Cats Do Recognize Their Names - They Just Don't Care

April 5, 2019

A new study published Thursday in Scientific Reports claims domestic cats do recognize their own names — it just couldn't care less.

cats recognize their name
Credit: @iizcat / Instagram

For the study, scientists first had cat owners repeatedly say four words that were similar to their cats' names.

Next the owners said the actual names, and the researchers looked at whether individual cats appeared able to distinguish their names from the similar sounding words.

The cats had more pronounced responses to their own names — moving their ears, heads or tails, or meowing.

Then the researchers had strangers speak the names to the cats to test their response. Though their responses were less prominent than when their owners called them, they still appeared to recognize their names.


"This new study clearly shows that many cats react to their own names when spoken by their owners," said biologist John Bradshaw.

Atsuko Saito, a behavioral scientist at the University of Tokyo, believes cats learn to recognize their names or "food" because of what is in it for them.

"I think cats associated their names with some rewards or punishments," she said.

"Cats are just as good as dogs at learning," Bradshaw added. "They're just not as keen to show their owners what they've learned."

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