Cats can mentally identify you by ear

A new study from Japan has found that a stationary cat can track its owner’s location using audio cues – specifically the owner’s voice.

Saho Takagi, the study’s first author and a doctoral student at Kyoto University, said she’s always been interested in cats’ hearing abilities. She’s a cat everywhere, but she said her favorite part is their ears. Cats have sensitive ears that can move in different directions.

“I saw a cat with only one of its ears tilted back, and I heard the sound behind it, and I felt like the cats have to think of many things from the sound,” Takagi said in an email to CNN. “This time, I investigated whether they were mapping out their owner’s location spatially from the sounds.”

The study, which was conducted in a home environment and in a cat café, observed how cats would react to the voices of their owners without visual cues using speakers playing a recording of their owners saying their cats’ names. The researchers placed the speakers far apart, out of the cat’s view, to see how the cats would respond to sounds, especially if the owner’s voice seemed to be traveling from one place to another. Another group of people, who were not experts in animal behavior, rated cats’ surprise level on a scale from 0 to 4, based on behaviors such as ear and head movements.

The study concluded that the cats in the study were surprised when their owners appeared to be “moving” from one place to another. The results of this study show evidence of sociospatial cognition in cats, which means they can mentally imagine where others are through cues such as sound.

“It is generally believed that cats are not as interested in their owners as dogs are, but it turns out that they mentally represent the invisible presence of their owners,” Takagi said.

A cat’s mind can be complex (in more than one way)

Other animals, such as vervet monkeys and meerkats, show this meaning as well. This ability to form mental images based on sound and other stimuli that indicate complex thinking, the study said. The ability is especially important for animals that need to hunt prey in poor vision.

“This is an ability that is the basis of creativity and imagination,” Takagi said. “Cats are believed to have a much deeper mind than is believed.”

Ingrid Johnson, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant at basically felineCats, he said, can stick to humans—especially as they get older. She said some big cats wake up sad when they can’t see or hear their owners.

“This is a great example of raising our expectations for a cat a little bit and realizing that they have the potential to have that bond in that relationship where they will feel comfortable with their people,” Johnson said.

Studies have found that cats can also distinguish between their species Owners and voices of strangersAnd they can recognize her emotional sounds.

“Cats spend most of their time sleeping, and people often think it’s okay for cats to just sleep,” Takagi said. “But cats… you probably think about many things.”

Our feline friends may be more perceptive—and hear more—than we give them credit for.

Whether they choose to listen to you is a different story (or study).


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