Your cat knows the difference between speech directed to them and to a stranger

Cats are smart, but they don't care most of the time.
Deniz Yildiran
A pretty kitten
A pretty kitten

Iva Vagnerova/iStock 

Your cat knows when you speak to them; but they might not always care as they’re lazy, and most of the time, very cool.

A small-scale study observing 16 cats has revealed that cats actually know when they hear their owner’s voice that the owner’s tone is directed to them. They change their behaviors to show that they understand, according to a press release.

The study is published in the journal Animal Cognition.

Charlotte de Mouzon and colleagues from Université Paris Nanterre (Nanterre, France) made the cats that participated in the study listen to pre-recorded voices from both their owner and that of a stranger articulating phrases in cat-directed and human adult-directed tones.

Strangers don't mean anything to cats

Researchers observed cats in three conditions. In the first condition, the voice of the speaker changed from a stranger's voice to the cat's owner. The second condition included a tone change for the cat's owner, while the third included a tone change for a stranger's voice.

10 out of 16 cats slowed down in behavior when they heard audio clips of a stranger's voice calling them by their name in the first condition. The audio clips then changed to the owner's voice, and the cats' behavior intensity increased again. Cats turned their ears to the speakers, their pupils dilated and moved more around the room. The first condition shows that cats can distinguish between their owner's voice and that of a stranger.

10 cats, in the second condition, decreased their behavior when they heard their owner's voice directed at an adult, and increased their behavior when they heard that their owner's voice was directed at them. The third condition recorded no behavior change when a stranger's voice was directed at someone and the cats.

According to the authors, cats know when their owners are talking to them, and to someone else, but they don't care when a stranger talks to them or to someone else.

This is to show that, although the study is a small-scale one, one-to-one relationships between cats and their owners are important to form a strong bond.

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