Cats track their owners’ movements, research finds

Research may be able to answer your question if your cat is tracking you around the house. Cats are known to surprise owners if they end up in places they didn't expect.
This finding supports the notion that cats can retain a mental representation (even if they don't see) of their owners. It is a critical bridge to higher cognitive processes like forward planning and imagination.

Cats are known for being difficult to understand. Previous research suggests that cats can search for food in any place they see it disappearing. They also expect to see their owners face if they hear their voice. However, it is not clear how this ability could be translated into reality. Dr Saho Takagi, a Japanese researcher, said, "It is also said that cats don't care as much about their owners as dogs, but we had doubts about it."

Takagi and his colleagues recorded the following: 50 domestic cats were kept in a single room and heard their owners calling their names repeatedly. This was followed by either a stranger's or their own voice coming through the speaker.

These recordings were recorded by eight blinded human observers who rated the cats' surprise levels based on their head and ear movements. The cats appeared confused only when their owners suddenly entered the room, implying they had somehow teleported there.

Takagi's research was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Takagi said that "this study shows cats can mentally map out their location based upon their owner’s voice." "It suggests that cats can see the invisible in their minds," said Takagi. It is possible that cats may have a deeper mind than we think.

It's not surprising, however, that cats have this ability. Roger Tabor, a BBC TV presenter, biologist and author, said, "That awareness is movement - tracking what they cannot see- is crucial to a cat’s survival."

A lot of what a cat must interpret in its territory is its awareness of other cats. This is important for hunting. How could a cat catch a field mouse moving beneath the grass? As a source for food and security, a cat's owner is vital in their lives.

Anita Kelsey is a UK feline behaviorist and author of Let's Talk About Cats. She said that cats have a close relationship to us and feel safe and secure in our company. Therefore, our human voice should be part of this bond. If I'm dealing with cats with separation anxiety, I don't advocate the owner speaking in their home. This can lead to anxiety for the cat, who may hear the voice but not know where it is.

Curiously, cats didn't respond the same way when owners' voices were replaced with electronic or cat meows. This could be because adult cats don't use voice to communicate with each other. Many may rely on scent or other cues instead.

Takagi stated that the'meow' used in this study was a voice signal only that is emitted by humans. "Cats might not be able identify individuals from the meow' of others."