Scientists have tested whether cats understand human speech

(ORDO NEWS) — It turned out that our fluffy pets at least perfectly distinguish whether the owner addresses them or another person – and accordingly change their behavior. But they usually do not respond to the voice of a stranger.

People unconsciously change the tone of their voice when addressing other adults or talking to babies and pets. However, until now, no one knew whether cats distinguish between speech addressed to them and speech addressed to another person.

To find out, a group of researchers from the University of Paris X-Nanterre (France) conducted a study on 16 cats who were asked to listen to audio recordings of the voices of their owners and strangers referring to other people or to a cat.

The researchers noted how the animal reacts to the recording of the voice: whether the ears move, whether the tail twitches, whether the pupils dilate – or the cat remains completely unperturbed.

As it turned out, 10 out of 16 cats did not react in any way to their own nickname if it was uttered by the voice of a stranger.

But at the sound of the owner’s voice, the intensity of their behavior increased sharply: their ears turned towards the speakers, the pupils dilated, the pets began to move restlessly around the room.

In the second experiment, 10 cats, eight of which had already demonstrated the ability to distinguish between the voice of the owner and the stranger, were asked to listen to recordings of the voices of the owner and the stranger addressing either the cat or another person.

It turned out that the animals reacted to the recording only in one single case – if the voice of the owner was recorded, addressing them specifically.

Neither in the case of a conversation between the owner and another person, nor when a stranger addressed them, did the cats react to the sounds of a human voice.

Scientists have tested whether cats understand human speech 2
Cats perfectly hear everything that people talk about in the house, but only react to phrases addressed to them

The small sample size of the animals makes it impossible to draw conclusions about the behavior of cats in general, and it is possible that more socialized cats, such as those living in cat cafes or shelters, will respond to the voice of a stranger in the same way as to the voice of a familiar person.

However, the findings undeniably prove that indoor cats form a strong bond with their owners and are able not only to distinguish their voices from the voices of strangers, but also to understand when a person is talking to them and when to other people.

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