If you've ever suspected that your feline friend isn't that interested in you, you were right. There's even a study to prove it.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo found that although pet cats are capable of recognizing their owner's voice, the felines usually choose to ignore their calls.
Scientists observed 20 domesticated cats in their homes for eight months to monitor how the animals recognized and responded to different voices — both strangers' voices and the cats' owners — calling out the cats' names.
The study found that 50 percent to 70 percent of the cats turned their heads at the sound and 30 percent moved their ears — typical reactions to hearing any sound.
Just 10 percent of the felines responded to being called by meowing or moving their tails.
In other words, your cat hears you when you call — he just doesn't care enough to acknowledge it.
Response rates were similar regardless of whether the cats were called by strangers or their owner.
However, the felines did have a "more intense" response to their owner's voice, indicating that the animals do have a special relationship with the people they know.
The study, published in Animal Cognition journal, suggests that cats' unresponsive behavior could be rooted in the animal’s evolution.
Modern housecats' common ancestor was Felis silvestris, a wildcat species that came into contact with humans 9,000 years ago. As people began farming the land, the cats moved in to prey on rodents attracted to crops.
As the study's authors write, cats essentially "domesticated themselves."
"Historically speaking, cats, unlike dogs, have not been domesticated to obey humans' orders. Rather, they seem to take the initiative in human–cat interaction," the paper reads.
While dogs were bred over thousands of years to respond to commands, the authors say that cats never needed to learn to obey human orders.
The study further notes that although "dogs are perceived by their owners as being more affectionate than cats, dog owners and cat owners do not differ significantly in their reported attachment level to their pets."
The authors humorously conclude their paper by noting that they’re not sure why cat lovers adore their indifferent felines so much.
"The behavioral aspect of cats that cause their owners to become attached to them are still undetermined," they write.
Related on MNN & TreeHugger:
- Why do cats purr?
- 12 of the most endangered feline species (On TreeHugger)
- Why do cats love boxes so much?
- Do cats always land on their feet?