Cats Recognize Their Names, But Response Varies, Study Finds


Japanese researcher Atsuko Saito recently conducted a study to explore whether cats can recognize their own names. While the notion may seem obvious to many cat owners, Saito’s investigation sheds light on the nuances of feline behavior. This article examines the study’s findings, which indicate that cats do indeed discern their names, but their responses may not always align with our expectations.

Research Methodology:

Saito’s study involved observing 78 household cats and cats residing in cat cafés in Japan. Previous research by Saito had already revealed that cats are adept at understanding human gestures, recognizing their owner’s voice, and even soliciting food when called by name. These prior findings suggested that cats possess the capability to recognize their names.

Responses to Name Calling:

During the study, both owners and unfamiliar individuals were tasked with calling the cats’ names. The researchers recorded behavioral cues indicating recognition, such as ear and head movements, as well as tail swishing. Notably, the cats displayed interest not only when their owners called their names, but also when strangers did.

Comparing Cat and Dog Responses:

As expected, Saito’s study found that cats tend to be less enthusiastic in responding to their names compared to dogs. Saito proposed an intriguing explanation rooted in evolutionary history. Dogs have been selectively bred over centuries for obedience and responsiveness, whereas cats, in a sense, domesticated themselves as they trailed mice and rats into human settlements.

Continued Evolution of Feline Behavior:

One noteworthy observation from Saito’s study is the notion that cats are still evolving, particularly in their interactions with humans. As more cats live indoors and have increased contact with humans, their ability to comprehend and react to our cues may further develop. Saito emphasizes that social evolution remains an ongoing process for cats.


Atsuko Saito’s study offers valuable insights into the cognitive abilities of cats, affirming that they do recognize their names. However, their responses may be influenced by their evolutionary history and individual temperament. Understanding these intricacies can foster stronger bonds between feline companions and their human counterparts, contributing to the ongoing evolution of our cherished pets.

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