We knew that cats were able to recognize their names. New research now shows that our felines can also learn the names of their feline friends in their everyday lives. Details of the study are published in Scientific Reports.
Humans communicate with each other through language, which allows us to talk about things that transcend time and space. Many words actually have reference meanings, evoking a visual mental image when heard or read. For example, the word “apple” makes us imagine a red or green fruit even if there is no fruit. Do non-human animals also learn to associate human speech with certain everyday things? As part of a study, Japanese researchers were interested in cats.
Cats remember each other’s names
For this work, the team specifically investigated whether cats could learn to recognize familiar cat names and faces. For their experiments, the scientists studied subjects living in “multi-cat” dwellings and the cats found in Japan’s famous “cat cafes” where visitors could interact with the animals in the establishment.
In the test, the researchers presented an image of a familiar cat from the same house/cafe (called a “cat model”) on a computer screen. While the image was being shown, a recording of the owner’s voice said the typical cat’s name out loud (called the “matched case”) or a different name (“the mismatched case”).
The results showed that domestic cats Pay attention to the screen for a longer time in an inappropriate state, indicating the effect of violating expectations. Researchers believe this greater interest reflects a some confusion Regarding the contrast between the photo and the cat model name. Upon hearing a cat’s name, participants expected the corresponding face.
However, the cats in the cat cafe did not show the same delay during the experiment. Possibly surrounded by dozens of other animals, not to mention the influx of human strangers entering the café, these cats simply don’t have the same opportunities to learn the names of other cats socially.
Same thing with humans
In another experiment, the researchers performed a similar test, but using humans As a catalyst rather than a cat model. Again, the cats seem to occupy the computer screen for a little longer when there is a mismatch between the picture and the name (when one does not match the other). This effect also tends to be greater in households with households more people And in the houses where the cat was Living longer with family.
« Our interpretation is that cats who live with more people are more likely to hear names used than cats who live with fewer people and that living with a family for longer increases this experience.‘, explained the researchers. In other words, Frequency and number of exposures to stimuli may increase the likelihood of a name being associated with a face«.
Note that this study included only a small sample. So it is still too early to confirm these results. However, it would also be interesting to understand how cats develop this type of attachment in their living environment.