Cats are intelligent creatures – they are observant, vigilant, and always alert. But if that were true, why do they seem indifferent towards many things? Why do most of them ignore their names when they’re called?
A study released this month in the journal Science Report proves cats really do recognize their names when we say them! However, the same study reveals that most cats can’t be bothered to respond
Cats react to the sound of their name
In the study, owners repeat a list of words that sound similar to the cat’s name, then say the cat’s name. And while an ear might perk up at the sound of the first almost-right name, the reactions would fade away until the cat hears her actual name being said.
When the feline subjects hear their name, reactions varied from moving their ears, heads, and tails, to meowing back to the speaker. Sounds about right!
Cats know the name of other cats they live with
In another part of the experiment, researchers had owners of multiple cats try the test with all cats present and observed how the cat being called reacted as well as the other cats in the family.
The cats clearly distinguish their name from the names of the other cats they live with—but sometimes chose to come when another cat’s name was called, anyway.
Scientists speculate that this is due to the behavior being frequently rewarded with something nice like petting or treats. But whether this behavior is from jealousy for attention, or just positive reinforcement, remains to be seen.
Cats know their owner’s voice
Another study at Sophia University in Japan proved that cats respond more strongly to their human’s voice than to a stranger’s voice. Researchers looked at how a cat responds to the sound of their name being said by their person’s voice versus someone unfamiliar.
While the cats responded positively to their person’s voice, they tended to have a neutral or even negative response to the sound of a stranger saying their name.
How to get their attention
It is a good idea to use a clicker – a device that is used to train cats to anticipate something good. It is often used to teach cats simple tricks.
The clicker is clicked before giving rewards such as treats or belly rubs. Once they associate the click with positive reinforcement, they will begin to respond to it.
You may even find it easier to call them through using a clicker than by calling their names.
Another way to get their attention is to play with them. Use yarn or a flashlight since they are always enticed by swift, unpredictable movements.
Cats often appear indifferent. But if you pay close attention to their body language, you will know how much they enjoy your company and how much you mean to them.
They are not very demonstrative of their feelings, so it’s up to you to learn how to interpret their actions.