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Cats recognize their own names, according to new Japanese research

Source: University of Tokyo

Pet cats can recognize their own names if their names are used regularly by their owners, according to new results. Projects to understand simple social behaviors like name recognition in cats may give clues to how we humans became social. Both humans and cats have evolved through the process of self-domestication, where the population rewards certain traits that then become increasingly common in future generations.

  • This is the first project to study cats' ability to understand human voices.

Other research projects have discovered that apes, dolphins, parrots, and dogs can understand some words spoken by humans
  • To test if a cat recognized its name, researchers tested the name against other similar-sounding nouns.

  • Researchers played recordings of their own voices and the cat's owner's voice saying five words: the first four words were the similar-sounding nouns and the final, fifth word was the cat's name.

  • Researchers decided that cats responded to their name if they ignored recordings of other words, but moved their ears or heads when they heard their name.

  • Cats who showed habituated weak responses to other similar-sounding nouns or the names of other cohabiting cats were significantly more likely to show strong responses to their own names.

  • Researchers state that a cat that did not respond to its name may still be able to recognize its name.

Well-trained dogs can differentiate between 200 to 1,000 human words or labels


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