Distant, suspicious, and above all solitary is how cats are often described, unlike dogs, which are considered a human’s best friend. A new study carried out in Japan, however, comes to undermine this perception.
Cats living in houses are actually able to recognise their first names and those of other felines, the study shows. They are even able to recognise the first names of people living in the same household.
In order to reach these conclusions, the researchers showed a cat several images: that of a random cat, and that of a cat that was living with or familiar to them. These images were displayed on a screen while the correct or incorrect first name of the chat shown was spoken aloud.
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As a result, the cat looked at the screen longer when the photo and the pronounced name did not match, certainly intrigued and surprised by the error. As the scientists write, "upon hearing a cat's first name, the subject expected to see his photo."
On the other hand, cats living in "Cat cafés" – where you can have a drink surrounded by cats – in the company of a higher number of felines, did not show any particular reaction. Since the structures are larger, and the cats more numerous, there is actually less chance that the same names will be pronounced, and therefore that they will be retained.
For scientists, there is no doubt: cats listen to our conversations, even if they do not seem to pay attention to them. However, they admit that few studies have been done on these animals, and that their way of functioning remains a mystery.