I knew I had to post this when I saw it. According to large swathes of the press , scientists have discovered the means by which cats control us.
Cats have learned that loud miaowing is not an effective strategy for waking us up for an early breakfast at 5am. Any cat trying that will probably find themselves extramuralised velocitatiously be it via the door or via the window.
Some cats (Robyn, Bebe and Ted included) disguise their cries for attention within an otherwise pleasant purr. The result, according to a study in the journal Current Biology, is a complex "solicitation" purr with a high-frequency element that triggers a sense of urgency in the human brain. Owners find it irritating, but not irritating enough to kick the cat out, and feel driven to respond. Which means that it pierces through the highest tog rated duvet and several pillows. It bores into your brain faster than that irritating advert jingle that kept playing in your brain until 4am
Dr Karen McComb, a specialist in mammal vocal communication at the University of Sussex, said that by employing an embedded cry, cats appear to be exploiting innate tendencies that humans have for nurturing offspring."The embedding of a cry within a call that we normally associate with contentment is quite a subtle means of eliciting a response – and solicitation purring is probably more acceptable to humans than overt meowing," she said.
McComb began the research into domestic cats after noticing the "manipulative" purring of her own cat, Pepo. "I wondered why this purring sounded so annoying and was so difficult to ignore," she said. "Talking with other cat owners, I found that some of them also had cats which showed similar behaviour."
After testing human responses to different purring types, McComb and her team found that even those with no experience of cats judged the "solicitation" purr to be more urgent and less pleasant. On examining the frequency of the special purr, she found a peak similar to that of a baby's cry, which gave it a "noisy, slightly whiny quality".
Asked whether the cat's special purr is more effective than other demands for food, she said: "I think it might be more effective than a dog. If you ask people who own cats what they do when they get up they say they feed their cats. Even before they have a cup of coffee. Cats are very good at getting their own way."
That is so true!
The problem for Dr McComb is now she has revealed the cat’s secret solicitation I fear that she will receive a visit from the Feline mafia. The editor of Current Biology will almost certainly wake up and find a mouse head in their bed