Cats Do Use Mind Control: Study

Cry used by hungry kitties shows knowledge of human hearing, psychology
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2009 4:05 PM CDT
New Hampshire postal worker George Knapp shows off an 8-week-old kitten that he adopted June 22, 2009, at the MSPCA in Boston.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Cats seeking food use a cry that humans find maximally urgent and annoying, LiveScience reports. Researchers played a range of cat calls for humans and found that one—a high-pitched cry embedded in a purr—to be the most difficult to ignore, whether the subject owned a cat or not. Scientists think hungry cats may use the purr-cry to sound more like human offspring.

The purr-cry is also less harmonic than a conventional meow, and may therefore be harder to get used to, the researchers said. “The embedding of a cry within a call that we normally associate with contentment is quite a subtle means of eliciting a response,” the study’s lead author says.