In the morning, I’ll usually put the news on while I get ready for work.
Moo, my cat, will go and park himself under the TV and look at the screen. Right now he’s watching National Geographic.
Anyway, with the news, I know what he’s planning. The news tickers at the bottom of the screen – those panels of scrolling text – drive him mad and he quite likes trying to get them to stop, jumping at the screen with his feet.
To stop him doing that, I’ll shout his name. He knows I’m shouting – his ears move in my direction – but it doesn’t do any good. He ignores me.
A new study from the University of Tokyo has confirmed that Moo is acting perfectly normally in his ignorance, showing that although pet cats are more than capable of recognising their owner’s voice they choose to ignore them – for reasons that are perhaps rooted in the evolutionary history of the animal.
When the cats’ humans were out the room, the researchers would play three voices saying their name, followed by their human’s voice saying their name, followed by another voice saying their name.
“[The] 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,” write Atsuko Saito and Kazutaka Shinozuka.
Apparently the history of domestication of cats could play a part. They moved in to interact with humans of their own intiative because the humans were useful – their farming attracted rodents.
(Nat Geo just showed lions mating. I had to cover Moo’s eyes because I’m not sure he’s old enough for porn.)
The researchers say the cats effectively domesticated themselves and so have never needed to go to the faff and hassle of responding to commands, unlike dogs.
The study concludes by observing that “the behavioural aspect of cats that cause their owners to become attached to them are still undetermined.”
Yep, I’m pretty sure that Moo is just being a knob.