The Truth About Cats and Dogs: Study Find Cats Recognize Owners’ Voices But Choose To Ignore Them

cebdxgaThere is a new study out of the University of Japan that explains a lot to people who find cats, including their own, remarkably aloof and uninterested in them. The study suggestions that pet cats are capable of recognizing their owner’s voice but simply choose to ignore them. This, it is suggested, was the result of a long evolutionary history that selected such dismissive traits.

Researchers Atsuko Saito and Kazutaka Shinozuka observed cats in their homes in their interaction with owners and strangers. They found physical responses to their owner’s voice — greater responses to their owners than to strangers. They declined to move when called by strangers. Moreoever, “these results indicate that cats do not actively respond with communicative behavior to owners who are calling them from out of sight, even though they can distinguish their owners’ voices . . . This cat–owner relationship is in contrast to that with dogs.” In other words, dogs want to be with their owners, even when they cannot see them.

What is particularly interesting is that, unlike dogs, the researchers believe that cats (Felis silvestris, a species of wildcat) essentially domesticated themselves by seeing farms with grain and rats as a good deal. Accordingly, they were there on their own accord and on their own terms. “Historically speaking, cats, unlike dogs, have not been domesticated to obey humans’ orders.”

So there you have it. Now I am going to go play with my dog, Luna (who is in “the dog’s house” after, when we all went to play in the Turkey Bowl, jumped up on the counter and grabbed the beautiful floral centerpiece sent by my mother in Chicago and shredded it. That is an entirely different human/dog command issue).

Source: Independent

38 thoughts on “The Truth About Cats and Dogs: Study Find Cats Recognize Owners’ Voices But Choose To Ignore Them

  1. When one figures out that the feline owns the house…. All goes well…. Never dis a cat…. They have long memories…..

  2. You could have avoided this problem if you had included Luna in the Turley Turkey Bowl. She would make an excellent tight end I would think. You might have a problem getting the ball back after she scores though.

  3. Randy,

    Your joke reminded me of the many teenaged pick-up football games that were ended when my Great Dane decided he wanted to play. Which of course changed the game from “football” to “chase the dog”. Thanks for the memory.

  4. Anyone out there have a Linx Pointe Siamese cat? We have a guy here at the marina who talks all the time. He will come when you call and bug you for food, attention, space on the kitchen counter, et al.

  5. I personally think cats do this for other reasons that are a “designed” self-defense tactical instinct. They do so much to enhance their stealth like burying their feces carefully to thwart any potential adversaries, never running headstrong into a unknown noisy scenario like a dog to investigate, hide heir internal illness by feigning healthiness so as not to alert adversaries of any weakness, and on and on.

    When they ignore a owner’s request to “come here” or “here kitty kitty kitty”, I think it’s out of self-preservation as they do not know what you actually want. Or an adversary might intercede on the way to you. So they need to sniff the air, turret around to look in your direction checking out the area first, see if you have any incentives like kitty-treats in your hand, etc. They won’t make the trip for nothing. There’s got to be a pay-off somewhere like pleasantly stroking their head at least.

    What get’s me is when you look at all of this complex animal behavior which appears to be instinctive and handed done through complex DNA, looking at the cat’s amazing eyes (arguably a technical marvel of super-sentient architecture), it’s internal organs that mysteriously causes the purring, their highly adaptive hunting skills, etc… what gets me is this arguably nonsensical statement above: “This, it is suggested, was the result of a long evolutionary history that selected such dismissive traits.”

    How much time does this mindless, sans-sentient, chaos, history need to be plausible? What radiometric (albeit intrinsically technically specious) data do have to support cat’s are that old? Do you have any transitional evidence (like fossils) to substantiate all of this implied sans-sentient ‘natural-selecting’ starting off with very faulty cats to the refined finished product today?

    All I’m saying is that when one uses the verb “selection” they are implying SENTIENCE. Mindless chaos can not plausibly “select” but super-sentience can and apparently did.

