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Are Humans Hardwired for Feline Servitude?

Even if you’ve never lived with a cat, you can still be subject to their powers of mammalian mind-control.

The Cry Embedded Within the Purr,” Karen McComb, Anna M. Taylor, Christian Wilson, and Benjamin D. Charlton, Current Biology, 19 (13), July 2009, pp. R507-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.05.033. The authors, from The Centre for Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research and Zoo Atlanta, wrote in Current Biology:

“Here we report how domestic cats make subtle use of one of their most characteristic vocalisations — purring — to solicit food from their human hosts, apparently exploiting sensory biases that humans have for providing care. When humans were played purrs recorded while cats were actively seeking food at equal amplitude to purrs recorded in non-solicitation contexts, even individuals with no experience of owning cats judged the ‘solicitation’ purrs to be more urgent and less pleasant.”

Hear a solicitation purr versus a non-solicitation purr.

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