Yes, your cat knows you're talking to it — it just doesn't care.
Every cat person has suspected that their cats are ignoring them — and now, new research seems to support that hunch.
As a new study published in the journal Animal Cognition details, feline researchers have demonstrated that cats do appear to know when their owners are talking to them, but that sometimes, they choose to ignore it.
The researchers sat with 16 cat-people pairs who lived in studio apartments, and playing them recordings of the pair interacting, followed by recordings of the humans saying the same words they use when baby-talking their cats, but in a voice register similar to that which they'd use to speak to other humans. The researchers also played them recordings of other humans speaking to them as well, which the cats didn't respond much to at all.
To the shock of no one who's ever tried repeatedly to get their cat's attention, the felines seemed to be able to differentiate between the tone of voice used when their humans were speaking to them versus that which humans use to speak to each other. In other words, cats seem to know who's talking to them and if they're being spoken to — even if they act like they don't.
I Cat Even
The most interesting — and funniest — finding in the study, which was conducted by researchers at the Paris Nanterre University, was that some of the cats only indicated that they'd heard their person speaking to them in the baby-talk register by twitching their ears and otherwise seeming completely disinterested in the recordings.
In other instances, some of the cats would look towards the sound of their owner's kitten-babble and meow, pause its activities, or otherwise respond.
"Our results highlight the importance of one-to-one relationships for indoor companion cats," the researchers wrote in the paper, "who do not seem to generalize the communication developed with one human to all human interlocutors."
Translation: cats seem to know when their own people are talking to them — but that doesn't mean they care.
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