The complicated truth about a cat's purr
July 28, 2018 7:06 AM   Subscribe

The BBC's Ask a Stupid Question explores what a cat's purr means. "Most of us feed the cat before ourselves, which shows how effective their communication is.”
posted by Helga-woo (66 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
“In the morning loud purring can be used, together with human face patting or rubbing, to wake up a human and thus get breakfast. Most of us feed the cat before ourselves, which shows how effective their communication is.”

My cat does wake me up in the morning by jumping on the bed and purring loudly in my face, but the real reason why I feed him first is because he will nip me if I don't. Which doesn't disprove the assertion that he's an effective communicator...
posted by lollymccatburglar at 7:24 AM on July 28, 2018 [27 favorites]


In conclusion, cats are the best.

The end.
posted by greermahoney at 7:28 AM on July 28, 2018 [30 favorites]


My big calico girl (12lb - I've checked with my vet, she's like a 5-6 on the weight chart) will jump on my chest and wake me up. With her dainty legs this is like a a ball of fluff walking over you in high heels.

If you weren't awake before you will be now along with a cry of "GINGER!"

My little calico girl (8lb) will just start nosing around everywhere.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 7:36 AM on July 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


"Most of us feed the cat before ourselves, which shows how effective their communication is.”

If by "communication" they mean a non-fed cat being a complete jerk while you are trying to eat your meal in peace - for instance, by jumping on the table and waving their butt in your face, or sniffing your plate - then yes, cats have excellent communication.
posted by carter at 7:38 AM on July 28, 2018 [48 favorites]


I hear the purr and the cat starts rubbing up against my leg and all I can think is

dont bite me dont bite me dont bite me please do not bite me you've gone 30 seconds now I can see it in your eyes don't bite me...
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:45 AM on July 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


KITTIES.
posted by Artw at 7:57 AM on July 28, 2018 [19 favorites]


My cat very rarely purrs -- maybe once in a long while when he's really blissed out and getting a two-handed belly scritch and the temperature's just right, etc. etc.

Don't worry, he usually communicates by:

Evening: loudly singing the song of his people and pointedly flopping over onto his back, little front pawsies curled up. Perhaps it is to get me to think he has collapsed from hunger.

Morning: Gently patting my arm and meowing not too loudly. Scale up to patting my arm harder, moving in for pets and then walking away to demonstrate what I am to do, and finally patting my mouth with semi-unsheathed claws.

Truly, cats are masters of communication.
posted by kalimac at 8:00 AM on July 28, 2018 [22 favorites]


Our old 22-lb. Maine Coon was the kind of cat you didn't trifle with - once he started making that discontented Miss Piggy sound you damn well needed to feed him because he could *hurt you.*

The current 3 lb. ball of fluff has to resort to breaking shit, because she has a tiny little voice and half the time I don't even notice if she's jumping up and down on me.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:01 AM on July 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


Our cat gets dry food. But he is very needy in terms of attention, as in, will headbutt your nose at 2AM because a few hours of intense snuggling have left him feeling lonely and insecure. He also does not fully understand the concept of retractable claws, or that rubbing his face on people is only cute when his teeth aren't exposed, or that 4AM is not playtime.
posted by Foosnark at 8:08 AM on July 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


One hypothesis is that the purr is a powerful healing action. It’s thought that the vibrations from the activity are physically rejuvenating – a way for the cat to ‘heal’ itself after stress.
This would explain so much. My cat is 15 years old and doesn't not act or look a day over 5. Seriously. She will run and jump and leap like a spry young thing. If you bring out a string she will immediately go after it, faster than some 3-year-old cats I know! She doesn't show any signs of joint pain, or lack of energy, or ill health in any way at all. I've partially attributed* it to the fact that she's very small, for a cat; I know smaller animals live longer. But she's also a purring machine. She purrs the instant you start petting her. She will start purring as soon as you approach her, sometimes. Hell, we've had her walk around the corner, see one of us on the toilet, and she trots over, purring! And you don't even need to keep petting her. Sometimes she'll just lay there and purr for like 15 minutes after we're done petting her. No wonder she's the healthiest cat in existence.

