Do Cats Know Their Names? Cat Owner Questions Answered
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Do Cats Know Their Names? Cat Owner Questions Answered

Read on to learn more about do cats know their names and tips for your feline friend.

When you’re trying to communicate with your cat, you may notice they don’t always respond to their name. Also, cats are picky and may like to do things on their own terms. Naturally, this may lead you to ask, “Do cats know their names?” Fortunately, we sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold to learn more about if cats know their names and how training may help your furry friend.

Do cats know their names?

Find out do cats really know their names or do they respond to sound?

Whether you have a kitten or an adult cat, your furry friend may have a specific way they like to communicate. From everything to body language and vocalizations, cats may by peculiar or quirky in their daily behaviors. Nold weighs in on her own personal account with her cats and their names.

“I think it may be difficult to determine if a cat ‘knows’ their name. In my own personal experience, my cats seem to respond more to the tone of my voice than their names when they’re called. For example, if I call ‘here kitty vs. here George” in a high-pitched friendly voice, he would likely come either way. Although, he’s a more dog-like personality. If you have a more typical cat, they may only respond to a can of cat food being opened or the sound of food dropping in their bowls, which is more like my other cat Juniper.”

It may really depend on what type of cat you have, their personality, and their personal preference. While some cats may call when they’re called, others may come running for mealtime, playtime, or some extra cuddles.

For more information on cat communication, read Understanding Cat Body Language to Help Your Furry Friend.

Training and your cat’s name

Training is important during any part of your pet’s development. Also, you can train a pet at any age and this does include kittens and cats. So, can you train a cat to come to their name? Nold points out the differences between training your pets.

“For example, if I were to have both cats in the room and called one, George would likely come regardless and Juniper probably wouldn’t regardless.  I suppose this would also likely be the case if you had two dogs in one room, although they are more likely to be trained to commands like, ‘stay,’ ‘wait,’ or ‘come.’ In other words, you could tell one to stay and call the other one by name to come. Further, cats are trainable and if someone was properly motivated they could likely also train their cat depending on personality to respond to a voice command.”

Also, training your cat or kitten may be beneficial for safety reasons. If you need your pet to come to you during an emergency, it may be helpful if they do respond to their own name. For an additional resource on cat training, read How to get a cat into a carrier guide.

The science behind a cat name and what it really means

Ultimately, your cat may choose not to respond to their name, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a cat not to respond to their name.

While they may not respond immediately, they may be more prone to acknowledge their owner versus a stranger.

According to Vocal Recognition of Owners by domestic cats, § “These habituated cats showed a significant rebound in response to the subsequent presentation of their owners’ voices. This result indicates that cats are able to use vocal cues alone to distinguish between humans.”

Further, the human-pet bond is an important part of your overall relationship with your best friend.

Do cats know their name? It may depend on your furry friend

No matter how you choose to communicate with your cat, it may be a chance to bond with your best friend. Whether you choose to signal your kitten by name, with noise or using physicality, your cat may let you know what they prefer with a simple head nod or tail-flick. After all, your cat’s purr is a great way to be greeted during your day!

Does your cat know their name? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about cat behavior, read Why Do Cats Lick You? Cat Owners Answered

§ 1 Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Science, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 3-8-1 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan

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