Sunday, August 25, 2019

Cats know their names

This comes as no surprise to me so why is this pronouncement all over the news? Are humans truly unaware of this simple fact? Of course, we cats know our names, but as the many articles note, we don’t always respond when called.  Duh!  Why should we come running just because you say our names? Tell me, do two-legged children always come when called?

It cracks me up that someone took time to research this topic and publish the findings in the journal “Nature.”  Was it necessary to study 78 cats to discover that we respond to people calling our names—when we want to, that is?  The researchers studied cats in homes with only one cat, multi-cat homes, and cat cafes, and they found we’re able to distinguish our names from those of other cats or dogs and from similar-sounding words.

As do I, the cats in this study responded to their names by  “moving their heads, wiggling their ears and meowing.” I, of course, do more than that.  On occasion, I come when called or I leap into a lap or onto the bed to snuggle with Mum or Dad,  but again, only if I feel so inclined.

For example, when my pet parents return home after a trip, I understand them when they call my name over and over, but I’m certainly not going to run to them.  My taking my time to appear delivers the unspoken message that I’m miffed.

My Dad often adds a “G” to the end of my name and places the accent on the second syllable—Pu-DING. No matter, I recognize my name. Other times, my pet parents use different intonations when they speak to me. When I’m eying the rotisserie chicken on the kitchen counter, I can tell by the way Mum says Puddin’ that she means, “Don’t you dare.” The result, of course, is that I wait until she walks out of the kitchen before I leap. I’m no dummy.

Rumor has it that there’s a move afoot to teach cats new words.  Seriously?  I think I can safely speak for all cats when I say we do not care to be trained. We’ll learn whatever words we choose.  As a writer, I know plenty of words, and I’m self-taught.

If you have a cat, you already know that we’re also alert to human moods—no words needed.  That’s why I spent lots of time in bed with Mum when she had surgery this year.  She needed me to help her feel better. Please note, all of these cat behaviors are voluntary.

I also have the amazing ability to note when Mum moves toward the stairs.  I watch from Dad’s lap to see whether she walks past the stairs or up them. If she passes by the stairs, I stay put. If she starts up the stairs, I leap down and dash ahead of her into her office—where kitty treats are dispensed. Again, no words required.

Sometimes, I wait at the foot of the stairs to see whether she turns toward her office or her bedroom.  I don’t follow her into the bedroom unless it’s bedtime when I watch her wash her face and get ready for bed. Then I choose a sleep spot for the evening. I may wander from chair to bed to desk during the night, but I stay close by. Enough said.  No research is required to establish that I know my name and my place.

Princess Puddin’ Penn resides in Georgia with her dad, her mom Kathy Manos Penn, and her canine brother Lord Banjo. Please send comments, compliments, and questions to She appears in “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch,” a book that can be found on Amazon, at Books Unlimited in Franklin, and at Highlands Mountain Paws.

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Lord Banjo, Puddin', and I take turns writing these blogs, and we'd love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.