我们一起学猫叫

Cat Names

据说,人呼唤猫都会被猫无视,几乎所有铲屎官都可以为此作证。然而一项最新研究表明,猫确实能够识别它们的名字,或者说,猫至少确实知道人在对它们说话,只是可能不会回复罢了。

我觉得猫可以将它们的名字和一些奖惩措施联系起来。东京索菲亚大学的一名行为科学家斋藤说。科学家以前就曾演示过,猫可以识别它们主人的声音。而在这项新研究当中,斋藤和同事研究了猫听到人类叫它们名字后的反映,他们研究了七十八只猫,有的来自普通日本家庭,有的来自一家猫咖啡,猫咖啡是一种客人可以和猫互动的商店。

斋藤和同事让猫主人说了四个字,发音跟他们家猫的名字很相似,猫会逐渐习惯这些词汇,最后停止回应。接下来,猫主人叫出猫的实际名字,这时猫的回应更多,比如动耳朵,摆脑袋,摇尾巴,喵喵叫,这比听到名字近音词或其它猫名字的时候反应更大,这项研究结果发表在科学汇报杂志上。

研究人员还让猫咪从没见过的陌生人叫猫的名字,虽然猫的反应没有它们主人叫唤的时候那么明显,但是它们似乎还是能够辨识出陌生人在叫自己的名字。然而当被叫到自己名字的时候,这些猫知道些什么呢?

现在还没有证据表明这些猫能够像我们人类这样,认识到这是别人在呼唤自己,所以说,猫咪对于名字的认知是和人类不一样的。但是斋藤说,他认为,我们可以教猫辨识除了他们的名字之外的其它词汇。我们的同事正在研究猫可否认识和它们生活在一起的其它猫的名字。这种认知是不是就意味着人类可以最终训练猫对语音指令进行回应,就像训狗一样呢,有可能。

原文

Almost any cat owner will testify to the felines’ apparent indifference to humans when we call their names. But according to a recent study, cats do recognize their names - or at least that we are indeed addressing them. It’s just that they still may not respond.

“I think cats associate sounds of their names with some rewards or punishments.” Atsuko Saito, a behavioral scientist at Sophia University in Tokyo. Saito previously demonstrated that cats recognize their owners’ voices. In the new work, she and colleagues investigated the reactions of cats to hearing humans say their names. The study included 78 cats from Japanese households and from a “cat café,” a business where patrons can interact with felines.

Saito and her colleagues had owners say four words that sounded similar to their cats’ names until the animals habituated to those words and stopped responding. Next, the owners said the felines’ actual names. And indeed, the cats had more pronounced responses—moving their ears, heads, tails or meowing—than they did to similar words or to other cats’ names. The study is in the journal Scientific Reports.

The researchers also had people unfamiliar to the cats speak the names. Although the felines’ responses were less prominent than when their owners called them, they still appeared to recognize the words when spoken by strangers. But does that mean the cats know they are being called by name?

“There is no evidence that cats have the ability to recognize themselves, like us. So the recognition about their names is different from ours.” But Saito says she thinks we might be able to teach cats to recognize other words in addition to their names. “Our colleagues are investigating whether cats recognize other cohabiting cats’ names.” Could this knowledge mean that humans could eventually train cats to respond to voice commands, the way dogs do? Purr-haps.

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