Categories: meow

Pitiful cat meows affect people less emotionally than whining dogs

A group of scientists led by Katherine Young of King’s College London have come to the conclusion that the whining of distressed dogs are more emotionally affecting to humans than the pitiful meows of distressed cats.

Cat meow and dog whine. Montage by PoC. Original artwork in public domain.

They recruited more than 500 participants who were divided into three groups: dog owners, cat owners and non-owners. Across all groups people found that dog whines were the most emotionally affecting sound. In other words, even cat owners found the whine of a dog affected them more than the meow of a cat. In fact, they were all emotionally moved to the same extent as if they were listening to the crying of a human baby.

They concluded that the meows of cats affected people much less. I have one or two comments to make about this. Firstly, there are different types of cat meow! I know that’s obvious but there is a cat meow which includes a little bit of a baby cry at the same time. It is a meow which has been developed by our feline friends over thousands of years perhaps to elicit a response from their human companions. It is said that cats only meow towards humans. I wonder whether the study took into account this special meow? I suspect it did not and if so the study is incomplete.

Another point which I think is worth making is that dogs have been domesticated for more than twice the amount of time that cats have. This appears to have given them an advantage in developing and evolving vocalisations which achieve more in their interactions with their human companions. It is highly likely that this has happened. Dogs have learned how to push the human button to make them take action to the dog’s advantage.

If I’m correct then in another 10,000 years, domestic cats will have a meow equal to the domestic dog’s whine. It’s just a question of time!

The study by Katherine Young and her team was part of another study upon which I reported recently in which they concluded that the stereotype of the ‘crazy cat lady’ does not exist in reality when scientifically tested. For me, it appears to be a sexist remark originating out of in 1872 New York Times’s article which I discussed on another page.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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