It's almost a refrain for cat owners, when arguing with dog owners: "No, my cat does know me. Cats are just too independent to come when we call!" Now, there's finally some proof. A study from a comparative cognitive science researcher at the University of Tokyo analyzed cat reactions to calls from both their owners and from strangers over a period of eight months. The findings?
The results showed that 50 percent to 70 percent of the cats turned their heads--a typical reaction to a sound--when they heard a human calling. Thirty percent moved their ears. But only 10 percent mewed or moved their tails--a cat's equivalent of replying, the researchers said.
According to the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan's largest newspapers, cats showed "more intensity" when reacting to their owners' voices, compared with the voice of a stranger. So it looks like cats do hear us, and probably do recognize our voices--they just don't bother responding.
With a little bit of a dig towards dog owners, the study's lead researcher said that the study can't be applied to dogs because, writes Asahi Shimbun, dogs are "generally friendly to anybody." The lead researcher, notes the paper, is a cat owner.