The insistent meowing and scratching on the door is a familiar sound for many cat owners. The reason it’s hard to ignore might surprise you.
As much as we want to sleep in—and train our cats to do the same—we often end up shuffling out of bed to fill the food bowl. It’s the animals that are conditioning the humans now.
It’s hard to ignore the morning pleas of cats, and scientists at the University of Sussex might know why. Our crafty kittens are highly skilled in getting what they want. Many cats emit a combination of a purr and a meow specifically when they want food. This sound is less annoying for humans than a plain meow, because it is combined with the sound cats make when they are happy. The purr/meow is highly effective.
Works for non-owners, too.
People who didn’t own cats were still swayed by the purr/meow trick. In tests, they ranked the purr/meow cats made when they wanted food as more urgent than other calls. People also were more likely to respond quickly.
By the way, the cats in the study lived up to their reputations for doing what they want, when they want. Scientists were unable to coax them to generate the purr/meow in tests, so they had to teach owners to record the cats themselves. No wonder cats have a reputation for being finicky!
Source: Current Biology, July 2009
Are you one of us who simply can’t ignore our cats’ insistent pleas and give in to spoiling them, or do you have another method? Share your tactics with us in the comments below.