  6. They needed a study to know this?
    (My cats (often) come when called even when night and time for them to stay with me for the night. I can’t say the words “ice cream” without them running to the kitchen and waiting for me to serve them.)
    And no surprise about Luna. My parents Gordon setter once jumped up on the counter, got herself maneuvered into the small corner and ate a whole platter of defrosting steak.

  7. Just another reason why I prefer dogs. My dog needs me, while the cats that I had when I was young were just using us!

  8. Cats are amazingly intelligent. They have been known to imitate human activity like trying to manipulate a door knob to open a door, realizes that door swings open so they paw the door to open it just like we do, they have internal clocks to know what time it is and actually try and wake you up too with a gentle paw to the side of your face as if to say “well your getting up anyway so why not feed me know?”.

    Some cats even try to imitate human vocalization. It’s very rudimentary and not at the level of crows (corvids), parrots, and minahs, but is very clearly a word or a name they’ve heard over and over. I think there are many Youtube videos of this. I’ve witnessed a cat saying it’s owners name when it was sick and about to puke a hairball.

    FYI – meows are NOT the cat’s mode of communication with other cats. Scientist say they have 9 vocalizations specifically aimed at humans in the form of commands, requests, and emotions. Cats seem to have an inter-cat language that is non-verbal. It appears to be a sequence of eye-blinks. One way to endear yourself to a cat is to not call it and just gently look at it without touching blinking your eyes slowly. If they return the eye blink they are showing tentative acceptance. But just like a dog let them sniff the back of your hand before trying to touch them as they have 32 teeth and several little needle-like switchblades waiting to slice and dice you in self-defense. They constantly sharpen them on your furniture.

    Dolphins seem to have their idiosyncrasies too. Petting a wild dolphin can be dangerous without some sort of preamble like with cats. However, raking their teeth over your hand is thought to be the same thing as the eye-blink with kitty. Go figure…

    If you would like to see some really interesting anecdotal stuff regarding our USG using cats and dolphins for some really strange things: Google “Operation Acoustic Kitty” and for Dolphins “NMMP”.


  9. “arguably a technical marvel of super-sentient architecture”

    Or a product of natural selection, but enough about that.

    Cats are smarter and more emotional than some of you are giving them credit for. They have distinctive personalities and their way of thinking is considerably more alien to humans than the way dogs think, but they have emotional lives. Some, a great many in my experience, can be trained to varying degrees, but just like some dogs, some cats are truly untrainable. However, if you approach training a cat like training a dog, you are doomed to fail. While feral cats will form groups, they are not like the groups humans and dogs tend to form which are hierarchical. Individual relationships might be; for example a dominant tom over other males, but their groups are much looser than that. They don’t need to be because their survival doesn’t depend on pack hunting. They hunt solo (although some big cats like lions use cooperation and even then it’s only with the females). Although they may like having you in their group, they inherently see you as a peer even if you feed them. A dog conversely will see you as Alpha. That’s part of the reason for the “excess” adoration. You’re a boss dog to them. Subservience and a desire to please comes with that.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love dogs. I’ve had many a good dog. I’ve had many a good cat too. But they are very different from dogs psychologically and socially. That does not make them inferior. It makes them different. Just so, their companionship is different as well, but it is no less valid a relationship.

  10. “Or a product of natural selection, but enough about that.”

    Yes indeed…😉

    My favorite big cat is the Leopard. I like how it tries to outsmart Lions knowing they are not good tree-climbers. They take their catch-of-the-day up high into a tree and just sit there looking back at them smugly saying: “What?”

    In India Elephant drivers will wear a rear-faced mask to outsmart the Bengal Tigers. They seem to never attack humans if they are looking at them. So the mask looks like its looking backwards at them. And Tigers DO like water! I’ve seen it. Also the Lake Van Cat (small white domestic) in eastern Turkey and southern Armenia LIKES to swim in the lake! Go figure…

    I know you like movies like me. But do you believe any of that story about the ship-wrecked boy with some animals and a Tiger? The Tiger ate all the animals then turned it’s attention to the boy. Was supposed to be based on a true-story I think.

