In what is unlikely to come as a surprise to most cat owners, a new study by the University of Japan shows that while our feline friends can distinguish their owner's voices, their mental faculties are not developed enough to understand that they should care.
The study tested 20 house cats in their own homes, playing a series of recorded voices once their owners had gone out of sight.
The cats heard the voices of three strangers calling their names, then their owner's voice, then another stranger's voice.
Upon hearing their voices being called, the cats displayed "orientating behaviour", reacting and moving their ears and head toward the noise, but none chose to act upon the call.
While the cats displayed a greater response when their names were called by their owner, they did not come when called by any of the human participants.
"These results indicate that cats do not actively respond with communicative behaviour to owners who are calling them from out of sight, even though they can distinguish their owners' voices," write the authors of the study Atsuko Saito and Kazutaka Shinozuka.
"This cat–owner relationship is in contrast to that with dogs," the authors write, suggesting that while man's best friend was domesticated to respond to human demands over thousands of years, cats essentially "domesticated themselves".
When the first human-cat interactions began around 9,000 while humans were developing agriculture, cats undertook the role of hunting rodents and did not need to learn to react to human responses.
"Historically speaking, cats, unlike dogs, have not been domesticated to obey humans' orders. Rather, they seem to take the initiative in human–cat interaction"
The study concluded that while there is little difference in the levels of the affection between cat and dog owners for their pets, the "behavioural aspect of cats that cause their owners to become attached to them are still undetermined".
Source: The Independent
Author: Nicholas McCallum, Approving editor: Dave Meddows
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