All cat owners will tell you that their cat is able to respond to their name. However from a scientific perspective this theory has been a subject of debate for long time. Can a new research study reveal the answer?
We all know that dogs are able to respond to their name. However when it come to cats, it is a little more complicated. Some cat might respond to you while others will just give you a blank stare. It remains to be seen whether this behaviour is voluntary or not. This new study aimed to understand whether cat really are capable of recognising their own name. So we can find out we need to head to Japan where the research was carried out. The details were then published in Scientific Reports.
Researchers from Sophia University in Tokyo, have recently observed the behaviour of 78 cats both in Japanese households and also in cat cafes. In general, the concept involved asking the cats owner or a researcher who was unknown to the cat to pronounce as series of four different words in front of the cat. Initially, the word sequences included words without any interest, while others included the names of other cats. The goal was to completely lose the cat’s interest. Finally, after a while, four word sequences which included the cat’s name were said.
This protocol was repeated in four different experiments. The first tested the capabilities of domestic cats when recognising there own name from general names. The second experiment tested the capabilities of cats that regularly lived with at least four other cats to distinguish their name from the other cats. The third test was a repeated version of the second test but with general words instead of names of other cats. The final test aimed to determine whether the cats could recognise their name from general names when said by strangers.
Cameras were installed so that the cat’s ocular movements could be examined including the cat’s head, tail and ears. Researchers were also able to analyse whether the cat changed position. The aim was to establish whether the cat really reacted to their name being called. A notation system was used to evaluate the number of characteristics displayed by a cat upon hearing its name being called. Each characteristic displayed received 0.5 points with a maximum score of 2.5 points. The same notation system was used for the four experiments.
The experiment results showed that domestic cats were effectively able to recognise their name being called. They were capable of distinguishing their name even if they lived with other cats or their name was said by a stranger. However cats that were tested in cat cafes had a very average score. Therefore everything depends on the social environment of the cat. In a cafe there are a lot more cats so it is easy for the cats to lose concentration.
In general, this scientific experiment is the first real proof that cats are able to respond to their name with these types of stimuli. On a final note, if your cat tends to ignore you when you call it, know that it is ignoring you on purpose! Cat really have a mind of their own!