    Next time you get a chance watch your cat’s eye throughout the day and be amazed. Iris color changes and pupil shape-reconfiguration. And there is another eye-lid in there most of us know nothing about. Ancient Ninja warriors claimed to be able to figure out the time of day with a cat’s eye changes. It appears to follow the time of day or something.

    And no one has been able to pinpoint definitely where the purr actually comes from. Many good speculations though but still pretty much a mystery. Oh and watch the tail for another non-verbal communication.

  11. Oh I forgot to point out how the USAG John Ashcroft hated Calico (aka Tortoise-Shell) cats. Try Googling his alleged belief in crazy things about Calicoes. No wonder the Bush II Administration was so screwed up.

  12. Gene H.
    1, November 29, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Cats will use a litter box without training.

    that’s what i thought until i agreed to keep my daughters cats for her. one, the female, “chunk” craps beside the litterbox. never in it. when she pees she backs up against the side and most of it goes outside the box, but then she kicks a bunch of litter out to make a real mess.

    the other is a neurotic male who is missing his right rear paw (birth accident) she calls him “sparta”, i call him “yard”. he will answer to his name, when she calls him.
    he decided a couple of months ago to pull out all of the fur on his body, except for the three fingers width along his back that he apparently couldn’t reach. picture a three legged cat with a mohawk.
    at first my daughter accused me of shaving the cat until she saw him pulling his fur out.
    he has stopped doing that, at least. the neighbors were beginning to talk.

  13. pete,

    You old cat shaver you.😀 Sparta might have allergies. I have a cat who was doing the same thing, just not quite so bad. He’d pull out silver dollar size patches down his flanks and on his belly. I took him to the vet and said it was a skin/respiratory allergy. They prescribed something called AC/2 to spray him with and it helps a lot. They said it was basically liquid Benedryl for cats. He hates being sprayed with it, but he’s always grateful afterwards. Works like a charm, but it is noticeably a seasonal thing for him.

  14. My dog and I have trained each other so that we get along great. I give him a treat after he comes back in after doing his business outside. He trained me to give him a treat before he goes out. I still have to give him one when he comes in. He always waits for permission before jumping on the furniture or in the car.

    I had several cats and always felt grateful that they allowed me to live in their house.

  15. My sister’s cat is great at sliding open the screen patio door, let’s herself out, and let’s in the varmints she then proceeds to massacre, it’s a blood bath. She only leaves the feet, eats the rest. Nice kitty.

  16. I love calicoes and always have at least one around. The White House needs a First Feline for a change.

    We had a cat who could open doors. He shocked a few people by opening the bathroom door on them.

    Once upon a Thanksgiving, quite a long time ago, as my family and I passed around a plateful of dark and white turkey meat, bowls of mashed potatoes, and boats of gravy, we heard a crash from the kitchen. Our calico had knocked the carving knife and fork to the floor and was helping herself to her own turkey dinner. When we rushed in she tried to make off with a hunk but ended up sending the rest of the bird to the floor. Thankfully, most of the meat had already been plated, so we weren’t out any good turkey leftovers!

  17. Gene: “…they are very different from dogs…”

    Cats are little aliens. And they have an agenda.

    SOTB re cat communication, cats also communicate to each other with their tail position and movements. We had a kitty born without a tail and the better half always thought that within our pod of kitties (all gone now, sigh) he was probably ‘disabled’ and didn’t get to participate in the catculture fully. There is a ear and as you speculate, an eye language too.

  18. @Pete – Your “Queen” may have some stress issues. Females tend to spray urine everywhere when they are under heavy stress. It’s always best to get each cat their own litter box. You may even make a privacy screen out of an inverted cardboard box with a archway cut in the front. That also cuts down on the smell.

    She is spreading litter offer her feces as a stealth-manuever. She is instinctively trying to cover up her scent under what she thinks is common dirt. But if she had her own private litter-box she would probably act differently.

