Study Shows That Cats React to the Sound of Their Own Name

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Does your cat turn around, move their tail or twitch their ears when you call him or her? A new study suggests that cats respond to the sound of their name. 

Earlier this year, Atsuko Saito of Sophia University in Tokyo published the results of his research in the journal Scientific Reports.  He concluded that although cats don’t have a full understanding of the meaning of words, their name are associated with rewards like food or praise because they heard it often. 

According to, the experiment consisted of 16 to 34 animals and each cat heard a recording of its owner’s voice or another person’s voice that slowly recited a list of four nouns or other cat’s names, followed by their own name. Sure enough when they heard their own name, the cats perked up!

How does your cat respond to his/her name?

19 thoughts on “Study Shows That Cats React to the Sound of Their Own Name

  • Susan
    June 25, 2019 at 4:34 am

    Cats certainly do know their names–and many other words that are used often. I’ve never had a cat who did not respond to his or her name by either coming to me if in another room or turning to look at me if nearby. My cats have always known words or phrases like “time to eat,” “daddy’s home,” where’s (another kitty’s name,) “where’s your (favorite toy)” among others. People assume too much about the supposed limitations of teaching or training cats. Just like people or dogs, all cats are different with varied levels of concentration and recognition. In a quiet, serene atmosphere, cats are capable of learning common household names and phrases.

  • dee
    June 25, 2019 at 7:17 am

    when i call mine by their names they come; they are smart and prove it daily; we are defiantly cat people

  • Pattie
    June 25, 2019 at 7:59 am

    My cats talk to me and I know what they want from their posture and sounds. Also, they know the names of the rest of my pack of 2 dogs and 2 cats. My Tux is 14 going on 15 now and still playing and a happy cat.

  • Pam Smith
    June 25, 2019 at 8:36 am

    I have a special cat toy with yellow feathers on the end of the stick that my 4 cats go crazy over when dangled above them or on the floor for them to catch or chase.

    But the most amazing thing is that when I either say “Play” or spell the word, “P L A Y”, my Siamese cat, Guinness knows of what I speak and goes to the drawer in which the play thing is. Once he touches that drawer, I pull out the play toy and we all play for a while.

    Sometimes Guinness even speaks to me as a Siamese does and he goes to the drawer and points to it. We all play then with it and have fun together.

    So, not only does Guinness know the word, but he can spell too!!!

  • Nancy Fifer
    June 25, 2019 at 8:41 am

    I call my cat Sweet Pea to come and finish eating her breakfast and she comes in from another room and finishes the contents of the bowl! Another cat, Miss PussyWillow Flufferpants meows ow when she wants to go out.

  • Shellie
    June 25, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Amen, sister Susan! Purrfectly said! I have never had a cat that did not respond to their name. I have had cats that do tricks, such as fetch. I have had and do have cats that are waiting at the door to greet me when they hear the car coming down the street…how do I know? I have been told that they jump down from wherever they are and run to the door and wait.

    • brook
      June 25, 2019 at 9:11 pm

      I believe it was Martha Stewart who said she was a dog person because a cat wouldn’t greet her at the door when she came home, we know differently. My kat learned to sit in 1 1/2 days and I’ve never had a dog who was able to accomplish that. He also learned how to walk on a leash and what it is for after the first walk and he never gets it wrapped around his legs! I’d better not accidentally rattle it if I don’t want to Walkie Walkie, which he knows the meaning of too. He is a house kat and is only able to out without me if he goes out in his carrier so when he want to go out he finds me in the house and tells me. When i acknowledge his request he dashes into it’s door and waits, then he tells me when he’s ready to come in. AND he is not OK being left alone for any more than part of a day. I don’t know when all these myths began or why they are still so prevalent.

  • Cindy Reaper
    June 25, 2019 at 9:00 am

    My sweet girl, Sophie does not only know her name, but if I say: “Sophie, Come!” she comes running from wherever she is in my home! Good Girl!

  • Joanna
    June 25, 2019 at 9:59 am

    I rescue and re home cats and kittens. I’ve had as many as 25 cats in my home. They all knew their name and the name of all the others. They all knew when I was calling them to get a special treat like catnip or fresh grass.

  • Michele
    June 25, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Cats definitely know their names, whether they choose to answer to it, is another story. They understand a lot more than they are given credit for.

  • Joyce Marshall
    June 25, 2019 at 10:55 am

    This is more a question. If you do not know a rescue cat’s name, what do you do?

    • Maria
      July 9, 2019 at 9:03 am

      Give the cat a new name? I’m sure they’re smart enough to adjust. 🙂

  • Lassie B
    June 25, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Some cats are more ‘dog-like’ than others. We had a Himalayan cat who would fetch little toys thrown for him, for an hour! We had another who was a couch potato. We had cats who saw themselves in a mirror, others who didn’t have a clue. So maybe they do recognize their own names, though I thought they might respond to the tone of voice. Say, ‘Mr. Kibbles’ in a monotone, nothing – say ‘Mr. KIB-elllz’ and you might get a response.

  • Linda Riggert
    June 25, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    I am not signing up with instagram to view kitty. Why are you showing this?

  • Laura
    June 25, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    I didn’t need to read about this study—I’ve known it ever since I adopted my first cat!

  • WRT
    June 25, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    In my experience with cats, I got a response if I used the cat’s name or an occasional nickname. My interpretation is the cat was responding to the sound and tone of the voice rather than their name.

  • Timothy A. Spong
    June 25, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Are you sure Atsuko Saito is a “he”? I once corresponded for several years with a Japanese girl/young woman (at that time) with the given name “Atsuko” who sent a letter to my local newspaper seeking a pen pal.

  • shawna Marie gunter
    June 25, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    My cat “Bobbi” knows how to sit, wave hi, and High Five, she also comes when you call her name no matter where she is. 🙂

  • Shari
    July 3, 2019 at 7:02 am

    Cats have been treated so long as ‘stupid.’ It’s the researchers (?) who write such articles that are stupid. Anyone who lives with a cat knows they recognize their names and a lot more than they are given credit.

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