Study Finds That Cats Know When You're Calling Them, They Just Don't Care

That's what you get for naming him Mittens.

Domesticated dogs tend to respond strongly when you say their name, jumping at the chance that one "Fido!" could mean any host of good things (walks, belly rubs, licks, etc.). But with pet cats, it usually takes the opening of a can of food or the light shake of a bag of treats to get them to leap across the room to you. While there have been several studies on how much dogs understand what humans are actually saying, similar research on cats is still in its early stages. But a new study published in Scientific Reports has found evidence that, in fact, cats know their names.

For the study, psychologist Atsuko Saito and her colleagues at Sophia University in Tokyo asked cat owners to say four nouns of similar length, followed by their cat's name. If the cat had a pronounced response to its name versus the other words, that would indicate that the cat understood that it was being called.

The results showed that while cats seemed to gradually lose interest with every noun uttered by their owner, more than half of them moved their ears and heads when their name came up. The same was true when the experiment was conducted with a stranger rather than the cat's owner, as well as when the researchers used cat café felines versus house cats.

While this doesn't necessarily mean that cats identify with their names the way that humans do, it does imply that they realize that this particular word applies to them. So, the next time you say, "Come here, Mittens!" and he doesn't move a muscle, chances are he's just patently ignoring you. Which is, of course, part of the personality we've long assumed cats to have. Dogs live to serve, but cats? They can never be tamed.

And for more cat-related content that'll make your day, here are 30 Cat Puns That Are Absolutely Hissterical.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more