Thursday 16 July 2009

Scientist proves cats control humans

I've long known who are the masters in my home - my cats.

After I took in two tiny stray bundles of ginger fur that had been found abandoned in a cardboard box several years ago, they quickly earned the name The Midwich Kittens - after the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham in which psychic children mind control the adults in a entire town.

The ginger twins would sit side by side like identical cat statues and stare at me with their golden eyes, willing me to do their bidding - which I usually did.

Then they developed this disturbing, sinister purr - a deep purr that is almost a low growl - the kind of purr you expect Blowfeld's cat to make. It was a purr that said: "I am a gentle tyrant, but if you don't obey me you will soon feel the sharpness of my claws..."

And now my suspicions have been proved right. Scientists at the University of Sussex have discovered that cats use a special purr capable of overpowering their owners and bending them to their will.

Lead researcher Dr Karen McComb said cats have "tapped into" a human weakness by producing a sound humans find difficult to ignore - a low but loud purr combined with a cry that sounds very like a human baby. These "soliciting purrs" are different from cats' normal purring, she said.

The scientists gathered recordings of cats purring. "When we played the recordings to human volunteers, even those people with no experience of cats found the soliciting purrs more urgent and less pleasant," said Dr McComb.

She added: "How urgent and unpleasant the purr is, seems to depend on how much energy the cat puts into producing that cry.

"We think that cats learn to dramatically exaggerate it when it proves effective in generating a response from humans. Obviously we don't know what's going on inside their minds, but they learn how to do this, and then they do it quite deliberately."

It is certainly true that we can't really tell what's going on in our cats' minds - what their long-term goal might be. Today, they are content to be pampered by us humans, their unwitting slaves; tomorrow, their demands might grow. One day, perhaps, they will control the world...

For further information, see the story published on BBC News.

The Midwich Cuckoos

1 comment:

The Greenwich Phantom said...

Tee hee - I know all about that one. Ours makes a particularly pathetic cry when she comes in from carousing and thinks we're out. It's so tortured that I want to call out and let her know it's ok - except that if I do she just stalks in with the attitude ' oh - you're here, minions' and goes off somewhere to sleep until teatime.