Does my Cat Know His Name?


So – do you think your cat knows her name? There are several cat parents who wonder if their cats really do understand human cat walking to ownerlanguages, and if their cats really understand when they call them by name, or whether the cats are merely coming when they hear their people’s voice?

Scientific Studies

There are no scientific studies to verify whether a cat actually knows his name, and can distinguish the sounds humans make, but there are millions of humans living with cats who can anecdotally verify it. Cats absolutely know the sound of their names as their human parents pronounce it, and even as other humans pronounce it.

Cats are Stubbornly Independent

Cats are notorious for their independence and their refusal to acquiesce to human demands or even requests. The reason that non-cat people believe that cats do not know their names is because they believe that cats are not trainable. Both of these beliefs are false. Cats do know their names and cats are highly intelligent and eminently trainable. The problem lies in their stubborn independence, rather than an inability to learn.

Why Your Cat Should Come When Called

It is actually important to train you cat to know her name, and to come when called, just as your dogs might. If there is a natural disaster, or if your cat gets away from you in an area with busy streets, having a solid recall command might save your cat’s life. There are hundreds, if not thousand,s of cat parents out there with anecdotal stories about just that – how their cat’s life was saved because she responded to the parent’s call, and could be confined or rescued in a tornado, blizzard, hurricane, flood, or any other natural disaster. There are also stories of cats being saved from fire and man-made disasters in the same way.

Training Your Cat to Know His Name

How do you train you cat to come when you call his name? In fact, it is the same way you would train a dog. Start by using her name when you are just sitting with your kitten and petting her. Or use her name when you are first beginning to play with her. Then begin to use her name when you give her food and water. This is a critical step, as it ties their name with a positive experience (food). Repeat this multiple times. Now start to call your cat when you are a not right next to her. Reward her with treats as soon as she comes to you, or responds in any way to her name. She might begin by just turning and looking at you when you call her name, and not actually come to you. They are cats after all. Sooner or later, your use of treats and rewards will bring your cat running whenever anyone calls his name.

Tip: When adopting a cat, keep her given name so she won’t get confused with a new name.  

Photo: Courtesy of Tomi Tapio via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Nicky LaMarco has been a freelance writer since 2001. Nicky is an experienced ghostwriter and copywriter. She also writes for a variety of magazines. Nicky lives in Maine with her husband, two daughters, and two cats. Learn more about her at