When minka is called, minka comes too. At least when there is a treat or a cuddle session with the master or mistress to dust off and she just feels like it.
Even if house tigers have a mind of their own: it is a foregone conclusion for their owners that cats recognize and react to their names. So far, however, scientific proofs were missing. Japanese researchers now present their findings.
Domestic cats (felis silvestris catus) can actually hear their name from other words. This is what atsuko saito from sophia university in tokyo and his team write in the scientific reports magazine. It is the first experimental evidence that cats can understand verbal commands from humans.
According to japanese researchers, the ability of cats to communicate with humans has only recently begun to be explored. It was found out, for example, that cats understand when their owner shows them the way to their food with his finger. In addition, cats change – at least in part – their behavior, depending on whether their master looks grim or friendly.
The team around saito has now examined a total of 78 cats. Among other things, the researchers looked at how the animals responded when they first heard four common japanese words in succession from a tape recorder. At the same time the attention of the cats decreased more and more. Then their own name was played to them. The researchers made sure that the words had a sound similar to the cat’s name and that they were stressed in the same way.
The result: the majority of the cats reacted to their name. They moved their ears or head more. The effect was also observed, when not the cat owner himself spoke to his animal, but a stranger. In another experiment, the researchers were able to show that cats from households with more than one pet can presumably distinguish their names from those of the others.
The recognized cat expert dennis turner considers the study "seriously conducted", but he is not really surprised. "Cats are very intelligent and capable of learning – if they are willing to participate," says turner, who was not involved in the study. However, most of the owners lost patience before their pet learned anything.
There are far more than ten million cats in germany. According to the pet industry association, one or more velvet paws lived in more than one in five households in 2017. The results from japan are certainly transferable to german cats, says turner. "I do not expect any differences in vocal behavior or in the ability to recognize names."
The cats’ ability to learn results from the daily interaction between humans and animals, write the japanese researchers. They suggest that the potential could be exploited: "perhaps we could get cats to learn to associate dangerous objects or places with certain vocalizations."