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Other Noises Include Roaring, Chuffing, and... Miscellaneous
February 3, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Do tigers, lions, leopards and other species of big cats purr like domestic cats? - Big Cat Rescue takes a look at this surprisingly complicated question.
posted by quin (18 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
"One of our most frequently asked questions on our social networking sites and on our tours, is do big cats like tigers and lions purr?"

Why won't anyone answer my more important question: if I am allergic to cats, will I also be allergic to lions?
posted by The Bellman at 9:52 AM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also: Snow Leopards are a supposedly an "exception" to the purr/roar rule because they have a flexible hyoid bone but "have never been heard to roar". This is not an exception to the rule, it's just further confirmation of the obvious awesomeness of snow leopards. They do not have to roar. They know that they can, and that's enough.
posted by The Bellman at 10:01 AM on February 3, 2012 [17 favorites]


If your Snow Leopard is purring, immediately back up your hard drive.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:08 AM on February 3, 2012 [10 favorites]


Cheetahs purr fabulously. When a cheetah purrs to you, you will know we are all from Africa.
posted by Goofyy at 10:20 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


These "giant cat" shelters are incredible. I was lucky enough to be shoot pictures for an article on a similar cat shelter, located in central Indiana, of all places:

http://www.exoticfelinerescuecenter.org/home.html
(article here)

Because we were more privileged than the general tours, due to the article writing nature of our visit, we got to see QUITE a bit that the general public didn't... They will generally give a "behind-the-scenes" tour if you stay in the guest house as well, which is really worth doing if you have any interest.

If you have the opportunity, you NEED to stay in the guest house. It's an incredible experience to be sleeping just yards away from these creatures, hearing the sounds around you periodically. I will warn anyone in advance that once you are there for the night, after hours, that you will not be able to leave until the next day. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and waking up to the sounds of the roars and the like is an AWESOME experience. You really don't realize just how loud they can be until you hear all the morning roaring back and forth....

Also, Joe Taft, who runs the ERFC, is one of the most unique, entertaining, and eccentric people I have ever met... He also has a magical ability to calm all of the cats, they just melt in his presence, and he will be more than happy to talk at length about the history of any of them, as well as the center in general.

I highly recommend that if you are near either of these places that you go... The exotic cat shelters are a very different and more personal take on wild animals than you would normally get to experience. Also, seeing a GIANT cat roll around on its back - just like a housecat - is a great experience. Beware, that they will likely attempt to urinate on you - This happened more than once when we were there.

These places do need constant help - Taking care of the cats is NOT cheap. ERFC has an on-site slaughterhouse to deal with the constant need for food... and they are always being asked to take in more cats, you'd be surprised how many there are in the US that are privately owned.
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:22 AM on February 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


I don't know about purring (except via a bobcat a friend of my dad's had as a pet when young) but let me tell you BEWARE THE SANDPAPER TONGUE on any cat larger than a domestic. I'm not kidding. Big cats are awesome, but being slowly abraded to death is worse than being sprayed by a big (male) cat.
posted by PapaLobo at 10:33 AM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I will admit, at times I get jealous of dog owners. You have such a variety of sizes and temperaments to choose from. Including some really, really big dogs that you can seriously cuddle with.

Cats have a much smaller range of variety. Even the largest of domestic cats isn't that much bigger than the smallest, and even if you go to the pricey exotics such as a Savannah, and get one that's double the size, it's still not that much bigger overall. So watching videos of some of these big cats, seeing them act just like a domestic in so many ways, starts to make me wish I had one.

But then I remember how easy it is for a domestic cat to get annoyed with a person, or playful, and how much their claws and teeth can hurt when they're all in the 10-15 lb range. And what would happen when a big cat got into the same mood. And I realize what a bad idea that is.

Still doesn't mean it wouldn't be wonderful to be lying on the bed, cuddled up to a cat the size of a cheetah, and hearing (and feeling) that purr.
posted by evilangela at 10:56 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and waking up to the sounds of the roars and the like is an AWESOME experience. You really don't realize just how loud they can be until you hear all the morning roaring back and forth....

I've already got a ten-pound feline waking me by six every morning (this morning it was at four), even on the weekend and vacations, wanting his breakfast. I'll pass, thanks.
posted by orange swan at 10:58 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I often wonder if purring is a social display like smiling or is more of a personal, internal sound. Is a cat equally likely to purr when alone?
posted by Jode at 11:11 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


this makes me want to snuggle a cougar more than EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by supermedusa at 11:21 AM on February 3, 2012


Is a cat equally likely to purr when alone?

Yes, but it doesn't make a sound.
posted by goethean at 11:29 AM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


The laser pointer and catnip videos are really worth watching, too. It's amazing how much they're like housecats.

I've been to this particular place and it's definitely worth a trip. It's amazing how close you can get to such huge animals. My favorite thing is watching tigers swim.
posted by desjardins at 11:48 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


...let me tell you BEWARE THE SANDPAPER TONGUE on any cat larger than a domestic.

It's OK to love you pets, just don't love your pets.
posted by The Tensor at 12:24 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I want to see the "do big cats love belly rubs?" episode
posted by desjardins at 1:13 PM on February 3, 2012


Just wanted to give props to The Tensor for The Truth About Cats and Dogs reference... are such props metafilter sanctioned? :)
posted by one4themoment at 1:16 PM on February 3, 2012


SERPENTINE, BABBOO!
posted by stratastar at 4:53 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even the largest of domestic cats isn't that much bigger than the smallest...

As you surmised later, a cat any larger would be too dangerous.
Cats are so strong for their weight -- one the size of a labrador retriever could easily be a lethal threat.

I recall reading a story about an ocelot owner who was attacked by it one night -- it grabbed her by the throat as she slept. Had it had its fangs and claws, it could have done the trick. But they had been pulled, which, I seem to recall, is a common practice with exotic cats. As well as with chimpanzees for exactly the same reason.
posted by y2karl at 6:14 PM on February 3, 2012


My cats are 16 & 20 pounds. When the big one jumps on my lap & starts purring, he won't let me move.
posted by mike3k at 8:35 PM on February 3, 2012


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