Your Cat May Know Where You Are Even When It Can’t See You

New research suggests that your cat is likely using sounds to keep track of where you are, even when you’re out of sight. Domestic cats create “mental maps” that track where their owners are located, based on the direction of certain sounds. A team of researchers at Kyoto University in Japan conducted a series of experiments to find out if cats actively track their owners using cues like sound. They played recordings of human voices calling a cat’s name from different locations, in what they called “teleportation-like scenarios.” For example, a nearby speaker would announce “Fluffy!”, suggesting to the kitty that the owner was close, and then a speaker in a different room would call the same name again. The felines appeared surprised by the voice coming from an unexpected location, suggesting that domesticated cats spatially map their human companions using audio cues, even when they’re in the next room. Cats aren’t the only ones who can keep track of something that’s out of sight. Children normally begin to develop that skill at around eight months. In the end, the study squashed a popular myth as well. It has generally been believed that cats aren’t as interested in their owners as dogs are, but the study shows that they actually are.