We all know that dogs almost always come when called, but cats seem to come only when it’s feeding time. So do they understand when we call them, or do they simply ignore us?
Well, their brains are far more complex than dog brains, so it’s probably the latter. Plus, according to a study published in 2019, a team of Japanese scientists found that cats seem to recognize their names in between different words.
But a new study has gone even further. It was done on 48 different cats, 29 of whom live in Japanese cat cafés, while the rest live in multiple cat households. The findings show that cats can actually learn the names of other cats living in the household with them.
The researchers played audio recordings in which the owner called another cat a few times. Then, after four calls, the cat participating in the research was shown a picture of another cat. In some cases, the face shown was the one of the cat called, while in others, it was not.
The house cats were found to stare at the picture longer (around one to two seconds more) when the cat in the picture didn’t correspond with the name called. However, this was not true for the café cats.
The researchers think that this suggests cats tried to understand why the names and faces didn’t match. In other words, it proves that cats can link the face to the name with no training — at least when it comes to other cohabiting cats.
The café cats in this trial were not as expressive, as they paid almost no attention to the monitor. The researchers think this is because they don’t hear other cats’ names being called as often.
Like many other studies on animals and their behavior, this study can’t be 100% sure of its findings, mainly since it tested only 48 cats out of 400 million living in the world and excluded feral cats.
Some cats were also not cooperative, and one of them even escaped the room after finishing only the first activities. Still, it provides insight into how much cats can actually learn — they just don’t care about showing it to us.