Cats remember each other’s names, Japanese study says

(ORDO NEWS) — They may act detached and generally act as if they live on a higher level of existence than we ordinary people. But cats are more human than we sometimes think.

In recent years, scientists have proven that cats are indeed deeply attached to humans. These complex creatures are able and willing to communicate with us, they even track our movements when we are not around.

Even more amazing is that cats can recognize their own names (an ability we mostly associate with dogs), and now a new study shows that this feline feat goes much further than we thought.

In a new study, scientists have found that in addition to knowing their own names, cats also recognize the names of other cats they are familiar with and may also know the names of people who live with them in the same house.

It may seem a bit odd to think that your cat might know your name, but dogs can be trained to remember the names of hundreds of different things, so maybe that’s not all that surprising.

Perhaps the strangest thing is the realization that these seemingly distant beings have been secretly eavesdropping on our conversations all this time.

What we found is amazing,” animal researcher Saho Takagi, now at Azabu University in Japan, told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

“I want people to know the truth. Cats don’t seem to listen to people talking, but they do.”

In the experiments, Takagi and his colleagues studied cats living in multi-cat dwellings – either domestic cats living with other cats in a multi-cat house, or cats living in “cat cafes” in Japan, where visitors can interact with the numerous cats living in an establishment. .

In the tests, the researchers showed a cat an image of a familiar cat from the same family/cafe (so-called “model cat”) by displaying a picture of it on a computer screen.

During the display of the image, the recording of the owner’s voice said aloud the model cat’s name (the “congruent” condition) or said another name (the “incongruent” condition).

The team found that household cats stared at the computer screen for longer periods of time in incongruity, possibly because they were puzzled or intrigued by the mismatch between the image and the model cat’s name.

However, the cat café cats did not show the same latency at the computer during the experiment, possibly because they lived in homes with more other cats (not just a few) and may have been less familiar with the chosen model cat (and her name).

“Only domestic cats expected to see a particular cat’s face when they heard the name of the cat, suggesting that they matched the name of the stimulus cat with the particular individual,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

“Hearing the cat’s name, subjects expected the corresponding face.”

The team thinks that cats probably learn similar name-face relationships from watching third-party interactions at home, and it’s possible that cats living in cat cafes are surrounded by potentially dozens of cats, not to mention a stream of strangers entering cafes. – do not have such opportunities for social learning of the names of other cats.

In another experiment, the researchers ran a similar test, but used a human as a stimulus instead of a model cat. The cats were shown a picture of the person with whom they live (in a multi-bed house), and at the same time they said the name of this person or another name in an incongruent condition.

This time, the cats continued to look at the computer screen longer when there was a discrepancy between the image and the name, but this effect tended to be stronger in families with more people and in families where the cat lived in the family longer.

“Our interpretation is that cats living with more people have more opportunities to hear names being used than cats living with fewer people, and that living with a family for a longer time increases this experience.” the researchers explain.

In other words, the frequency and number of stimulus exposures can make the name-face association more likely.”

It’s worth noting that while the researchers claim their study provides “the first evidence that domestic cats link human utterances and their social referents through everyday experience,” it’s still quite a small study (only a few dozen cats took part). therefore, the results warrant replication in future studies.

In this regard, the team acknowledges that we still know little about the specific mechanisms that underlie cat social learning.

Although the animals in the study associated names and faces (both familiar people and other cats), we still do not fully understand how they develop these associations in their environment.

This is partly due to the difficulty of studying cats, which the authors duly note.

“One cat completed only the first test, after which it ran out of the room and climbed into an inaccessible place,” they write.

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