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Cat Names Are the Most Effective When Said in Baby Talk, According to Science

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Ginger CatJoseph Guthrie/Getty Images

Here, kitty, kitty. A veterinarian from Vancouver, British Columbia, claims that names said in baby talk are most effective for cats after conducting a trial with a feline to test the technique.

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Dr. Uri Burstyn believes cats pay more attention when their names end in a high frequency. He says that since felines have ears that register high-pitched noises — such as the sounds birds and mice make — they are more likely to notice if their names follow that pattern.

Monikers that end in “e” sounds, for instance, will catch cats’ attention better than consonants, according to Burstyn. A cat called Whiskers, then, is less likely to react upon hearing its name than one dubbed Missy.

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This also works for nicknames, which the doctor explains is why cats tend to react when humans use these monikers, as they are often said while speaking in baby talk or a high-pitched voice.

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Burstyn demonstrated his findings with a cat named Lancelot in a YouTube video posted in August. “A study was done several years ago to show that cats respond to their name much better if the name terminates in a high-pitched sound,” the vet said in the clip. “So, for example, Lancelot ends on a low sound. He’s much less likely to respond [to] that than if we call him Lancey. Because Lancey, Lancey is a high-pitched sound.”

As if on cue, when the feline heard that noise, he immediately turned his head in the doctor’s direction.

Burstyn added of the high-pitched call: “He’s gonna hear it much more clearly and respond to it much more regularly than a low-pitched sound like Lancelot. And this is true of any cat name, and I think a lot of cat owners do this instinctively.”

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