Study reveals that cats can recognise the names of other felines and their owners

Cat owner holding ginger cat cat-wow © Alena Ozerova - Shutterstock

Cats are not as indifferent as they seem. A study shows that they can recognise the names of other cats and people in their homes.

By Emilie Heyl

Published on the

Cats have a reputation for being lonely and distant. Yet felines are more present than we think.

In recent years, scientists have shown that cats bond deeply with their owners. They communicate with us and even follow our movements.

The extraordinary ability of cats

A new study published in April 2022 and reported by Science Alert has revealed that cats have the ability to recognise the names of other people they know.

Even better, they are able to recognise the names of people who live in the same household.

To find out more about the cognitive abilities of cats, the scientists showed a photo to cats living with other felines. In addition to the picture, a voice recording was used to pronounce a cat's name out loud.

The researchers wanted to know how the cats reacted. They discovered that felines tend to stare at the image for longer. On the other hand, cats living in catteries did not show any particular reaction: "probably because there are more cats in the structures, the name of each cat is pronounced less frequently", explained animal science researcher Saho Takagi from Azabu University in Japan.

In a second experiment, the researchers used images of people as a stimulus for domestic cats.

Once again, the cats stared at the picture for longer, especially when the animals tested had lived longer in the family and the families were larger.

"Cats living with more people have more opportunities to hear names used than cats living with fewer people, and living with a family for longer increases this experience," the researchers say. 

The next challenge is now to find out how the felines manage to make these different associations: "We still don't understand how they develop this association in their living environment.

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