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How Do Cats Learn Their Name?

Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

In the previous article we found out the fact that cats have the ability to recognize their name when called and to respond – or not – to the call. But how do cats learn their name? How can you teach your little friend to react to his or her name?

While it’s relatively easy to teach dogs to react and do tricks, with cats it’s a whole new ballgame. Cats are a lot more independent than dogs. Their lives revolve around solitude more often than not, as opposed to dogs who prefer packs – whether that means other dogs or human companions.

How Do Cats Learn Their Name

Experts in feline behavior warn that cats may not behave as we expect them to, even after intensive training, as cats are known to be quite free-willed and uncooperative in experimental context, thus making your job a little harder.

The good news is that any response you don’t get from your feline friend doesn’t mean she doesn’t get or learn the trick, but that she doesn’t see you as her master to tell her what to do and when.

Taking that into account, let’s move further and find out the ways in which cats can be taught to respond to their name being called.

Recall Cues

When calling your little friend by his name, you’ll sure want – as most social human beings out there – him to pay attention to you or come over and show you some love and affection. Right? Sure I’m right.

In order to do that you must use what is called a ‘recall cue’ – a simple word that will serve as a command to your cat. Something like ‘come’ or ‘here’ should do just fine.

Sometimes, people might try non-verbal recall cues as well, but remember that those have power only if your little furry friend sees you.


Rewards can come in many forms, but for a cat that means almost all the time food. There’s a good reason to use food because cats have a very strong sense of smell which will make them react by connecting the dots between the recall cue and their sense of smell that tells them to go and investigate. Plus, they almost never refuse a good treat.

If somehow your cat isn’t motivated by food, you can replace that by his favorite toy or that game you always play together.

In order for the training to be effective, make sure your little friend is in the mood for socializing, since they might just need time alone rather than eating, playing or hunting.

Depending on the personality of your cat, the main trick is to take the right approach. If your cat is very social – up the game, but if she’s shy and not in the mood – go for baby steps.

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