The Real Cheshire Cat

November 24, 2011

Eva Gusnowski

Cats really are diabolical.  But before plotting your “trip” down the stairs, these cuddly creatures are going to milk everything out of you that they possibly can.  That’s right…cats are the televangelists of mammals…the exploiters of the animal kingdom…the pyramid schemers of felines.  Now there’s scientific proof.

And this is their king…


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                                         And Julian Rex was their king.


…he is my sister’s feline friend.  Looks adorable, right?  And he is.  In fact, he’s probably one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever met.  He’s friendly, vocal and likes to purr quite a bit.  All this time I thought he was just a nice cat, but now I know better.

Domesticated cats will purr when they are happy, but they also purr as a means to solicit food from their owners.  It was found in a study published in 2009 that there are differences between “happiness purrs” and “hungry purrs”, and cat-owners are more capable at distinguishing between these purring categories than non cat-owners, suggesting a learning component to this ability.  “Hunger purrs” sound much more urgent and needy whereas “happiness purrs” sound, well, happy (try distinguishing them for yourself here).  Analysis of the acoustics of these purr categories revealed that the frequency of the hunger purrs was close to a meow or, get this, a cry.


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And the frequency is not just like any old cry: the acoustics of the hidden purr-cry resembles that of a crying human infant.  So when a cat wants something from you, like food, it makes a sound like a crying baby but not as annoying as overtly meowing all of the time.  Because humans have an innate need to nurture, especially at the sound of a crying baby, they feel more inclined to give the cat what it wants.  Manipulation at its finest.


Science is on to you cats…now if only you weren’t so darned cute.


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                                          Winston refuses to use less Charmin.



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