Faced with the passivity of a cat, few have resisted calling their attention using the popular onomatopoeia pspspsps. Contrary to what we believe, this is not the best way to seduce the feline, according to a study by researchers from the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology and Cognition of the University of Nanterre (Paris), who found a faster interaction when a communication was used visual and bimodal (visual and vocal).
Taken together, the authors believe the results suggest that cats "show a marked preference for visual and bimodal cues addressed by unfamiliar humans compared to vocal cues alone."
"Our findings offer additional evidence of the emergence of human-compatible sociocognitive abilities in cats that favor their adaptation to a human-driven niche," they point out in the conclusions of their study, published in the journal Animals.
The authors started from the following premise: in all species, communication implies that a sender sends signals to a receiver, through one or more channels. However, the answer is not the same in all cases and can vary according to the perceived emotion. And little was known about the specific patterns and channels that govern communication between cats and humans.
"This study addresses whether, in an extra-specific interaction, cats are sensitive to the communication channel used by their human interlocutor", explain the French researchers. To do this, by encoding video clips of 12 cats living in cat cafeterias, they examined three types of interactions: vocal, visual, and bimodal (visual and vocal).
Their analysis found that cats interacted significantly faster in response to visual and bimodal communication compared to vocal communication.
They also detected it by their tail wagging: the cats wagged their tails significantly more when the experimenter was not communicating, compared to visual and bimodal communication.
In addition, the authors found that communication modality had a significant effect on the time it took cats to approach the human: “Cats interacted significantly faster with visual and bimodal communication compared to the 'no communication' pattern, as well as with vocal communication.
Taken together, they say their results suggest that cats "show a marked preference for visual and bimodal cues addressed by unfamiliar humans compared to vocal cues alone."