There is a special cat purr combined with a distress cry which triggers humans to give food. A study about the cat’s self-trained special baby-cry purr was published in 2009. At the time a lot was spoken about it. It is a special purr superimposed with a baby’s distress cry. It evolved in the domestic cat to make their human caregiver more giving on the important matter of proving food when asked.
The scientists call is a ‘solicitation purr’ which means a purr that asks (for food).
Generously, the scientists who conducted the experiment which highlighted the solicitation purr have allowed us to download the audio file and upload it to our websites. So here is the comparison between this magical, special domestic cat purr which tweaks the human brain so that they respond, and the standard version which we know so well.
I am sure that a lot of people even after the extensive discussion about it don’t really listen to this special purr. They have learned to respond to it which is what the cat desires.
They respond because the human is programmed to respond to a crying infant. The domestic cat seems to have learned that simple fact and adapted their purr to enhance the power of their requests.
The standard meow is the primary vocalisation to ask for something. The infant distress cry purr appears to have the same purpose. The meow and solicitation purr can be used consecutively.
It is suggested that kittens first use the purr when suckling from their mother. It is a signal to say ‘all is well’. The mother purrs in response to say the same thing to her newborns.
The relationship between a cat’s caregiver and their cat is mother to kitten most of the time. The distress-cry purr is perhaps a modified version of the standard purr produced by the kitten when suckling but in the human-cat relationship it is a request and not a confirmation that milk is being received.
Cat caregivers who were more experienced responded better to this special purr: “Individuals that had owned a cat did perform significantly better than non-owners, suggesting that the ability to identify these purrs can improve through learning”. The distress call purr is regarded as the more urgent and less pleasant compared to the standard version.
The scientists were: Karen McComb, Anna M.Taylor, Christian Wilson and Benjamin D.Charlton. The study is: The cry embedded within the purr. Published on https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982209011683.