Cats and science: three studies to explain their behaviour

Cats and science: three studies to explain their behaviour
They understand their name and your emotions, they love you as much as dogs do: below are three studies to learn more about our beloved feline friends and their social intelligence.
You probably think you already know many things about dogs. However, it’s not the same for cats: maybe it’s for their elusive nature, maybe it’s for some stereotypes or prejudices about them. Anyway, some experts are changing the trend and started, some years ago, to study cats’ social intelligence: even though cats’ lovers and owners won’t be surprised, the results speak for theirselves! Let’s find them out together.

Cats understand their name and their relatives’ names
You should get it: cats know really well how to draw some attention, especially by meowing. Anyway, can they really understand their and our name? An interesting Japanese study has the right answers.
Experts carried out this study on two different groups of cats: domestic ones on one side and on the other Neko Cafè cats (cafés where you can spend some time in your four-legged friend’s company). The result? Cats can distinguish their name from other random words, even if it’s a stranger talking. There’s only one difference: Neko Cafè cats took a little bit more time to understand it – maybe they are used to hearing several names at the same time.
Another study proved our cats ability to learn their owner’s name. Both domestic and Neko Cafè cats were at the centre of an experiment with images and sounds. First, each cat was shown a picture of one of their housemate cats together with the owner’s recorded voice. Sometimes, cats could hear the voice saying the pet’s name in the picture, some others a different word. The same experiment was repeated with people’s photos (relatives or Neko Café’s owner): surprise! Domestic cats quickly recognised the right connections and were surprised with the wrong ones! Neko Cafè’s cats also reacted, although more calmly..

Cats love humans as much as dogs do
Are cats really solitary animals? Some researchers from the Oregon State University tried to find it out. What are the results? Cats love humans as much as dogs do: they’re just less effusive!
Researchers got 79 kittens and 38 adult cats: together with their owners, they were brought in an unfamiliar room where, afterwards, cats remained alone for a few minutes. Shortly after, the owners came back. At the end of the experiment, experts realised that cats, who had the strongest relationships with their owners – more than 65% of both groups – easily overcome the initial stress of being alone in a new place. In fact, without their owners, cats were quite nervous: however, once their favourite human came back, they needed only a few minutes to calm down and keep exploring the room. This proved that they could restart exploring when they felt safe enough. In a nutshell: if something unexpected happened, they knew they were protected!

Cats’ behaviour depends on their owners’ emotions
In 2015, a study revealed such an interesting information: cats’ behaviour depends on their owners’ emotions.
Cats, who took part to the study with their owners, were shown an object which had to arouse positive emotions in half of the owners and negative ones in the other half. The final results proved that there was a big “transmission of emotions”.
During the experiment, cats not only repeatedly looked at their owners (before or after seeing the object), as if they were looking for some help, but in the 79% of times they also mirrored the owner’s emotion. On one hand, people’s enthusiasm and curiosity, in fact, helped the cat to be more curious! On the other, negative feelings raised circumspection and doubts. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

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