Meowing dogs: can dogs recognize cats in a cross-modal violation of expectancy task (Canis familiaris)?

Miina LõokeCécile Guérineau, Anna Broseghini, Lieta MarinelliPaolo Mongillo (2023) Animal Cognition


Dogs can recognize conspecifics in cross-modal audio–video presentations. In this paper, we aimed at exploring if such capability extends to the recognition of cats, and whether it is influenced by exposure to these animals. To reach our aim, we enrolled 64 pet dogs. Half of the dogs were currently living with cats, while the rest had never been living with cats, nor were at the time of the experiment. All dogs underwent a cross-modal violation of expectancy experiment, where they were presented with either a cat or a dog vocalization, followed by a video of either species on a blank background. The result revealed that dogs did not exhibit a surprise reaction towards the incoherent stimuli of a cat vocalization and a dog video or vice-versa, implying that they had not recognized the stimuli portraying cats. The pattern of results did not differ between dogs living or not with cats, implying that exposure to a limited number of cats, however, prolonged, is not sufficient to grant dogs with the ability to recognize them on audio–video presentations. We propose that the lack of recognition could be due to the small number of individual cats the dogs are regularly exposed to, or to the possible lack of early exposure to cats during the socialization phase.

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