The study found that these animals link the names and faces of celebrities and other cats, but we still do not understand how cats develop this connection within their living environments.
In recent years, scientists have shown that cats are actually closely related to humans, and that these complex creatures can communicate with us and even track our movements when we are not around.
Even more surprisingly, cats can recognize their human names, which is often the case with dogs, and new research now shows that this could go beyond what we knew before.
Cats listen to us in silence
In a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists found that in addition to recognizing cat names, they also appear to be able to recognize the names of other cats known to them. She may also know the names of the people who live with her in the same house.
It may seem a little strange to think that your cat might know your name, but because dogs can be trained to remember the names of hundreds of different things, it should probably not be too surprising for a cat to remember your name. .
The most unusual thing the authors point out is that these seemingly distant creatures have listened to us secretly as we talk all this time.
Zoologist Saho Takagi, who is currently at Azabu University in Japan, said in a statement to The Asahi Shimbun newspaper, published on May 14, “We discovered an amazing thing … I want to know.” “Real people Cunning cats may not seem to hear people talking, but they do.”
How did scientists find out?
In the experiments, Takagi and his research colleagues studied cats that lived in multiple dwellings, such as domestic cats living with other mates in a multi-cat house, or cats living in “cat cafes” in Japan, where visitors could interact with numerous living cats. in the enterprise.
In the experiment, the researchers presented the cat they were looking at with a picture of another cat they were familiar with, either from the same house or a cafe (called a “typical cat”), with a picture of that cat displayed on a computer. . screen.
As the image is displayed on the computer screen, a recording of a person saying the name of a typical typical cat will be displayed aloud, this is called “matching state” because the cat and its name are identical, or it means another name that does not apply to the picture of this cat and this is called the “mismatch condition”.
What the team found was that domestic cats spent more time staring at the computer screen during the “incompatible state”, probably because they were confused or intrigued by a picture of a typical cat that you know did not match the name. her.
However, the cats from the cat café did not show the same delay on the computer during the experiment, probably because they lived in flats with many other cats and not just a few, and were probably less familiar or less familiar with the selected model cats. . and their name as well.
In their paper, the researchers write that only domestic cats expected a specific cat face when they heard a particular name, indicating that they matched the cat name stimulated to a specific face.
The research team believes that cats can learn these types of relationships with names and faces by observing people’s interactions with third parties in the home. It has the same opportunity to learn the names of other cats in society.
How do cats know people’s names?
In another experiment, researchers conducted a similar test but used humans as a stimulus rather than a typical cat. The cats were shown a picture of a person with whom they lived, in a house with many people, while the person’s name was pronounced or said another name in case of ‘discrepancy’.
Again, the results showed that cats pay attention to the computer screen a little longer when there is a discrepancy between the picture and the name, but this effect tends to be greater in families where more people live and in families where the cat lives longer. with family.
The researchers explain that cats that live with more people are more likely to hear the names used than cats that live with fewer people, and that living with a family for a longer period enhances this experience. In other words, the frequency and frequency of exposure to a stimulus may increase the likelihood that a name will be associated with a face in domestic cats.
Challenges of studying cats
According to the report published on the Science Alert website, while the researchers claim that their study provides the first evidence that domestic cats relate human sayings to their social environment, this study is still somewhat small and includes only dozens of cats, so the results should be repeated in future research. The team also acknowledges that “we still do not know much about the specific mechanisms behind social learning in cats.”
And while the animals in the study seem to link the names and faces of celebrities and other cats, we still do not understand how cats develop this connection within their habitats. Part of this may be simply due to the difficulty of studying cats, which the study authors point out, they write, “a cat completed only the first experiment before leaving the room and climbing out of possibilities.”