Do Cats Know Their Names?

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All pet owners have probably wondered whether their furry companion recognizes their name. This case is because there are situations in which the cat will respond to their name as quickly as you make it, whereas they seem to be ignoring you most times. A perfect example is a cat reacting to a call for food and ignoring your voice while destroying the couch. There are two significant aspects in regard to a cat’s response to nouns and names.


There is little information about a cat’s true intentions. The only bottom line is that domesticated cats are more vocal than their wild counterparts. How do cats differ from other intelligent animals like apes, dolphins, and parrots? Can they differentiate their names from other nouns?

Japanese study

Cats living in single-cat households may not have a response to the names of other cats. It was important for researchers to understand whether cats can pick their names from a series of different names in the household.

Thankfully, one Japanese did a simple study on cat behavior. The Department of Cognitive and Behavioral at the University of Tokyo published an academic journal that investigated how cats relate to names. The authors tested various cats in different habituations by using different sounds and names.

One sound was the cat’s name by the other owner. The others were random Japanese nouns and titles by the owners and random people. The experimenters recorded all the sounds and played them out in their homes, in the absence of the owner. They played four non-name sounds and followed with the real one.

The results of the study showed different reactions in the following aspects:

  • Movement of head, tail, and ears
  • Vocalization
  • Moving closer to the sound

The findings stated that cats have a meaningful stimulus to sound. They have strong responses to specific names and rely on phonemic differences in human sounds to differentiate names. This theory proves that cats can hear you, but choose to ignore you.

Saito’s research also strengthened the knowledge that cats are selfishly cute. They can interpret human gestures and sounds to understand whether the call will be of benefit. They will come to you when it’s mealtime or when they need a touch. The study begs us to understand why cats will only respond to certain sounds and names.

The researchers also concluded that cats could pick their names from a multitude of names. This case was apparent in both single and multi-cat homes. Cats in cat cafes are also able to distinguish similar-sounding names from their name. It was also an interesting observation when cats did not respond to their siblings’ names.

The study was also done in cafes that have a display of names on their walls. They called out several names in a bid to understand whether the cats would respond to all of them or singular names.

American study

The department of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of California Davis School had similar research under the management of Mikel Delgado. The researcher’s main focus was to narrow down and differentiate the results from the Japanese study.

Mikel began by stating that only a small number of cats responded to their name – only two-thirds of the 78 cats responded to their actual name. The behavior made the conclusion more profound than the real truth.

She also stated that the cats only responded to their names after several trials. The average score of each cat’s response was 0.5 to 1.5 for each experiment. Mikel’s answer concluded that the cats might have been responding to the tonal conviction of each call.

Delgado explained that most people call their cats with a specific pronunciation. We tend to treat our cats like babies and will call them with motherese – a high monotone pitch. The cats would respond when the exterminators used motherese and otherwise ignore while using other tones. These observations pose the dilemma of whether cats understand the concept of a name.

In simpler terms, the scientists wanted to understand whether the cats would be able to define the noun name if they could speak like humans. They leaned towards the theory that the cats do not understand the specifics of each title. This conclusion arose from the observations that cats in a café often responded to the names of other cats in the vicinity.

Delgado’s Studies

Delgado’s studies conclude that cats follow the same learning pattern as other cats. They have associative learning skills that are the same as those of other cats. Some cats are more sensitive to their names because they have a stronger desire for food or playtime.

There is still a lot to learn about a cat’s real mind workings. The room of improvement would include studying the various aspects of each cat’s persona. It would be more forthcoming if one could differentiate the cats’ relationships, lifestyle, and personalities, to gain a better understanding of its environment.

What is in a name?

Cats and several other pets show meaningful responses to their names. They will, however, ignore other similar-sounding nouns and names of pets living in the same household. They, however, did not discriminate against the sound of their names, whether it was by their owner of a stranger.

Scientists revealed that cats learn to pair the sound of their name with gifts. They become accustomed to hearing a specific name with petting and food. Jennifer Vonk is a cognitive psychologist from the University of Michigan who has a similar observation from her cats. She studied her cats’ responses to names by her husband. The conclusion was that the cats did not respond to all sorts of names, whether done by a normal voice or through a song.

How do cats differ from dogs in regards to names?

Dogs have a biological makeup that makes them enthusiastic to respond to their names. People have made an enormous contribution to the behavioral responses of dogs. This case is because people select and breed dogs to be obedient and highly responsive.

