Sciences behavioral biology

Cats know when their owners talk to them

Four-legged friends understand their companions' communication Four-legged friends understand their companions' communication

Four-legged friends understand their companions’ communication

Coyle: Getty Images/Maria Zotova

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Obviously, animals know very well whether their owners are talking to them or to someone else. It is also about tone of voice. On the other hand, cats don’t care what strangers gossip about.

KCats can tell if their owners are talking to them or to a human. At least this is the result of a small French study published in the journal “animal perceptionHas been published. For the three authors, the study confirms what cat owners have long been convinced: animals can form close relationships with humans. On the other hand, they ignore rumors of strangers, according to another observation of the researchers.

The old saying “Dogs have owners, the cats The staff summarizes what is generally assumed to be a typical personality: cats are more selfish, more independent, and constructive – differently than, say, dog – Hardly any bond to the owners. The study by behavioral biologist Charlotte de Mozon of the University of Paris Nanterre suggests that animals don’t care about their owners as much as bias suggests.

It has long been known that a person’s tone of voice changes depending on whether they are talking to adults, children or their pets. De Mouzon’s team studied how 16 cats responded to pre-recorded sounds of their owner and a stranger when they said phrases in a human-directed and human-directed tone. She ran appropriate tape recordings and documented reflexes such as ear movements, pupil dilation, tail movements and general arousal.

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In fact, the cats’ behavior intensified when their owner called their name instead of a strange one. In another audio recording, the owners first spoke in the direction of another human and then addressed their animals. The change in tone increased the intensity of the behavior. In other words, cats can apparently tell that they are being spoken to now. However, the animals did not care about a stranger’s voice—regardless of whether they were spoken to directly or if the audio recording was directed at another human.

The study authors concluded that the results indicated that cats could distinguish speech directed at them specifically from speech directed at humans. However, patterns of differentiation only appear when cat owners interact with cats. “The realization that cats have the ability to understand a particular way of communication from their owner is further evidence that people should view cats as sensitive and communicative individuals.”

As the authors themselves noted, the sample is small, so the results may not be representative of cat behavior. However, it is again an indication that animals can form strong bonds with humans.

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In fact, in recent years, a growing body of research has suggested that furry friends see their human owners as more than just can openers. This was one result published in 2019 American studyAnimals often form similar emotional bonds with their owners as children do with adults. It was four years ago Italian researchers Reports indicate that cats turn to their humans for guidance in situations that they find unsafe. And in 2020, a Brazilian study indicated that pets miss their owners when they are left alone. The authors concluded that “cats can be considered social partners of their owners and vice versa.”

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