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  • Vickie Foster

Do Cats Recognize Their Name?

Does your cat know their name or do they really choose to ignore you when called? It’s easy to tell whether a dog recognizes their name because they wag their tail and come running to you. But cats are more complex and have a better poker face. Thankfully, a group of scientists in Japan conducted an experiment to find out whether or not cats recognize their names.


How did they conduct their experiment?

The researchers performed a series of experiments in which a person would say four different words and then say the cat's name. According to the study, four nouns were spoken to the cats which were around the same length as the cat's name. The scientists paid close attention to see if the cat acted differently when it heard its name. If they did, the scientists would know that the cat could distinguish its own name from the other words.


Multiple experiments with different factors were also tested but all were done in the cat’s home. Other factors included the owner being out of view, playing a recording of the owner saying the four words followed by the cat's name, and unfamiliar voices saying the words and the name. Once in a while, they also incorporated saying the names of other cats that lived in the same house.


So did the cats recognize their name?

The answer is yes! The study showed that cats do recognize their names. "We conclude that cats can discriminate the content of human utterances based on phonemic differences," the researchers wrote. "This is the first experimental evidence showing cats' ability to understand human verbal utterances."


And there you have it, definitive proof that cats recognize your name. If your cat is not responding when called, they may simply not be in a social mood. But if you need help getting your cat accustomed to responding to their name, we’ve got you covered! Read our tips below to help you.


How to get your cat accustomed to responding to their name


Getting your cat to always come to you is not guaranteed (as we said before, cats are more complex than dogs). Our tips may only increase the chances of them coming when being called. Either way, patience will be needed.


  1. Be consistent Always use the same name. Call in a higher-pitched voice, cats prefer this tone. Make sure everyone calling your cat uses the same word and tone. Additionally, choose a time when your cat is calm and receptive to being petted. Say the name several times while your cat is being petted. Do this several times throughout the day to start the association process.

  2. Pay attention Try to look out for your cat's nonverbal clues. These may include perked ears, a tail swish, or a turning of the head. These signals will tell you if your cat is responding. Pay attention to whenever he or she turns to you when you say their name. If they respond to you calling them, you may reward them with a pet or treat. Your kitty will soon associate their name with something positive.

  3. Enlist others to help Try having all members of your household and even visiting friends take turns calling your cat. The more your cat hears its name the more it will respond.


We hope these tips help you and your feline friend. Your cat may soon begin to respond to their name much like the cats in the Japanese study. Try not to be offended when they don't respond, that may be your cat just being a cat!

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All proceeds from Thousand Hills Pet Resort support New Life K9s. New Life K9s provides service dogs to veterans and first responders with PTSD at no cost to them.

References:

www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-40616-4

www.hillspet.com/cat-care/behavior-appearance/do-cats-know-their-names

www.petbucket.com/blog/63290/heres-how-to-get-your-cat-to-come-when-called.html