Cats, they're like dogs, but dogs who are assholes and are literally just waiting for you to die so they can eat your body. And yet, we let them into our homes. We embrace them with open arms, and in return, they... well they sort of just dither about, largely ignoring us, occasionally returning for food and semi-regularly bringing back the carcass of some small rodent or bird to set at your feet as a kind of offering as if you were some large deity.
While dogs are able to retain basic information, such as their name and basic commands, cats largely seem utterly ambivalent to responding to us. It often seems uncertain however whether they simply lack the requisite powers of cognition to compete on parity, or whether they simply don't care to deign us with any basic responses.
A recent study, conducted in Japan,and published in the journal 'Scientific Reports', sought to determine how much cats were able to understand human words. It sought to ascertain how much cats reacted to their names. It did this by having someone speak a random list of words to cats, with their name among them, and measuring whether they responded in any meaningful way when their name was spoken.
They found that cats would provide basic responses, such as pricking their ears or moving their heads when their names were called. However, they would rarely show any more recognition than that, and certainly never showed the same levels of excitement in response to their name as would a dog.
An expert on human-animal interactions from the University of Bristol, John Bradshaw, told The Times of London that "Cats are just as good as dogs at learning - they're just not as keen to show their owners what they've learnt."
The author of the report, Atsuko Saito, from Sophia University in Tokyo, said that "this work has shed new light on the ability of cats to communicate with humans; further clarifying cats' abilities with respect to cat-human communication will potentially enhance the welfare of both humans and cats."
Frankly, it seems that it is only cats who are not holding up their end of the bargain in this. It seems an ambitious task to try ensure that all cats, that every single cat, will see the importance of responding to its own name, but if that's the challenge he has set for himself, then more power to him.
H/T: Irish Times