Cats have a surprising superpower: the ability to track their owner’s location

Research has previously proven that cats possess impressive aptitudes, such as learning names. Now a recent cat study has discovered that felines can do much more.

According to Japanese experts, cats can locate their owners on a mental map.

A recent study undertaken by Saho Takagi, a doctorate student at the University of Tokyo, and published in the journal PLOS One, reveals an unknown skill of domestic cats. They construct cognitive maps on which they can always locate their master based on sounds.

Saho Takagi explains that he has long been fascinated with cats’ hearing and tendency to point their ears in various directions. She told CNN in an interview:

“I saw a cat with only one of its ears tilted back, listening to the sound behind it, and felt that cats must be thinking about many things from the sound”

From there, the scientist questioned whether the felines could map their owner’s position spatially from sounds

The cat study experiments

Saho Takagi’s team conducted many basic experiments to test her hypothesis. For example, in a scenario dubbed “teleportation,” scientists played recordings of a cat owner’s voice from opposing directions as if the caller had relocated instantly from one location to another.

The felines’ apparent surprise demonstrated that they could detect human presence by sound even in another room.

To sum it up, these results demonstrate that cats have a mental image of their owner even when he is not visible, and they map his location based on his voice, indicating socio-spatial cognition.

Saho Takagi’s findings contradict a commonly held belief about cats’ indifference. As the expert points out:

“It is generally believed that cats are not as interested in their owners as dogs are, but it turns out that they were mentally representing the invisible presence of their owners,”

Furthermore, Ingrid Johnson, a trained cat behavior specialist, assured scientific reviews that kitties could become devoted to their people.

The bond becomes even stronger with older cats since studies prove that some older cats become distressed when they are unable to see or hear their owners.

Complex creatures

The ability to form a mental map is a critical hallmark of animal intelligence and a foundation for the evolution of complex thinking, according to the experts, who will continue their work to better grasp the secrets of our little kittens’ brains.

Cats are not the only animals with this ability. Other species such as vervet monkeys and meerkats have also demonstrated this capacity.

According to the study, generating mental representations based on sound and other cues suggests complex thinking in those species.

This capacity is especially crucial for animals seeking prey in low light conditions.

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