Cats May Ignore Their Humans, But They Actually Know Their Names

Let's face it. Cats do some pretty awesome things. But, do they know their names?

Cats clearly took over social media a long time ago! There are so many things I love about cats. They love to play, and kittens are just too adorable for wordsThey "talk" to you when they're hungry (just don't let them get hangry.) But, what about when we talk to them? Do they know their names? Often, cat owners feel like their housecats just see the human voice as background noise. But the latest science news gives us some insight into whether or not our feline best friends really recognize their monikers the way dogs do.

Are Cats Capable of Name Recognition?

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Honestly, cats are often misunderstood in the pet world. It's time we learned more about our feline friends and if they at the very least understand their owner's voice.

A study in Scientific Reports tells us that cats, also known as Felis catus, are able to discriminate their own names from other words. Atsuko Saito led the study at the University of Tokyo in Japan. In the study, researchers wanted to measure cat's ability to recognize their actual names.

"We conclude that cats can discriminate the content of human utterances based on phonemic differences."

There were a series of experiments performed. Of the 78 cats they "spoke" to, some were in a cat cafe where they lived, and the other cats were in households. During these experiments, the pet owners and researchers said the animals' names, as well as nouns with a similar length and rhythm, and the names of other cats.

Name Differentiation

What's really interesting about the study is that the cats in the cafe could differentiate between their own names and those of their roommates but chose to come anyway. The conclusion is that so many humans are giving them rewards, and they're hearing the names of all the other animals all day, so this proved difficult for them.

The cats also responded better to their owner's voice. In a secondary study at Sophia University, felines will respond with meowing or ear twitches to their owner but are more hesitant to respond to a stranger's voice.

Yet it seems to make perfect sense that cat owners already knew their cats could understand their own names, but it's nice to have some proof backing this theory up!

If you think your cat is ignoring you when you're asking them to come into the kitchen for dinner, they are.

Sound Recognition

Cats absolutely can differentiate the sound of their name from other sounds, even similar-sounding words! So get the cat food out and do your own experiment at home! Don't annoy your cat by saying your cat's name a hundred times but call her in the kitchen and see if it takes one or two attempts to get her attention! You should certainly see a head movement. This new research is very telling as we know cats are independent to begin with, but now we know they may ignore us when they don't want to be bothered. However, if you use many different nicknames for your cat, they may have a difficult time learning which one to respond to.

Many thanks to these wonderful Japanese researchers, and we'd like more of these studies, please! The communication skills and behavior of domestic cats can often be a mystery! Now, off to give mine some likely unwanted cuddles.

Cool staff note: Cats and humans have lived together for around 9,500 years! It's crazy we're just starting to learn more about their communication skills and body language!

Do you think your cat understands what you're saying or at least knows their name when called? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page. 

READ MORE: Why Do Cats Sleep so Much? The Science Behind the Snooze