When you scream calling Travis all over the house, and Travis doesn’t show up: does he do it on purpose and ignore you felinely Or, on the contrary, it does not know that you are looking for it? Two hours later, you open the closet in the room, and there it is: your precious cat peacefully asleep, curled up on your wool sweater.
What does my cat ask me when it meows? (Keys to understanding the cat language)
If you live with a cat or a cat, this scene may not be strange to you. And you may have wondered if your feline really knows his name. Although you suspect that it does; And you’re not wrong: feline cognition researchers have finally confirmed that our felines recognize their name; and that they can distinguish it between very similar words.
So why doesn’t Travis show up when you call or search him for hours? The study of the behavior of our cats (Felis silvestris catus), along with the improvement of cognitive feline research (finally designed for its peculiar way of understanding the world), sheds light on this mustachioed mystery.
Does my cat know her name? This is what science says
As much as cats do not always understand exactly what we are saying, of course they learn to associate a sound with something good or, conversely, with something bad. For example: the crunch of your food package (good) or the noise of a vacuum cleaner running (bad, for many cats).
Now, as I explain so many times in feline behavior inquiriesWhen you talk to your cat Travis or your kitten Tuesday, he or she probably (and most of all) responds to your tone of voice. In fact, many of us talk to our cats in a slightly higher tone (as we do with children), which is good because it captures their attention. Just what you want with your furry comrade!
There is no question: cats can also learn to recognize sounds that indicate specific consequences, such as “food” (ie: “I hear the crunch of the tuna can being opened, and I know that my human is preparing dinner for me”) . Or sounds that announce that a little attention and pampering from your favorite human is on the way.
It may be the sound of the kitchen drawer opening (and where your cat has learned that you store food); or the sound of your footsteps on the landing, before entering the door. Your cat has learned to associate these sounds with a positive experience; and thus recognize what they mean. [Aquí te contamos, además, por qué a tu gato le gusta tanto sentarse en tu ordenador.]
Cats Recognize Their Name – Science Says So
And although those of us who love them already suspected it, a study 2019, published in Scientific Reports, has confirmed that cats respond more to the sound of their name than to any other word; even if what we say are words with the same length and with the same accent as their name.
The researchers designed a study in which the cats were able to feel comfortable, that is, no feline had to leave their home (their territory). The cats then heard four words, immediately followed by their name (all of them spoken with the same intonation).
The experiment was repeated with the voice of a strange person. And the researchers recorded the cats ‘responses, as well as their movements, through video recordings made in the cats’ usual environment – their homes or a cat-coffee).
First result: cats rarely respond to their name with the same frenzy that your dog will exhibit. When you call them, hopefully they will turn their ears, or shake their heads. Far fewer cats will wag their tails, and even fewer will respond with meows.
Even so, the researchers conclude (analyzing the results on a four-point scale) that cats differentiate their name from other words; they even distinguish it from the name of other cats they live with.
And then why doesn’t my cat pay attention to me?
As much as Travis understands what you say (at least a few words) much better than you thought, this does not mean that your cat will respond the way you would like.
That is to say: no matter how hard you shout his name, Travis is not going to come out of the closet that he has made his refuge, and where he sleeps so peacefully. Quite the contrary: with those screams, what you will surely achieve is to scare your friend.
That does not mean that cats cannot learn to come when we call them, because of course they do (with some training, and following their rules: technically, “come to the call”). Only that your cat needs a bit of feline ethology, and some pieces of the tuna that he likes so much, to prove it to you.
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