    Also they and hold down on the loud talking, shouting, playing the TV/radio too loud, loud arguments with family members, shouting at the cat, etc. All that can cause undue stress to a visiting cat. Try and make a high perch for them that they have to climb up to get to. Always have fresh water for them. Having their own feed bowl is a plus but not always mandatory.

    @lottakatz – Yes the QUESTION mark tail always gets me. Then there’s the puffed out tail due to her seeing another cat outside. She turns into a psycho cat and targets bare feet. That tail communication is now loud and clear to us here. LOOK OUT psycho-cat on the lose!😆

    @Gene H. – Yes that’s the movie… but what’s your opinion on it being based on true incidents? I just can’t see a big predator in a small boat with other animals. Why wouldn’t the others go overboard to get away from it? They can swim until the sharks get them.

    Did you see that news story about the Cougar that got the zoo lady recently? The 911 tapes were chilling. I had a “peaceful” run in with a wild cougar once but I was scared silly the whole time. It was in the Southern New England woods back in the late 80’s on the side of a mountain cliff I was illegally trying to climb (got caught too at the summit by the park warden). It never bothered me once. It just walked by in front of me by 30-40′ and went into the high under growth. It lasted a full 30 minutes. I froze the entire time. The park warden was highly skeptical as he thought they didn’t exist in Connecticut. But they do. Has been in news recently too.

  19. Prairie Rose 1, November 30, 2013 at 12:55 am

    I love calicoes and always have at least one around. The White House needs a First Feline for a change.

    There have been 12 First-Kitties. The last one was a black American Shorthair which was George W Bush’s cat “India”. It died in office.😦

    The Obama’s want to get one but unfortunately due to daughter Malia’s allergies they won’t be getting one any time soon. Their dogs Sunny and Bo are hypoallergenic breeds. Sunny is a Portuguese Water dog.

    BTW I bet your Calico is a female? Lucky guess? No…


  20. “There have been 12 First-Kitties. The last one was a black American Shorthair which was George W Bush’s cat “India”. It died in office. :-(”

    Sheesh, I do not recall the media ever acknowledging a First Kitty. Thanks for the info. I agree, poor kitty!

    “The Obama’s want to get one but unfortunately due to daughter Malia’s allergies they won’t be getting one any time soon. Their dogs Sunny and Bo are hypoallergenic breeds. Sunny is a Portuguese Water dog.”

    I think Sphinx are fairly hypoallergenic, but I just can’t imagine cuddling one. I like my kitties fluffy.

    “BTW I bet your Calico is a female? Lucky guess? No…”

    Yeah. I’m not so lucky as to have a once in a blue moon male (albeit sterile) calico. We’ve had polydactyls, though!

  21. sobt

    haha i’ve always referred to her as the “princess”. she has “going outside” issues. absolutely will not go outside. she accidentally went through a hole in a screen the others go out of and got stuck outside. 4:30 in the morning and i thought a wolverine was trying to break in.

    i may try getting her a special litter box.

  22. SOTB,

    Nope. It’s a work of fiction. However, the tiger – Richard Parker – is named for a character in “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” by Edgar Allen Poe which was inspired by true events in Poe’s time. Shipwreck tales are nothing new. They’re good grist for the drama mill. What’s odd about that though is that Louis L’Amour really was shipwrecked in WWII on a desert island ala Tom Hanks in “Castaway” but refused to write about it or even talk about it. His reasoning was “no one wants to hear about that”.

  23. ————————————————————————–
    The Truth:
    Study Find MEN Recognize Wives Voices But Choose To Ignore Them


  24. “Prairie Rose, Do you remember “Socks” from the Clinton administration? Jimmy Carter’s daughter had a kitty also.”

    Sorry, Lottakatz, the Clinton administration was back when I was not observing the political scene very much. And, I was a wee babe during the Carter administration. Glad to know First Felines are not as sparse as I had thought they were! :)

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