Do cats know their names? If you ask the same question of dogs the answer would be yes because dogs come to the call of their name. In principle, the same goes for cats in my personal experience. A cat might not come but he will normally perk up. However, it depends on the relationship between cat and person and the circumstances.
This does not mean that cats recognise their name in a meaningful way although I am not discounting that remote possibility.
It is that domestic cats recognise the sound of their name as spoken by their human guardian. This is my assessment. If you have a different one please tell me.
I am sure that millions of cat owners would attest to the fact that when they call their cat he/she comes running probably because there is something nice on offer. But they do recognise the sound of their name.
When I call my cat he looks up. He is very aware of his name. The same response has occurred with other cats I have lived with over the years.
Many years ago, I can remember going into a boarding cattery to pick up my female cat. I had not seen her for two weeks. I called her name and she looked up and her tailed wagged excitedly. The cattery owner remarked: “she recognises her name.”. True she did.
However, I stress that it is more a recognition of the sound of their name that sticks in their mind. There is a subtle difference between the sound of a name and name itself.
I have just read the results of a Japanese study on this. When hearing their names, cats “displayed orienting behaviour”. This means they turned their head towards the source of the sound. The cat’s responded better to their owners compared to strangers. The cats did not move towards the person. For me this clearly indicates a recognition of the sound of their name and supports my thoughts.
Comment: the cats would have moved if there was a good reason to move! For example food. Cats are less domesticated than dogs. This results in their less responsive behavior. Also cats take their time to move. It can be several minutes before they move.
I am open to alternative viewpoints.