Most Read