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)

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

A cache of 89 crabs was discovered during a 2018 compliance inspection at South Surrey’s Elgin Park Marina. (Contributed photo)
$7,500 fine for illegal crab harvest discovered in South Surrey

Laird Goddyn found guilty in Surrey Provincial Court following 2018 investigation

South Surrey’s Meridian Golf Course – a 15-acre property that also includes a residence – has been sold. (Colliers Canada photo)
South Surrey’s Meridian Golf Course sold to new owners

Deal for popular par 3 course expected to close by end of the year

Gerry Vowles (left), Michael Cook, and Dave Sinclair were awarded “Dominion Command Presidential Citations” June 17 in Cloverdale. The rare awards were given out for “exemplary service to the Legion.” (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Three B.C. legionnaires awarded ‘Presidential Citations’

Ceremony took place in Cloverdale June 17

Kaushal Parikh raised $2,840 for COVID-19 relief in India during his almost nine-hour run around the new North Delta Secondary School track on Sunday, June 13, 2021. (Submitted photo)
North Delta ultramarathoner raises over $2,800 for COVID relief in India

Kaushal Parikh ran the 90-km virtual Comrades Marathon around the NDSS track in under nine hours

City of Surrey photo
Surrey starts Slow Streets pilot project

Speed limits have been reduced in six Surrey neighbourhood zones for one year to monitor impact on residents

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

Most Read