Cats can distinguish between speech directed at them and humans

Cat got your tongue: Felines understand when their owners are talking directly to them, new study reveals

  • Cats reacted to owner and stranger saying phrases directed at cats or humans
  • Most cats showed a decrease in response when they heard clips of a stranger
  • When hearing their owner’s voice their behaviour significantly increased again
  • The authors suggest the sudden rebound in behaviour indicates that cats can discriminate their owner’s voice from that of a stranger

Cat owners will try all sorts of tricks in an attempt to communicate with their pet.

But if putting on a high-pitched voice, meowing at them or getting down on all fours doesn’t work, it might well be that they’re simply ignoring you.

That’s because cats really do recognise their owner’s voice if they are being spoken to directly, according to a new study.

Cat owners will try all sorts of tricks in an attempt to communicate with their pet. But if putting on a high-pitched voice, meowing at them or getting down on all fours doesn’t work, it might well be that they’re simply ignoring you

Researchers from Université Paris Nanterre analysed how 16 cats reacted to pre-recorded voices from both their owner and that of a stranger when saying phrases directed at cats or humans

Are CATS man’s best friend? 

The old adage states that dogs are man’s best friend, but research disputes that long-held title as experts claim cats get just as attached to us as canines do. 

The study looked for signs of attachment in both cats and kittens when reunited with their owner in a strange place.

It is the first time scientists have shown that cats display the same sort of behaviour witnessed in dogs and human babies. 

Researchers from Université Paris Nanterre analysed how 16 cats reacted to pre-recorded voices from both their owner and that of a stranger when saying phrases directed at cats or humans.

They rated the behaviour of the cats reacting to the audio, specifically checking for things such as ear twitching, pupil dilation and tail moving.

Results revealed 10 out of the 16 cats showed a decrease in response when they heard audio clips of a stranger’s voice calling them by their name.

However, when hearing their owner’s voice their behaviour intensity significantly increased again.

The cats displayed behaviours such as turning their ears to the speakers, increased movement around the room and pupil dilation when hearing their owner’s voice.

The authors suggest the sudden rebound in behaviour indicates that cats can discriminate their owner’s voice from that of a stranger.

Similar results were seen during a separate phase of the study, which showed cats react more to their owners speaking to them in a tone directed at cats, compared to a tone directed at humans.

Writing in the journal Animal Cognition, the authors said their findings add to evidence that cats may form strong bonds with their owner.

The cats displayed behaviours such as turning their ears to the speakers, increased movement around the room and pupil dilation when hearing their owner’s voice

They said: ‘Cats – who were not so long ago considered as independent and ungrateful creatures – are in fact very well capable of creating and fostering attachment bonds with humans.’

Unfortunately for owners of unresponsive cats, it looks like they might just be giving you the cold shoulder.

The study comes shortly after experts claimed that cats get just as attached to us as dogs do. 

The study, from Oregon State University, looked for signs of attachment in both cats and kittens when reunited with their owner in a strange place.

It is the first time scientists have shown that cats display the same sort of behaviour witnessed in dogs and human babies.

Most cats (65.8 per cent) and kittens (64.3 per cent) showed a ‘secure attachment’ with humans and were just as interested in their owners as their surroundings.

Human babies, for example, are ‘securely attached’ to their caregivers in 65 per cent of occasions.  

Playing with your cat and feeding them meat-rich foods can deter them from hunting wildlife, scientists say

Domestic cats with outdoor access can represent a major threat to local wildlife, including birds, small mammals, amphibians and fish.

Researchers from Exeter, however, have demonstrated that there are some simple strategies that can help temper our kitties’ murderous impulses.

These include ensuring that cats get all the micronutrients they need from their human-provided diet, so that they are not driven to seek extra food.

It is also important to ensure cats lead enriched lives and have opportunities to explore their natural hunting impulses through play with toys.

Read more here 

Fed up with kitty bringing home ‘little presents’? Playing with your cat (like with a feather wand, pictured) and feeding them meat-rich foods can deter them from hunting wildlife

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