FunNature & AnimalCats seem to know the names of other cats...

Cats seem to know the names of other cats and people

If you have a cat, it is more than possible that you have once thought that it belongs to another world, that it is in a sphere, superior to ours, from which, proudly, it looks down, towards the simple and vulgar humans. Well, a study carried out by Japanese scientists indicates that domestic cats are more present in our lives than we think.

In recent years, scientists have shown that cats have a deep bond with humans . These complex creatures can and want to communicate with us, and even track our movements when we’re not around.

What has been discovered in this study is that, in addition to knowing their own names (something we usually associate with dogs), cats also seem to recognize the names of other conspecifics with whom they are familiar, as well as the names of the people living in the same household. It seems that they are not as distant and “detached” as we might think at first.

The scientists studied cats that lived in multi-cat households, whether they were domestic cats that lived with other felines in a multi-cat household, or cats that lived in “cat cafes” in Japan, where visitors can interact with the many cats that live in the establishment.

In the tests, researchers showed a cat a photograph of another known cat from the same household/cafe (called a “model cat”) on a computer screen. While the image was displayed, a recording of the owner’s voice calling out the model cat’s name (referred to as the “congruent condition”), or saying a different name (“incongruent condition”).

The team found that cats from domestic households spent more time looking at the computer screen during the incongruent condition, perhaps because they were puzzled or intrigued by the mismatch between the image and the model cat’s name .

However, the cats in the cat cafe did not display the same behavior at the computer. This may have been because they lived with many other cats (not just a few) and were perhaps less familiar with their chosen model cat (and its name).

“Only domestic cats anticipated a specific cat’s face upon hearing the cat’s name, suggesting that they related the stimulus cat’s name and the specific individual,” the researchers write in their paper. “Upon hearing a cat’s name, subjects expected the corresponding face.”

The team believes that cats probably learn the name-face relationship by observing interactions with third parties at home , and it’s possible that cats living in cat cafes (surrounded by dozens of cats and with lots of strange humans walking into the establishment), do not have the same opportunities to socially learn the names of other cats.

In another experiment, the researchers carried out a similar test, but using humans as the stimulus instead of the model cat. Cats were shown a picture of a person they lived with (in a multi-person household), and at the same time the person’s name was spoken, or another name was said in the incongruous condition.

This time, the cats seemed to attend to the computer screen for a little longer when there was a mismatch between the image and the name, but this effect tended to be greater in households in which more people lived, and in households in which more people lived. that the cat had lived with the family longer.

“Our interpretation is that cats living with more people have more opportunities to hear names used than those living with fewer people, and that living with a family for longer increases this experience,” the researchers explain. “In other words, the frequency and number of exposures to the stimuli may make the name-face association more likely.”

It should be noted that while the researchers say their study presents “the first evidence that domestic cats link human expressions and their social referents through everyday experiences,” it is a fairly small study overall. which only a few dozen cats participated. In this sense, the team acknowledges that not much is yet known about the specific mechanisms of social learning in these animals. This is due, in part, to the difficulties of studying cats, the authors note. “One of the cats only completed the first trial before escaping the room and out of reach,” they write.


Referencia: Takagi, S., Saito, A., Arahori, M. et al. 2022. Cats learn the names of their friend cats in their daily lives. Scientific Reports. DOI:

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