The most popular pet animals in the world are the dogs (Canis familiaris) and cats. In fact, an estimate between 200 and 600 million cats live with us, homo sapiens sapiens (habilis in some cases…looking at you terrible customer service person). In terms of cohabitation time with humans, dogs did in fact live alongside us the longest, for cats have been our companions for almost 10 000 years. See, cats and people go waaaaay back. In contrast to dogs, the ability of pet cats to interact and communicate with Men has not been studied extensively. Not until recently…In fact, cats too have developed behaviours related to communication with humans, just like dogs.
Researchers have showed that cats are capable to find hidden food using human pointing gesture as a cue, similarly to dogs. The latter can also determine the attentional state of their owner by simply gazing at the body, head and especially the eyes or even recognize their owners distinctively from unfamiliar persons. Cats have a shorter history of domestication, comparatively to dogs, which could explain the major differences in interaction, communication and closeness with humans…
In a recent experiment, 20 domesticated cats (12 males and 8 femelles) have been presented serially to three strangers voices and then to their owner’s voice. The various responses to stimuli (the strangers voices) were recorded. Half of them moved their head, a third responded by moving the ears and a fifth even wiggled their tails. The reactions were the same for both the strangers and the owner’s voices. They only differ in magnitude.
The researchers who conducted the exxperiment have found that the response to the strangers voices decreased from stranger 1 to stranger 3 but then increased when presented with the owner’s voice. This suggest that the pet cat can indeed, discriminate their owner’s voices from others.
What’s interesting is that domestic cats can, in fact, recognize their own names from other words and not only do they do, but they choose to ignore them.
So tell me, do you share a personal story or relationship with your favourite furrball ?