CaseyA recent study, carried out by Dr Atsuko Saito of Sophia University in Japan, determined whether domestic cats knew or understood their name.  Scientists observed 78 cats; some living in domestic circumstances while others were in cat cafes.  Their names were said, along with other nouns of similar length to see if the cats could make the distinction between the words.

Interestingly, the cats in households did understand their names, while the cats in the cat cafes didn’t seem to.  The reason given for this was that in a home environment, the cat interacts with one or two humans so understands their voices.  In the cat cafes, there are several people at any one time, talking to the cats, so it’s possible they become confused.

Dr John Bradshaw of the University of Bristol argues that cats are more likely to understand the rattle of their biscuit box rather than the sound of their name. I’m astonished by his comments because he’s an eminent scientist in his field, having written books on cat behaviour.  You may remember his programme on BBC2 back in 2012-2013 ‘The Secret Life of Cats’. He sounds rather unconvinced about cats knowing their own name and this surprised me.

I’ve had cats for 33 years and every cat I’ve ever had the privilege to share my home has understood his name.  Not only do they come when called individually, but they understand simple commands and directions.


‘Come away,’ when I don’t want them to go into a cupboard or ‘out of bounds’ place;

‘Do you want some breakfast, dinner?’;

‘Shall we feed the birdies?’ said to Timmy who liked to watch as I fed the birds;

‘Sit down for Mummy, please,’ when I want them to wait while I prepare their meals;

‘You coming upstairs with Mummy?’ said to my current cat, Casey, who often leads the way upstairs.

‘Mummy’s having a sleep on the sofa now, Casey’ called out to him if he’s upstairs, and moments later, he’ll come downstairs to spoon with me.

Sam under the carpetOne of my cats, Sam, was very intelligent.  ‘Where’s mouse?’ I’d ask him of a cat nip mouse that he liked playing with.  After a few minutes of rummaging in the toy box, he’d bring it to me and put it at my feet.  If it had been lost under the Welsh dresser or the cooker, he’d stand by them and I’d know where to look.

I can’t believe that only now are studies being done to prove what many of us cat people have known for years; cats do know their names; they do understand simple commands, but they only respond if they really want to!



A Morning Kiss

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long white whiskers tickled, I began every day laughing.

Janet F Faure

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