Photo of a cat crouching on the ground.

Your pet cat might be keeping tabs on your location

Image: ©Нина Дроздова

Cats are quiet and sneaky. When they’re out of sight, it’s almost impossible to keep tabs on them. But what about the other way around – does your cat know where you are, even when you’re out of sight?

To test cats’ skills, Japanese scientists set up a room. Secretly, they hid a speaker outside the door to the room. A second speaker was placed inside the room, close to a second door or window. Then, they borrowed a bunch of house cats and cats from cat cafes. One by one, the cats were placed into the room for testing.

Over several experiments, the scientists played sounds of the cats’ owners, human strangers, meowing cats and other sounds. Sometimes they would play the sounds through the same speaker, and sometimes they would alternate.

In a lot of the tests, the cats didn’t react much at all. But there was one test that caused a stir. When the owner’s voice came from one location, and soon after from the other location, the cats were most surprised!

So what does this all mean? This experiment is good evidence that cats keep track of their owners. When their owner’s voice moves quickly from one place to another, it’s like they teleported across the room!

It takes a lot of smarts to keep track of something you can’t see. Human babies can’t do it, which is why they are surprised when you play peek-a-boo. So maybe cats are cleverer than we think!

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