Study Shows Cats Recognize When They’re Being Spoken To In A “Baby Voice”

There is something unusual that many cat owners have in common, and that is the fact that they speak with a cat voice. It’s like a baby voice, but for cats.

Perhaps cat owners do it because they want a two-way conversation with their feline or perhaps it is just out of boredom. If you talk to your cat using a cat voice, there is something you should know.

Photo: Unsplash/Japheth Mast

According to a recent study from the Paris Nanterre University’s Laboratory of Compared Ethology and Cognition, when you’re using that “cat voice,” your feline is listening. They can recognize it and, by the way, you tend to speak in a higher-pitched voice when using it.

The relationship between humans and dogs has been studied thoroughly but there is not quite as much scientific research going into the relationship between cats and humans. This particular study, however, is something that does not come as a surprise to many cat owners because we know how awesome they are.

Photo: Unsplash/Zeke Tucker

There were 16 felines available for the research. They also enlisted the help of the owners of those cats.

In order to determine if cats can recognize their owner’s voices, they recorded their owner’s voice and the voice of a female that the cat was not familiar with. Regardless of whether it was the owner or the stranger, the cat was called by name.

Researchers took the recordings to the cats’ homes to play them and check out their reactions. When 10 out of the 16 cats heard the sound of their owner, they showed it through physical cues, including pupil dilation and flicking their ears.

Photo: Unsplash/Kristina Yadykina

Researchers also wanted to determine if those same cats could identify the cat voices spoken by their owners. Again, the owners were recorded talking to other humans. They also had a small clip of the owner addressing their pet in the special cat voice.

When the recordings were played back for the cats, which also included a stranger doing the same thing, most of the cats would pay attention when they heard their owner’s voice, particularly when they use the cat voice.

Photo: Unsplash/Michael Sum

According to Smithsonian Magazine, Charlotte de Mouzon, one of the authors of the study, said: “What we found is that cats can discriminate between speech that is specifically addressed just to them by their owner from their speech addressed to other humans.”

They went on to speak about the attachment that humans have with cats and to recognize that although cats are considered independent, they actually have that special bond and we mean something to them.

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