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Domestic cats (Felis catus) discriminate their names from other words

Scientific Reports. 2019;9(1):1-8 DOI 10.1038/s41598-019-40616-4

 

Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Scientific Reports

ISSN: 2045-2322 (Online)

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

LCC Subject Category: Medicine | Science

Country of publisher: United Kingdom

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML

 

AUTHORS


Atsuko Saito (Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Science, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo)

Kazutaka Shinozuka (RIKEN Center for Brain Science)

Yuki Ito (Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Science, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo)

Toshikazu Hasegawa (Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Science, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo)

EDITORIAL INFORMATION

Blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 20 weeks

 

Abstract | Full Text

Abstract Two of the most common nonhuman animals that interact with humans are domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and cats (Felis catus). In contrast to dogs, the ability of domestic cats to communicate with humans has not been explored thoroughly. We used a habituation-dishabituation method to investigate whether domestic cats could discriminate human utterances, which consisted of cats’ own names, general nouns, and other cohabiting cats’ names. Cats from ordinary households and from a ‘cat café’ participated in the experiments. Among cats from ordinary households, cats habituated to the serial presentation of four different general nouns or four names of cohabiting cats showed a significant rebound in response to the subsequent presentation of their own names; these cats discriminated their own names from general nouns even when unfamiliar persons uttered them. These results indicate that cats are able to discriminate their own names from other words. There was no difference in discrimination of their own names from general nouns between cats from the cat café and household cats, but café cats did not discriminate their own names from other cohabiting cats’ names. We conclude that cats can discriminate the content of human utterances based on phonemic differences.