To those who have made the effort to learn the names of some of the many cats in KAIST, know that they do recognize that you’re talking to them. New research from Sophia University in Japan has concluded that cats can discern their names from random nouns or the names of other cats.
The lead researcher, Atsuko Saito, described their study, which involved nearly 80 cats, as “the first experimental evidence showing cats’ ability to understand human verbal utterances”.
A selection of random word recordings were played to the feline test subject with pauses of about 15 seconds between each. Interspersed in this list was the cat’s own name as well as the names of co-habiting cats.
While listening to neutral words, the majority of the cats didn’t pay attention, in the same way people tune out noises not important. Upon hearing their names, a large proportion showed some recognition through body language. However, only 10% actually got up to respond — though they might understand, it seems cats choose to ignore us.