Do cats recognize their name? You thought your cat did not answer your calls because it did not understand its name? Well, no. He ignores you. A new study of feline behavior has indeed shown that cats are quite capable of recognizing their first name when called.


Previous studies have already shown that some animals, such as dogs, dolphins, and even parrots, can recognize their names when spoken by a human. So, do cats recognize their name? On the other hand, and also if some cat owners claim that the animal knows its first name, it has never been scientifically proven that cats can recognize their name.

Cats recognize their names 

A study by Japanese scientists shows that cats can recognize their names, among other phonetically similar words. Cats recognize their name but do not necessarily want to show it to us: this is the conclusion of a study published Thursday, April 4, in the scientific journal Scientific Reports.

“Unlike dogs, the ability of domestic cats to communicate with humans has not been fully explored,” say researchers at the University of Tokyo. To fill this gap, the Japanese Atsuko Saito and her team carried out a series of experiments on 78 domestic cats (Felis catus) and others living in cat bars.

They used the so-called “habituation-dishabituation” method: they broadcast to the cats the vocal recording of five words, read by their master, or by a stranger. The first four words were the same length and the same rhythm as the cat’s name, which acted as the fifth word.

Scientists explain, however, that cats may not be aware of their name, but instead react to a sound they are used to hearing and associated with a reward (caress, food).

By their master or a stranger

The researchers examined the reactions of the animals (movements of the head, ears, tail, etc.) when reading this list. And while the cats expressed no interest in the first four words, most of them reacted – sometimes in very subtle ways – when they heard their names. And it doesn’t matter if it is spoken by their master or by a stranger.

Small nuance, however, for the felines living in the cat bars, which are less sensitive to their name than the others. This could be explained by the fact that many people pass through this place, and that many different names of cats are pronounced, making their identification more complicated.

Most cats choose to ignore 

For researchers, “cats can discriminate the content of human expressions on the basis of phonemic differences”. So if they can recognize their names, why don’t they always react when called? Simply because they chose to ignore us, Atsuko Saito told the international scientific magazine New Scientist, “Cats are not made to respond to human signals. They will communicate with humans whenever they want. “

However, if he is well aware that you are soliciting him for any reason, that does not mean that he will cooperate (“no kidding?” Say the owners of stubborn hairballs). Indeed, the Metro site recalls that a 2013 study carried out by the University of Tokyo suggests that cats are perfectly capable of recognizing their master’s voice but that they mostly choose to ignore their calls.

The research focused on 20 domestic cats to which were submitted recordings of 4 unknown voices and the voice of their owner. It has been observed that cats react more to their human voice (thanks to the movements of their tail, head, ears, dilated pupil, etc.), but that this does not encourage them to move.

How to explain such a big behavioral difference with dogs? 

This is due to the evolutionary biology of each species: unlike dogs that live in packs, cats are solitary hunters and do not need a group that keeps them alive. They do not consider their master as the pack leader as the dog does. You know everything! This will probably save you from breaking your voice the next time your tomcat doesn’t even deign to look at you when you call him.

Cats are different than dogs

Scientists point out that the relationship of a cat and a dog to its owner is the complete opposite. The history of domestication can explain this difference. That of the dog dates back several thousand years. The canines were trained to obey and respond to orders.

The history of the domestication of the cat, on the other hand, goes back only to 9,000 years, at the time of the appearance of agriculture. The felines were bred to hunt rodents threatening grain stocks, but never learned to respond to orders. Cat “domesticated himself,” the study says. A conclusion which agrees with the opinion of Dr. John Bradshaw, British anthropologist.

A cat loves its master

It is true to say that a cat loves its master, even if the term “master” is not appropriate to define this form of relationship. Indeed, the cat is relatively independent and, even if he likes you, he also likes to do what he wants when he loves it! He’s the master at home more often than you!

However, your pet recognizes you and knows who you are, even in the crowd. He analyzes you from a distance. He observes and understands you. Indeed, a tomcat is very quickly able to decipher the behaviors, habits, and lifestyle of the humans with whom it lives. He knows to whom and when to ask for food, petting, a treat, a moment of play, etc. This talent of his own allows him to obtain satisfaction for sure!

This attachment to the master is durable and lasting. This explains why some cats travel miles to find their families. Any separation is difficult for the cat, which feels abandoned as soon as you are no longer there. He is worried, and he misses you because he needs the routine you bring him and your presence.

How do cats recognize their name?

To get your cats to recognize their name, do the following steps

#Step 1: Start by calling him every time you feed him (several light meals a day made from his favorite food). Make noise by filling the bowl and its bowl with water and placing them on the floor: it will come running. Then offer him his food before saying the word “come” (always use the same word) and pronouncing his name. Repeat his name. Soon, he will associate this word with his meal.

#Step 2: As you teach, you will get further and further away from him, and will only give him his reward when he gets near you. Repeat this learning every day, always moving away from the cat and systematically saying the same word “come” and its name: it will learn to come to you when you call it, knowing that it will have a reward.

#Step 3: When it is done, call it now and then, to give it a treat. Gradually replace the gifts with comforting words. Soon even if you delete his reward as soon as you tell him to come and say his name, he will come to you.

How long until cats recognize their name?

Many beginner cats are asking me when do cats recognize their name. By long experience with cats, I can answer you briefly. That depends on the kitten or the cat.

If your cat doesn’t like you, they may know their name, but they won’t answer you. Cats, on the other hand, love you. They will wag their tails, purr, and will even run to you. I once had a feral cat, and he realized I had saved him. I immediately gave him a name, and he realized it. No kidding. The kittens are very smart.

For the cat to quickly recognize his name, you should feed him and pet him before you call it. Besides, remember to give it bonus cakes when they understand that you are calling them. I think your cat will only take a week if you do this with high frequency.

Final Thoughts

Scientists are still doing many cat studies to get the most accurate assessment of their behavior. As a previous study said cats have a very close relationship with owners and are willing to stop eating if they think it will help you interact with humans. So, do cats recognize their name? Cats recognize their names when called. They are just ignoring you.Z


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