Research Shows: Your Cat Really Understands What You're Saying

Research Shows: Your Cat Really Understands What You’re Saying

Cats are social animals that can bond closely with their owners, according to a growing body of research.Image Getty Images

Have you talked to your cat before? Nothing strange, you are far from the only one, and the cats also feel like handling. This has been scientifically proven by animal behavior research at the University of Paris in Nanterre, France, which shows that cats can distinguish between speech directed at them specifically and speech between humans.

Charlotte de Mozon, lead author of an article in a scientific journal, says: animal perception. She and two mates had sixteen indoor cats listening to audio recordings of both their owners and people unfamiliar with the cat uttering specific phrases (“Do you want to play?”, “Do you want to eat?”).

These phrases were recorded in two ways: the usual way you talk to other adults, and in “cat talk”: loud and exaggerated tone and tone. “This is what we call it A letter from a catDe Mozon says. It is close to the children’s language that we sometimes refer to as children. The researchers then recorded the animals’ responses to see what differences they might notice.

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De Mozon: “This is not easy with cats, because cats can react in many different ways.” French cat psychologists have experimented with a relatively new technique, based on habituation: if you hear something many times, it is not new. For example, cats have heard “Do you want to play?” three times. In normal speech, then in cat talk. If an animal changes its behavior in response to a change, for example going from lying quietly to looking around, this indicates that it has heard something new. This also means that you can hear the difference between the two types of speech.

Analysis of the recordings, three hundred videos of cats that De Mouzon and colleagues had to manually rehearse, shows that cats can clearly distinguish between “normal” human speech and speech intended for them, “but only if it’s their owner.” De Mozon says.

This also means cats clearly recognize their owner’s voice, admits De Mouzon, but this was actually proven in 2013 by Kazutaka Shinozuka of the South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, Florida.

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The findings are examples of a growing body of scientific research showing that, contrary to their sometimes aloof reputation, cats are social animals who can form close bonds with their owners. For example, researchers have shown that cats keep an eye on where their owner is (they react with astonishment when his voice suddenly comes from somewhere else), and that they can distinguish between different emotions in human voices, which they can understand when someone is pointing at something (which was unexpected). ), and they look to their owners to judge whether something is dangerous or not.

“Cats understand their owners more than the other way around,” says Esther Puma, an expert in cat behavior from Catwig, a cat behavior consultancy. “They are very good at adapting and learning in associations. For example, they learn that if their owner enters the kitchen, they may get a reward if they walk behind him.” Puma, also a researcher, believes that the results of the French study make sense: “For most cats, their owner is the most important thing, and other people’s speech is more background noise.”

squinting your eyes slowly

Some owners will even find it an open door, she admits, given people’s tendency to attribute a lot of human traits to their animals. “People say, ‘Yeah, she pees on my bed because she’s jealous. That’s how she gets revenge,’ but there is no indication that cats think that way.” That’s why it’s important to use sound scientific research methods.

“Scientists do research mainly because they are interested, but such research can also help people better understand, communicate, and care for their cats,” says De Mouzon. For example, a slow stare into a cat’s eyes has also been shown to be a positive sign: I mean no harm. Puma: “So you can use that consciously if you want to comfort a cat.”

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