Cats and Dogs
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What are the 16 cat words?

Your cat has you trained to get out of bed

Q. Every morning, my cat wakes me around 6 a.m. He’s like an alarm clock! Even on the weekends when I can (and want) to sleep in, he jumps on my bed, climbs on my chest, and meows in my face. You might think that he is doing this for food, so let me explain right now, that is not the case. He only eats dry food and it is in a self-feeder. He can get food any time he wants. He seriously just wants me to get up and pet him and start our day. Sometimes I pick him up and put him out of the bedroom and close the door—but then he stays right by the door meowing and scratching. He won’t give up until I can’t take it anymore and let him back in. But then if I try and get back into bed, he’ll start meowing in my face again so ultimately I give up and get up. Is there any way I can get him to let me sleep? This has been going on for three years!

A. I’ll bet a lot of cat owners are reading this and laughing because they are very familiar with what you are talking about. I use the word “cat owner” loosely because in reality, anyone who lives with a feline family member knows that cats are ultimately in charge of everything, and would no doubt be highly offended at the mere idea of being “owned” by humans.

Clearly, your cat has trained you very well. For three years, he has commanded your attention at the crack of dawn simply with a meow. That’s quite impressive. Well, it’s time for some tough love and it’s going to require some willpower and consistency on your part.

Your first tool is knowledge. Cats need to sleep a minimum of 16 hours a day. With that in mind, plan on waking up your kitty when you see him snoozing in the middle of the day—especially on weekends. Don’t be mean about it. Just demand his attention in the same way he demands your attention! Pet him. Talk to him. Brush his coat. Trim his nails. Get some cat toys and encourage him to play. Interrupt his naps whenever you see him dozing. By doing this on a regular basis, you will be able to change his sleep cycle so that he sleeps at night and well into the morning, or at least until you want to wake up.

This isn’t as easy to do on weekdays when you must go to work. But you can keep him active when you return home—just make sure he doesn’t steal any shuteye before you decide it’s bedtime.

Your next tool is willpower. If your cat wakes you up and you shut him out of your room, you have to let him meow and rattle your door until he gives up. By giving in, you are sending the message that meowing and banging on your door will result in you getting out of bed. Your kitty needs to experience no success in this endeavor. It may take a number of days to accomplish this goal; but remember, you have given him three years worth of positive reinforcement for this undesirable behavior. So be patient and consistent and whatever you do, don’t give in. You may want to purchase some soft, comfy earplugs to help you through this period of training.

Eventually, your cat will learn that if he meows and wakes you up in the morning, he is going to get evicted; but if he remains curled up with you in bed, he’ll get to stay with you. Really, this all boils down to the fact that he loves you. He doesn’t understand your sleeping habits and just wants to start his day with you. If you follow this plan, you’ll be able to synchronize your sleeping patterns, he’ll be a happy kitty, and you’ll be a rested human. Good luck!

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Do Cats Know Their Own Names?

Bartley Harrison

Dr. Bartley Harrison is a veterinarian with more than 15 years of professional veterinary experience treating dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, birds, and small mammals, with a specific focus on Emergency Medicine. Dr. Harrison is part of The Spruce Pets’ veterinary review board.

Back and white cat looking up

Have you ever wondered if cats know their names? Unlike dogs, cats are not known for coming when called. But if your cat doesn’t move a whisker when you call its name, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t know its name.

According to a study published in 2019 in the journal Scientific Reports, cats do, in fact, recognize their own names. The lead author of the study is a behavioral scientist named Atsuko Saito from Sophia University in Tokyo, whose prior research demonstrated that cats can recognize their owners’ voices.

For the name recognition study, researchers observed cats living in ordinary households, as well as cats living in cat cafes. Although the cafe cats could distinguish their own names from general nouns, they were not able to distinguish their own names from the names of other cats living in the cafe. The house cats, on the other hand, were able to discriminate their own names from general nouns and from the names of other cats living in the home. This led the researchers to conclude that cats can differentiate the content of human language based on phonemic differences.

Why Is My Cat Ignoring Me?

If we know that cats are capable of recognizing their names, why don’t they come running when we call their names? It’s simply a case of a cat being a cat. Humans tend to compare cats and dogs, but we really shouldn’t expect the same types of behaviors from these two very different species. Our feline friends are aloof and more independent than dogs and don’t always see the need to respond when you say their name.

Some cats do come running when you call their name. If you have a cat like this, congratulations! Cats that readily engage with you and respond to your vocal utterances are lots of fun to live with. Such cats are often described as “dog-like” due to their extra devotion to their people.

Be Patient If You Change Your Cat’s Name

There are some instances where a cat actually might not know its name, for instance, if you have a kitten who has been given its first-ever name, or if you bring home a newly adopted adult cat and choose a brand-new name. Adopted adult cats might even been on their third or fourth name, depending on the circumstances, so it’s understandable if they don’t respond to their newest name right away.

If your cat doesn’t react when you say its name, it’s possible that it doesn’t know its name yet. The good news is that cats can easily learn their new names. Although your cat would probably learn its new name with enough time, there are ways to speed up the name learning process a bit.

How to Teach Your Cat Its Name

You might be surprised to learn that you can train cats to recognize their name. You can teach your cat its name (or refresh its memory) the same way you can teach any new behavior. Follow these easy steps to teach your cat its name.

First, try not using your cat’s name too much. Saying your cat’s name over and over can lead your cat to tune it out like background noise. Especially when you are trying to teach your cat a new name, stick to using it during training sessions. Later, you can say the name more freely; your cat should now recognize it.

Next, create a positive association with your cat’s name by pairing the name with a tasty treat. Use something your cat really likes, such as tiny bits of plain chicken or a favorite treat broken up into small pieces.


Keep the treats very tiny (pea-sized or smaller), so you can reward your cat many times in a training session without making it too full or upsetting the balance of its diet.

Say your cat’s name, then immediately give it a treat. Say your cat’s name again, and give it another treat. Do this about 10 times within a few minutes time, then take a break. As the training sessions progress, be sure to mix your cat’s name in with other words and talk as you usually would, but only reward with a treat when its name is said. This way, your cat will associate the treat with its name, rather than the sound of your voice alone. Practice the name game every day, about two to three times a day (morning, noon and night is good), for as long as it takes for your cat to recognized its name.

To test to see if your cat knows its name, say her name without holding a treat and see how it reacts. If it turns toward you (or comes running!), you have achieved success.

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  1. Hasegawa, Toshikazu, et al. Domestic Cats (Felis catus) discriminate their names from other words. Scientific Reports, vol. 1, no. 9, April 2019. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-40616-4
  2. Shinozuka, Saito A., et. al. Vocal recognition of owners by domestic cats (Felis catus). Anim Cogn, pp. 685–690 (2013), vol. 16, 2013. doi:10.1007/s10071-013-0620-4
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