French scientists might have figured out the best way to catcall a cat
In good news for frustrated cat lovers, researchers have found that cats are more likely to approach human strangers when vocal and visual cues were used to get their attention.
So if you’ve tried to get a cat’s attention, only to be ignored, you might want to try a different method.
Scientists from the University of Rennes in France studied video clips of 12 cats living in cat cafes and observed their behaviour in response to different communication patterns.
As part of the study, the person communicating with the cats used either their voice, gestures, or both at the same time or did not communicate at all.
The results showed that cats were significantly more responsive to visual gestures along with sounds than just calling to them.
Additionally, the cats appeared to wag their tails more when the human ignored them completely. While this is an indication of happiness in dogs, it’s usually the opposite for cats where it can be an indicator of stress or discomfort.
Dr Isabelle Merlet, lead author of the study, said that the findings could have practical applications for cat owners.
‘Understanding the way our closest non-human companions perceive and react to their human environment is an important topic. The results of this study may serve as a basis for practical recommendations to navigate the codes of human-cat interactions,’ she said.
Since owners usually adopt a ‘cat talk voice’ with their pets, researchers figured that cafe cats would respond better to vocalizations. Now, they believe that this might be different for cats interacting with human strangers.
‘It shows that it’s not the same thing. It’s not the same for a cat to communicate with their owner as it is to communicate with an unfamiliar human,’ she said.
So, what’s the best way to attract a cat you encounter? According to the study, you should be using both verbal cues and body language, such as calling their name and holding out your hand for them to sniff.
The researchers noted that the study had some limitations, including the small sample size and the fact that the cats were living in a cat cafe rather than in a home environment.
However, they said that the study provides a foundation for further research into cat communication and behaviour.
The study adds to a growing body of research on the relationship between cats and humans. While dogs are often thought to be more attuned to human emotions and behaviour, the current study suggests that cats may also have an understanding of human communication.
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