For the first time, researchers have indicated that cats may join the list of animals that recognize human vocalizations, The Guardian reports. Dogs, dolphins, and parrots have shown the ability, but felines have been historically excluded. Now, research conducted by Dr Atsuko Saito, from Sophia University in Japan, claims to have verified cats can pick out their names in a string of words.
The experiment used to arrive at this conclusion consisted of playing a voice saying four words followed by the name of the cat and watching for the animal’s responses and movements throughout. Three scenarios were used, one with the owner’s voice, one with a stranger’s voice, and one played to cats used to living with other cats. Each of the results demonstrated a significant uptick in movement when the name was mentioned.
Additional research highlighted the lack of effort shown by cats to react to their names, even if they did understand. Furthermore, Dr John Bradshaw, at the University of Bristol, indicates doubt as to whether the study conclusively proves cats understand human language, but rather attributes the reactions to a recognition of the significance of different sounds, similar to a rattle of a food-box.