Cats Are More Social Than We Think, Study Shows

Animals

| LAST UPDATE 06/02/2022

By Stanley Wickens
study cats know names
chendongshan via Getty Images

We've gotten used to the idea that cats are a lot more independent than dogs and don't require too much attention. But while these animals seem detached and unconcerned as they roam around their owners' homes, it turns out they're paying a lot more attention than we think.

Most people who own a cat would probably tell you their furry friend is quite unengaged and inattentive. After all, cats have proven to be a lot more difficult than dogs when it comes to understanding commands and being trained to obey their owners. However, findings from a recent study on our feline friends' interactions with their surroundings suggest that cats actually are actually very observant and can remember the names of other cats as well as their owners. A study conducted in April tested the theory on a group of felines, 29 of which lived in "cat cafes" with many other cats, and 19 who lived in their owners' homes with two or more other cats.

cats behavior animal study
Westend61 via Getty Images
Advertisement

The methodology used in the study wasn't complex: the researchers placed a computer in front of each cat and displayed the face of another familiar cat on the screen. An audio clip was then played of the cat's owner either calling the name of the cat on the screen or the names of other cats that didn't match the face on the screen. When the incorrect name was called, the cat in front of the computer stared for a longer period of time at the screen, observing attentively - as though there was something wrong. 

"These results indicate that only household cats anticipated a specific cat face upon hearing the cat's name, suggesting that they matched the stimulus cat's name and the specific individual," noted the study. "Cats probably learn such name-face relationships by observing third-party interactions." Since this behavior hasn't been observed in wildcats, the experts concluded that these cats' ability to recognize each others' names was the evolutionary result of "a form of social learning." However, exactly how they learn each others' names remains to be investigated. It looks like perhaps we're the ones who should be paying more attention - not our cats. Be sure to stay tuned while we find out more about our feline friends' behavior...

Advertisement