Have you ever wondered just how many language cues your pets really understand? Well, a team of researchers sought to examine this phenomenon in cats– and the results are astounding.
The new study, published in Scientific Reports, was conducted by scientists at Kyoto University in Japan. The researchers hoped to determine if cats could actually remember each other’s names.
Forty-eight felines, including pet cats that reside in residential homes, as well as cats that live in “cat cafés,” were used to test the theory.
First, researchers presented the cats with photos to analyze their behavioral reactions. Afterward, the team played audio recordings of the cats’ owners, or researchers, calling out names.
The names either correlated to the familiar cat pictured in the photo. Or it was a random name.
Shockingly, the team found that the cats actually spent more time studying the images after an audio recording incorrectly correlated a name.
The researchers believe that this prolonged staring resulted from confusion since the felines were expecting the pictured cat’s correct name to be spoken.
Interestingly, the cats who reside in cat cafés did not react the same way. The researchers concluded that the starkly different environments between homes versus cafés caused the differing response.
“Whereas house cats probably learn by observing the reaction of the specific cat whose name was called, café cats are more likely to hear different names called by different guests. This makes such learning more difficult,” the researchers explained.