From the July 31, 2009 issue of The Week.
What ‘meow’ really means
Cats are known to be manipulative, and a new study of their purring confirms just how clever they can be. Karen McComb, an animal-communication researcher at the University of Sussex in the U.K., analyzed the purrs of house cats as they begged their owners for food. She found that when cats were hungry, they altered their purring so that it was eerily similar to the cry of an infant. When McComb played back these cat cries to human listeners, people found them almost impossible to ignore. The mixture of frequencies in the sounds “subliminally triggers a sense of urgency,” McComb tells ABCnews.com. She suspects that this human-like vocalization is natural to cats, but that they learn to exaggerate it to get what they want from us.
Photo: Peeshy knows you will obey. Who could say no to her?