• You are here:
  • Home »
  • Cat »

Do Cats Know Their Names? (How to Teach Cats Recognize Their Names)


In my family and close circle of friends, the cats have come and gone by a variety of names.  Take for example Chloe, Clover, Levi, Felix, Azreal, Fluffy, Stripes, Tigger, Snoeker, Missy, Sylvester, etc. You call it and we have named them.

But now I wonder - do cats know their names?  Or do they even care for that matter?

Do Cats Know Their Names? - Pouring Some Science Into The Mix

As always we will get the very scientific people who will argue that cats cannot understand words. They can only understand sounds and tone of voice. 


Scientists suppose that cats can only understand sounds and tone of voice.

This might be true.  But then you can still incorporate the above into your training plan.  With positive affirmations our tone of voice is usually calm and pleasant, which the cats will then associate with and react to. 

Even if his name does not sound to him in the same way you call it, he might then continue to react to the “similar” sound he hears every time.

Calling A Stubborn Cat By Its Name

Cats have completely different personalities than dogs.  A dog will come running if you call, even if you reprimanded him that very same morning.  Cats on the other hand, are way more strong willed and independent.

When teaching your cat her name, it can happen that she decides not to always follow class rules and ignore you.  Don’t loose hope.  Even the slightest movement of her ear can indicate that she has indeed heard her name, acknowledges it, but just decides to ignore you from there. 

Renaming The Named? - Do Cats Know Their Names?


Cats are highly intelligent and adapt quickly

We have one foster cat in our house.  We call her by the same name as her owner.  But, it has happened many a years back that we found a kitty abandoned and rescued her. This was in the days pre-microchips, so we had no clue as to what her real name was and therefore chose a new name. 

Cats are highly intelligent and adapt quickly.  Naming and renaming at any age and size should not be a problem, just make sure it is a pleasant experience.

How Can I Teach My Cat to Know Her Name?

We have all adopted a little fluff ball, or maybe a big fluff ball at some point or another.  Usually when you look at your cat’s appearance and personality traits, you tend to name your cat accordingly.

That is the easy part.  Now how do you then teach the cat to know their name?

Some cats learn quicker than others or care to learn quicker than others.  Cat behaviorists have suggested teaching your cat her name with positive reinforcement, never negative.


Teach your cat her name with positive reinforcement, never negative.

Cats store experiences and associated smells or sounds in their brains.  When a similar sound or smell is felt, they retrieve the stored experience and its related association, either then negative or positive. 

If you reprimand your cat and at the same time call his name, you create a negative connotation.  Your cat will then be hesitant to react to her name, due to the fact that she had a bad or negative experience with it.

Happy Treat, Happy Name

A good way to start is to offer treats.  In the beginning, keep a treat close by and call your cat’s name.  As soon as she comes to you, give her the treat and pet her affectionately.  Now she will associate the treat with her name. 

This can be done for a while, extending the distance form where she is to the treat as you go along.  At a later stage you can skip the treat and just pet her when she acknowledges your call. 


As warm and loving creatures by nature, we tend to want to name things that we love.  This makes the item more personal and valuable to us.  This is what we do with cats. 

It will only strengthen our bond with them and show them that they are regarded as part of our family.  Even if they can really understand their names or even just the sound it makes, no matter.  Keep on doing it!

I hope this article had some valuable insights for you.  Please feel free to leave some comments or questions which I can respond to.

About the Author Cindy Grant

A pet lover from Boston, USA who is extremely passionate about all cute little pets, especially puppies, kittens and birds. I created NolongerWild as a community where all pet lovers around the world can meet and share their passion with each other.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: