Cats Know Their Names, Don't Care

Science proves what you already knew: Your cat is ignoring you.

By Laura Doering | Posted: January 3, 2014, 10 a.m. EST

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Good news! Your cat knows his name. Bad news. Your cat apparently could care less that you bothered to name to him at all. At least that was the conclusion Japanese researchers came to after testing 20 cat recruits. The cats were subjected to recordings of their owners calling to them in their usual tone. Then they played recordings of three sets of strangers using the same words. The kitties did demonstrate a more noticeable response to their people, but, here’s the dagger-in-the-heart of the cats’ owners … the cats didn’t bother to get up, let alone come when called.
Cats ignore you
Are you talking to me?

The explanation all lies in obeying. Dogs have been bred over the course of thousands of years to follow human commands. Essentially, you can command a dog to do just about anything, "Rollover” "Sit, stay” … "Wear this argyle sweater I knitted for you,” etc. Cats, not so much. Felines never needed to learn to obey us silly humans.

Hear the cat names of the year >>

I imagine it went a little something like this: A thousand or so years ago someone yelled, "Eek … a mouse!” Seizing the moment, pre-domesticated kitty sauntered in and took care of the mouse. Impressed, human wooed the cat, "Hey, you can totally hang here, cat.” Cat thought, "You’ve got some cushy pillow cushions, and I don’t mind helping myself to more of your mice. Just be clear, we are equal partners in this whole domestication thing. You want someone to fetch something? Go tell Fido over there. If I see another mouse, I might go get it if it so pleases me.”   

Find out more about cat behavior >>

Getting back to Japanese study ... we do need to give these cats credit where credit is due. They were submitted to recordings of their owners’ voices. Would you get up and walk over to a recorder just because the recording asked you to, especially if there was no yummy treat waiting for you when you go there? Neither would a cat!

A dog, of course, will be there in a heartbeat. A dog will run to answer the front door when he hears doorbell ring on TV, presumably as the cat rolls her eyes.
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Reader Comments

Jean    Paso Robles, CA

6/26/2014 1:59:42 PM

The only names my two cats answer to is "Kitty, Kitty," and they think that name means "There is food in your dish." Otherwise, they just roll their eyes and go back to sleep.

Elba    Newport New, VA

1/14/2014 5:45:29 AM

Love this article, very funny and very much a truth. yeah, my cat know his name-Gabriel (like the Angel) and when I call him in my high pitched child like tones, he just looks at me like _" You pathetic human, I have no need to go to you as you do not have what I need!-Now scat human go fetch my delicious crunchy and chewey delicatable!" -which I do, and then and only then when he hears the rattling sound of his treats does grace me with his presence...he has trained me well.

Elba    Newport New, VA

1/14/2014 5:44:12 AM

Love this article, very funny and very much a truth. yeah, my cat know his name-Gabriel (like the Angel) and when I call him in my high pitched child like tones, he just looks at me like _" You pathetic human, I have no need to go to you as you do not have what I need!-Now scat human go fetch my delicious crunchy and chewey delicatable!" -which I do, and then and only then when he hears the rattling sound of his treats does grace me with his presence...he has trained me well.

Terry    Abingdon, VA

1/13/2014 1:11:40 PM

So much for the Japanese research. My cats answered to people, not recordings. They know their names and they know their nicknames!

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