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Cats exploit human need to nurture

For those with a deep suspicion of cats and their motivations, this may well be the scientific proof they have been waiting for. New research has finally laid bare the degree to which cats exploit humans.

world Updated: Jul 15, 2009 01:42 IST

For those with a deep suspicion of cats and their motivations, this may well be the scientific proof they have been waiting for. New research has finally laid bare the degree to which cats exploit humans.

Instead of loud miaowing when they want food some cats disguise their cries for attention within an otherwise pleasant purr.

The result, according to a study published on MOnday 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.

Dr Karen McComb, a specialist in mammal vocal communication at the University of Sussex, England, said by employing an embedded cry, cats appear to be exploiting innate tendencies that humans have for nurturing offspring.

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”.

Guardian