It’s not simple to give your new kitten or cat a name. Therefore, it makes sense for pet owners to wonder if cats are aware of their names. Cats can recognize and respond to the names we gave them with affection, but they don’t always want to.
Do Cats Recognize Their Own Name?
Yes! According to Teresa Manucy, DVM, a veterinarian at VCA Fleming Island Animal Hospital, Cats are able to distinguish between their name and the names of other household pets. She claims that the cat’s association of their name with attention, food, or play or positive reinforcement are the most likely causes of this recognition.
Why Is My Cat Ignoring Me?
Cats, as opposed to dogs, are independent creatures. This may help to explain why, despite hearing their name mentioned, they choose to ignore us. By calling a cat without any other indications, you can see if it recognizes its name, according to Radosta. They know your name if they respond by turning their head or moving their body toward you.
Manucy claims that some cats are simply more independent, preoccupied, or stand-offish than others, which can contribute to their disinterest on occasion.
What Do Cats Respond To?
Lisa Radosta, DACVB, a veterinary behaviorist at Florida Veterinary Behavior Service, reiterates what cat lovers already know: Cats are highly intelligent. Paired with amazing ears that can swivel almost 180 degrees and move independent of each other, cats can hear and respond to more than just their names.
Cats Recognize Their Humans’ Voices
If your cat seems to respond to your voice quickly but not the voice of your roommate, you could be onto something. Manucy claims that cats are able to recognize and recall various sound patterns. This means that a cat might react to a favorite family member more favorably than to a stranger, she explains.
This, according to Radosta, was proven in a 2013 research of 20 cats that were asked to identify their pet parents purely by voice. The researchers found that the cats had a definite preference when exposed to four distinct voices, one of which was that of their pet parent. They slowly ignored the voices of strangers and turned their head and looked in the direction of that voice.
“This ability allows cats to distinguish who is family and who is not,” Radosta explains. “It’s another cue that cats use to understand how to live safely and happily in our environment.”
Cats Recognize Tone of Voice
When we call a cat, the way we say it can affect how much attention they give us. According to Radosta, our vocal tones can convey either positive or negative feelings, which goes for all animals, not only cats.
She gives the example that if a pet parent calls their cat in a high-pitched voice and rewards them with something they like, the cat will respond favorably. The cat may react negatively if the same high-pitched voice is connected to anything unpleasant, such a bath or being placed in a carrier.
Cats Recognize Other Words, Like ‘Dinner,’ ‘Treat,’ and ‘Bed’
What cats understand or don’t understand cannot be determined with certainty. However, we are aware that they are inquisitive beings who modify their behavior in response to context.
For instance, if you regularly say “dinner” and then give your cat a meal, they will come to link “dinner” with food. Because of this, Radosta advises against giving cats names like “vet,” “car,” or “carrier” or anything else that could cause stress.
How To Teach Your Cat Their Name
Manucy asserts that one method of teaching a cat or kitten its name is to correlate it with pleasant events, such as speaking the cat’s name before giving it a treat, toy, or your undivided attention.
Cats can be successfully trained using a clicker, especially in houses with several cats or kittens. The trick is to get your cat to realize that their name has meaning and that when they hear it, we’re trying to get their attention. Say your cat’s name, click, and reward them as soon as they glance at you to reinforce this. Together, you can assist your cats learn their names, which will help them remember them and possibly allow them to differentiate between them.