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Cats Can Talk To Their Owners

 

Updated : Jul 14, 2009

Domestic cats have developed subtle ways of psyching out their owners to get what they want, a new study has shown.

The cats favourite ploy when hungry is to throw an urgent meow-like call into a flurry of contented purrs. The resulting mixed signal taps into a natural instinct for nurturing offspring and is difficult to ignore, according to psychologists.

“The embedding of a cry within a call that we normally associate with contentment is quite a subtle means of eliciting a response,” said study leader Dr Karen McComb, from 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,” she added.

Dr McComb was inspired to carry out the research by her own cat, who consistently wakes her up in the morning with a very insistent purr.

In the study, owners were asked to record their cats’ cries, which were then used in a series of playback experiments.

Dr McComb’s team found that humans judged purrs recorded when cats wanted food to be more urgent and less pleasant than in other situations.

This was true even for people who had never owned a cat themselves.

“We found that the crucial factor determining the urgency and pleasantness ratings that purrs received was an unusual highfrequency element – reminiscent of a cry or meow – embedded within the naturally low-pitched purr,” said Dr McComb whose research is published in the journal ‘Current Biology’.

The tactic appears to be most common among cats having close one-to-one relationships with their owners.

VeryHappyPig will never be psyched out by a cat because VHP will never own one!

 

 

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