New Study Reveals Cats Can Recognize When Their Owners Use "Cat Voice"

Published on 2022-11-30
New Study Reveals Cats Can Recognize When Their Owners Use "Cat Voice"

A new study has found that when cat owners use ‘cat voice’ to address their cats, they understand what you're doing!

The study was carried out at Paris Nanterre University's Laboratory of Comparative Ethology and Cognition. It was led by Charlotte de Mouzon and her team, who have been studying human-cat relationships for years. She set up an experiment to see if cats responded to their owners and strangers and if the tone of voice made a difference.

There is far less scientific evidence on cat-human relationships than on dog-human relationships. This study, however, confirms what cat owners already know: their felines pay attention to them. Charlotte de Mouzon and her team conducted experiments on 16 cats and their owners.

In one scenario, the researchers pre-recorded the owners' voices as well as the voice of a female stranger, all of whom addressed each cat by name. They then played these voices in the cat's house to see how they reacted. Ten of the 16 cats responded to the sound of their human voice with physical cues such as ear movement and pupil dilation.

Another scenario was investigated to see if cats recognized their owners' "cat voices." For this, the researchers recorded the owners conversing with another human and another snippet of the owner speaking to their feline companion. These dialogues and another recording of a stranger following the same pattern were played for the cat subjects. When their owners switched to their "cat voices," most cats appeared to perk up.

De Mouzon said, "What we found is that cats can discriminate between speech that is specifically addressed just to them by their owner from their speech addressed to other humans."

"It's further evidence showing that there is an attachment between cats and humans. And I think that's important to keep in mind, because for decades, we have been thinking that cats are very independent creatures, that they just want food and shelter, and that they don't care about humans. The fact that they show a special reaction to a special way we talk to them means, I think, that we are something more just than a food provider in their world."