Do cats know their own names?

8 August 2018, 12:35 | Updated: 10 August 2018, 12:35

Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

It's quite a magical feeling when your cat actually appears to respond to its name.

Cats are notoriously independent, and often prefer to only respond to human attention when it suits them.

Dogs are far more attentive, and will make it perfectly clear that they know their name by running to their owner as soon as it's muttered.

But what about cats?

Cat behaviour expert Anita Kelsey says cats don’t necessarily know their names, but they do respond to certain tones and repetitions.

"Cats won’t know what a word means but they act on repetition and the consequences of the word," she told Metro. "They can also recognise a specific tone of voice.


"So, for example, you could say ‘din dins’ which results in food coming and after that, they’ll know that the phrase means that food is on the cards.

"It’s the same with names. People call their cats using a different tone and they recognise the tone and sound meaning that attention from their human is going to follow.

"The repetitiveness of a name can result in a cat responding, simply because they’ve been conditioned to expect attention from their owner afterwards.

"It’s the tone, the sound of the word, repetitive usage and what comes after that a cat responds to, rather than the name itself.’

Cats are far less likely to respond to calls than their canine pals. This is down to their evolutionary biology.

Cats aren’t pack animals like dogs, and are often solitary hunters who don’t need a group to survive.

So essentially, don't expect your cat to respond to various calls of "mittens" unless food is involved. Such divas.