Cats differ from dogs because they domesticated themselves while hunting rats and mice in agricultural communities. Additionally, dogs have a 20,000-year head start over cats; hence they have a genetic makeup that eases the training. Dogs are much easier to train in comparison to cats. Cats will not accept any form of rewards of treats; instead, they will freeze in the face of scientists or a lab experiment.

How does evolution affect the cats’ responses?

The behavior of cats has undergone tremendous changes in the last two decades. Most pet cats used to spend a vast amount of their time outdoors. They only came indoors due to bad weather or at night.

More cats are spending their lives inside, and developing close contact with humans. The cat’s behaviors are changing to be able to read and respond to various human cues. The social bond between both species is growing stronger. Consequentially, they are becoming better ate understanding their names and the tone of the call

Understanding your cat’s name

As stated above, cats differ from dogs in several ways. They are careless and selfish enough to ignore you when they please. You have to create a plan that lets you understand your cats better and create a name that will reinforce a good relationship.

You have to motivate a cat to want to listen to you using a procedural instructional program. This case means you should know which tone the cat will appreciate and which one sounds like a scold.

Teaching a cat its name

Egyptians have a high reverence for names. They gave them a god-like status that assigned them powers of protection, fertility, favor, fertility, and many other blessings. They, therefore, did not live with nameless cats, as though they were other regular animals. Some common Egyptian cat names include the following:

  • Mau, which is the Egyptian word for cat
  • Aisha meaning peaceful
  • Amenti meaning the goddess of the land of the west
  • Annipe meaning the daughter of the Nile
  • Anukis meaning the goddess of the Nile
  • Aziza meaning precious
  • Chione meaning the daughter of the Nile
  • Isis to mean motherhood
  • Kamilah means perfect
  • Kepi symbolizes tempestuousness
  • Kiwu to mean obese

How to enforce better responses

Picking a name for your household cat is may not be as grand the Egyptian practices. It will, however, create a more realistic relationship and make it easier to train the cat further.

Begin by picking a name with only one or two syllables. Using a long and intricate name will leave you disappointed when they do not respond after the fourth call.  You can shorten a favorite name such as Fluffykitty Mr. Sassy Pants to just, Fluffy. A name like Sergeant could easily be its efficient short form, Sarge.

You must retain the first name you choose to avoid confusion. This case means that it is inadvisable to change the original title to a nickname after the cat has proper adaptation to the original one – consistency is critical when training any furry friend.

Start early

You are likely to have better experience training your cat when you begin before the 12th-week mark. Older cats are more accustomed to their ways because of cognitive deterioration.

Use gifts

You should train your cat to respond by including acts of love. Attention and verbal praise are natural, and free rewards for a kitten. The cat will appreciate your training more when you introduce tangible gifts like play toys and food.

The best food choice is tuna or cheese. You can, however, experiment with different foods because every cat has a different taste bud. Eventually, wane the cat off food treats and induce games like laser pointers to diversify the training.


Cats can understand the emotions behind your words. While they may not cringe and hand their heads down like dogs, they will absorb your mood and begin to retaliate as a defense mechanism. Do not scold your cat when they do not respond to their name after a lengthy training session. Simple revise the methods and use firm words to refrain them from bad behavior.

Another aspect of increasing positivity is to understand that cats will ignore when they do not want to indulge in any games or get a cuddle. They may prefer to enjoy their time alone or in the outdoors.

Specific pitches

Do not feel embarrassed about talking to your cat in a baby-like tone. Starting with this tone will ease them into listening and responding better. Cats respond better to female voices; because they have a more extensive range of sounds – the cat can pick out analyze the tone before responding. Loud voices are startling and will send most cats running.

Cats will also learn their names fast when you use one person in training. This is evident when the cat shies away from a stranger calling its name.

Use training tools

Pam Johnson Bennett is the author of Think Like a Cat – How to Raise a Well Adjusted Cat – Not a Sour Puss. She is a famous cat expert who has similar materials like Catwise and Cat vs. Cat. She has formidable praises from other cat book authors like Steve Dale, who recognize and honor her acute perception.

Using this training tool will help you help your cat in more ways than just assigning a name. The topics range from assisting the cat in adjusting to a scratching post, to solving the avoidance of the litter box. The comprehensive $12 guide acquaints any cat newbie to the instincts that drive both kittens and cats. You can use the techniques while incorporating your chosen name before each treat.

Finally, find a cat-naming guide that will ease your selection process. Katherine Hupp published more than three thousand useful cat names. Purchase the Kindle or paperback edition at not more than $7 and enjoy picking a title with your family. Most importantly, you get to enjoy the numerous insertions of eye-catching pictures.

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