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Cats recognise owner’s voice but don’t care enough to respond, say scientists

Scientists have confirmed what cat owners have secretly feared – their felines know they are being spoken to but don’t care enough to respond.

And the research suggests they think they are the boss.

A study has revealed that while moggies recognise their owner’s voice and can distinguish the tone from a stranger’s call, they just can’t be bothered to react to it.

It reckons that their aloof nature goes back to a time when they were first domesticated but not trained to follow commands like dogs.

Published in the Animal Cognition journal the report states: “Historically speaking, cats, unlike dogs, have not been domesticated to obey humans’ orders.

“Rather, they seem to take the initiative in human–cat interaction.”

Researchers carried out tests on 20 cats and played voice recordings of their owners and three strangers to see how they would react.

The cats flicked their tails or moved their ears to locate where the voices were coming from and seemed more responsive to their owner’s voice.

But that was not enough to motivate them to move, according to the study by the University of Tokyo.

The report said: “These results indicate that cats do not actively respond with communicative behaviour to owners who are calling them from out of sight, even though they can distinguish their owners’ voices.

“This cat–owner relationship is in contrast to that with dogs.”