The good people at have just highlighted an important breakthrough in the field of cat science. According to a study published this year in Developmental Psychobiology, kittens can distinguish the vocalizations of their mother from those of any other feline.
The adorable research took 29 kittens at least four weeks of age with fully developed aural capabilities and presented them with recordings of meows and chirps from both their birth mother and from cats they were unfamiliar with. (We’d like to think they wore tiny headphones, but that probably didn’t happen.) The kittens had a substantially stronger response to playbacks of their mother’s "greeting chirps" and "meows," being more attentive to the speaker emitting the noise and approaching it more quickly than when it was broadcasting the sounds of strangers. They also tended to lurk around the speaker longer.
The study authors argue that learning a mother’s voice is crucial to survival across a variety of species. Cats and other animals can chatter away when they can hear their parent is approaching, but it’s important to remain quiet in case a predator is looming.
And while cats will perk up at the sound of their mom's cooing, they're still likely to ignore you entirely.
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