New research in Japan’s cat cafes reveals that our cats are more attentive than we thought
Cats know a lot: how to catch mice, what the sound of the can opener means, and even how to take control of the Internet.
But the only question Atsuko Saito, the cat expert, always asks is whether cats recognize their own name,an ability that is well known in dogs.
In a new study published in Scientific Reports, the psychologist at Sophia University in Tokyo Showed that they Know their names even when strangers call them.
Cats are Saito’s favorite animal, and after studying primate cognition at college, she became interested in pets that are often misunderstood.
(Everything you think about cats is wrong?)
“I love cats. They’re so cute and selfish. When they want us to touch them, they come to me, but when they want us to leave them alone, they leave,” she laughs.
Her past experiences have shown that cats can interpret human actions to find hidden food, recognize the voice of their owner and beg for food from someone who looks at them and calls them by name, suggesting that cats know their name.
Saito and his colleagues tested this hypothesis by observing a total of 78 domestic cats and felines living in cat cafes in Japan.
In homes and cafés, researchers asked homeowners and strangers to call a cat’s name, and then videotaped responses that would indicate recognition, such as ear and head movements and tail flapping.
In a series of four different experiments, the team discovered that cats reacted significantly to their own names – even after hearing four similarly sounding names or the names of other cats living at home or in the cat café. (Read how to properly train your cat.)
Cats showed interest not only when their owners called them by name, but also when strangers did so.
Cats may have learned to associate the sound of their name with rewards, such as food and caresses,” says Saito.