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Cats Pay Attention to Owners' Voices, Study Says

Though many who are around cats likely doubt that the felines are as attentive to their owners as dogs, a new study has proven that they may be.

Researchers in Japan found that cats can distinguish their owners' voices from a strangers voice, indicating that they do pay attention when their owners are speaking to them.

The study focused on cats in their home environment. They let the cats listen to recordings of strangers as well as their owners' voices, and the cats could not see who was speaking to them. 

They found that when the cats heard their owners' voices, they moved their heads or ears towards the sound. They also had dilated pupils when the voice speaking to them was familiar. This indicated the cats were excited and alert.

Co-author of the study Atsuko Saito said the reason cats and dogs are so different is because dogs have been bred to follow human commands, while cats have not. 

Saito also said cats have evolved to hide their emotions to survive and hide their illnesses. This is because "in the wild, no one can rescue them and predators pay attention to such weak individuals."

While they still hold onto some of their primitive tendencies, domesticated cats have evolved to have the ability to communicate with humans. 

The study will be published in the July issue of Animal Cognition. This study comes weeks after an expert in animal behavior said animals could one day be able to talk to us through phone-sized devices.

Con Slobodchikoff, a professor at Northern Arizona University, said he is developing a technology that interprets the calls of the prairie dog. He said the same type of technology could also be used to translate other types of animals' calls.

"So the dog says, 'Bark!' and the device analyzes it and says, 'I want to eat chicken tonight.' Or the cat can say 'meow!' and it can say, 'You haven't cleaned my letterbox recently,'" he explained. 

Sources: Daily Mail, NBC


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