If you've ever wondered who's in control, you or your cat, a new study points to the obvious. It's your cat.
Household cats exercise this control with a certain type of urgent-sounding, high-pitched meow, according to the findings.
This meow is actually a purr mixed with a high-pitched cry. While people usually think of cat purring as a sign of happiness, some cats make this purr-cry sound when they want to be fed. The study showed that humans find these mixed calls annoying and difficult to ignore.
"The embedding of a cry within a call that we normally associate with contentment is quite a subtle means of eliciting a response," said Karen McComb of the University of Sussex. "Solicitation purring is probably more acceptable to humans than overt meowing, which is likely to get cats ejected from the bedroom," LiveScience.com.
Researcher and cat person Dr. Karen Dr McComb said that the controlling sound happens "at a low level in cats' normal purring."
McComb said the phenomenon appears most frequently with cats that have a "one-on-one relationship with their owners." Perhaps those of us that share living quarters with cats should be flattered by all of the trouble that they go to manipulate our actions and emotions. After all, that's a trait that is evident in many human-to-human relationships.
As someone whose rather large and powerful cat chooses to, quite literally, bang on the bedroom door and demand in a very loud and high-pitched yowl to be fed at 5 a.m., a subtle purr of manipulation would not be an entirely unwelcome change of pace, Examiner.