TOKYO (CBS DC) – Japanese researchers have confirmed what many cat owners already know, cats ignore their owners voices.
The University of Tokyo study tested 20 housecats in their own homes, reports The Independent of London.
Once the owners were out of sight, the scientists played audio recordings of people calling the cats’ names: 3 strangers, the owner, then another stranger.
Upon hearing the recordings, the cats displayed what is called ‘orienting behavior;’ they moved their heads and ears to figure out where the sound was coming from.
By observing the cats’ behaviors, things like ear twitching, pupil dilation and how they moved their paws, the researchers determined that the animals were easily able to identify when the voice belonged to its owner.
But none of the cats tested made any attempt to move towards any of the people who were calling them.
“These results indicate that cats do not actively respond with communicative behavior to owners who are calling them from out of sight, even though they can distinguish their owners’ voices,” say the researchers. “This cat–owner relationship is in contrast to that with dogs.”
The study authors suggest that this behavior may have to do with the different ways cats and dogs became domesticated.
Unlike dogs, who were actively trained by prehistoric humans to aid in hunting for prey, cats seem to have chosen to live alongside human communities in order to feed on the rodents and birds who were living off food scraps and other garbage.
“Historically speaking, cats, unlike dogs, have not been domesticated to obey humans’ orders. Rather, they seem to take the initiative in human–cat interaction.”
In other words, cats more or less domesticated themselves.
The study, published in Animal Cognition journal, concludes by observing that “the behavioral aspect of cats that cause their owners to become attached to them are still undetermined.”