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Cats Do Control Humans, Study Finds
Posted: 14 July 2009 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]
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If you’ve ever wondered who’s in control, you or your cat, a new study points to the obvious. It’s your cat.

Household cats exercise this control with a certain type of urgent-sounding, high-pitched meow, according to the findings.

This meow is actually a purr mixed with a high-pitched cry. While people usually think of cat purring as a sign of happiness, some cats make this purr-cry sound when they want to be fed. The study showed that humans find these mixed calls annoying and difficult to ignore.

“The embedding of a cry within a call that we normally associate with contentment is quite a subtle means of eliciting a response,” said Karen McComb of the University of Sussex. “Solicitation purring is probably more acceptable to humans than overt meowing, which is likely to get cats ejected from the bedroom.”

They know us

Previous research has shown similarities between cat cries and human infant cries.

McComb suggests that the purr-cry may subtly take advantage of humans’ sensitivity to cries they associate with nurturing offspring. Also, including the cry within the purr could make the sound “less harmonic and thus more difficult to habituate to,” she said.

McComb got the idea for the study from her experience with her own cat, who would consistently wake her up in the mornings with a very insistent purr. After speaking with other cat owners, she learned that some of their cats also made the same type of call. As a scientist who studies vocal communication in mammals, she decided to investigate the manipulative meow.

Tough to test

Setting up the experiments wasn’t easy. While the felines used purr-cries around their familiar owners, they were not eager to make the same cries in front of strangers. So McComb and her team trained cat owners to record their pets’ cries

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Posted: 14 July 2009 09:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hmm.  Doesn’t really match any of the cats I’ve known, other than my first one.  But then, all of the sounds that she made were very disharmonic.

While people usually think of cat purring as a sign of happiness, some cats make this purr-cry sound when they want to be fed.

Cats also purr sometimes when they’re scared.

EDIT:

Ah, the BBC has an article on the subject, too.  With a video, on which you can hear the sound they’re referring to.

The two cats I currently live with make that sound. . .but not when they want food.  The older one makes it when she’s just really happy, settling down to knead on her favourite blanket or suchlike.  The younger one makes that sound when she sees I’m about to start petting her.

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Posted: 15 July 2009 08:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I want to get just a small (5%) portion of the money that was wasted on this lame-ass study. mad  rolleyes

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Posted: 15 July 2009 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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You’ll have to talk to the cats about that, Dave.

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Posted: 16 July 2009 04:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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DavePrime - 16 July 2009 12:45 AM

I want to get just a small (5%) portion of the money that was wasted on this lame-ass study. mad  rolleyes

duh

Even a IG-Noble Prize doesn

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