Does your cat come running when you call him? Does it seem like he actually recognizes his name? Well, you may be surprised that there is very little research done on this topic.
Recently though, people have been asking this question and studying the answers. If you are a cat lover, you probably don’t need research to tell you the answer. Evidence shows that cats may indeed know their names, but they are just fickle.
What Do Cats Recognize and Respond To?
According to Ken Lambrecht, DVM, a veterinarian who has lots of experience with cat lovers over the years, he believes that cats can be very selective – not surprising to cat lovers.
A study entitled Vocal Recognition of Owners by Domestic Cats (Felis catus) confirms the fact that cats do recognize human voices and respond primarily by ear and head movements. They also found that using harmonics and broad pitch was more effective in eliciting that response. The conclusion: cats recognize their owner’s voice and name and are able to use vocal cues alone to distinguish between humans.
A more recent study discussed how the pitch of our voice determined how cats respond. When we talk to our pets using high-pitched, short, simple content (like baby talk), cats are more attentive and tended to respond more often.
Teaching a Cat to Respond to Voice Commands
Knowing this information is helpful in deciding what you should name your cat. One of the strongest variables in how responsive cats are to their owner’s voice is whether they are hungry or not. Since food is a powerful motivator, for me too, it makes sense that cats are more responsive if they are hungry. Common sense says that food, coupled with the owner’s voice, should result in a response at least some of the time.
Using food as a reward for answering to his name will help to reinforce the elicited response. Also, beginning this training at a young age is very important.
By starting as a kitten, using a harmonic pitch and variation, and possibly a multi-syllable name in association with food rewards, you should get a better response from your beloved felines. As cat lovers you know, you simply need to accept graciously whatever they choose to do.