She does not, however, have a feed-me purr. She self regulates incredibly well (seriously--this cat will start to refuse treats if you give her more than 4-5 at once) so we've always just left out a big bowl of food for her to eat whenever she wants, and refill it as it gets low. Which, let me tell you, is the best way to have a cat. The only problem is occasionally we don't notice immediately when she's low on food, but instead of pestering us and purring she just... drags the food bag down. But, like, she doesn't chew at it or try and get into it. She's also never, to my knowledge, pulled it down when we were gone either. She just pulls it down when we're in the vicinity, which we hear, and one of us goes, "Oh shit!" and comes running to fill her food bowl, so that's how she communicates needing to be fed.

*My other hypothesis is that she's a witch that accidentally turned herself into a cat.
posted by brook horse at 8:14 AM on July 28, 2018 [67 favorites]


Surely this is a thread where we should be spamming each other with our cat videos, no? Here is my cat (Snow) purring at: a snuggle on my return from a 9-day vacation; a random snuggle with loud purring; purring while kneading my legs; and purring while kneading her beloved sheepskin throw. (And here she is playing with her own tail - no purring, but it's one of her cutest habits.)

I've never known her to purr at me for food though, can't really think of any cat I've owned who did.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:16 AM on July 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


All of these stories about cats walking people up at various hours of the night are one reason why our bedroom is the one room in the house our cats are not allowed into (the other reason being a desire to have one space free of cat hair). One of our cats used to reach under the door and rattle it with her paw to signal her desire for food or attention or both until a bedside spray bottle full of water taught her the error of her ways.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:16 AM on July 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Digby doesn't purr and it makes me sad, my other cat purred like a motorboat. I was told by a vet that because he was a street kitten his mama taught him not to purr so they wouldn't draw attention from predators. But don't worry - he wakes me up to be fed by chewing/pulling/eating my hair - which has the added bonus of creating lovely poop charm bracelets in the litter box.
So yeah, cats.
posted by NoraCharles at 8:24 AM on July 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


Our girl purrs pretty relentlessly, but never for food. She quacks for food, and sometimes for treats (which she only began to like in her late middle age, once we stopped feeding her dry food).

She has two levels of purr:
-This is acceptable
-FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

Usually the latter purr is reserved for snoogles on the sofa or our nighttime cuddles. But every now and then she will employ it while playing, which is super weird to me, but far from the weirdest shit this cat does.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:46 AM on July 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


she does not purr to wake me up in the morning as she has found it much more immediately effective to stick her paw directly into my mouth.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:47 AM on July 28, 2018 [27 favorites]


Slight derail: good cat karma, please. One of our little monsters somehow got out last night and hasn't come home. It's been less than a day, he's microchipped, and we don't live next to an especially busy street (and he's terrified of cars anyway), so we're cautiously optimistic...but still. I haven't eaten today, and I've fallen asleep three times between neighborhood canvassing sessions out of sheer anxiety-induced exhaustion. Wish us luck.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:48 AM on July 28, 2018 [70 favorites]


I have a 3cat. One litter under the shed, one night of trapping, three kittens, equals one 3cat. They do everything together, but there are rules.

One's job is to rub up against me at any opportunity, get belly rubs and chase his sister. His purr is almost inaudible.

Another's job is to be dainty, gorgeous and aloof, and to be pursued endlessly. Her purr is rare but exquisite.

The biggest job requires the biggest cat. Large and in charge, El Blimpo's job is looking for food and stomping me out of bed when none is found. His purr is commensurately huge; I worry that the neighbors will complain.

There are NO circumstances where the separation of duties will be violated.

I am recommending a 3cat if your life lacks that little extra bit of chaos.
posted by skippyhacker at 8:52 AM on July 28, 2018 [27 favorites]


Mr Bad Example, I've got all fingers and paws in my house crossed for a safe return.
posted by twilightlost at 8:57 AM on July 28, 2018 [18 favorites]


"Most of us feed the cat before ourselves, which shows how effective their communication is.”

If by "communication" they mean a non-fed cat being a complete jerk while you are trying to eat your meal in peace - for instance, by jumping on the table and waving their butt in your face, or sniffing your plate - then yes, cats have excellent communication.


On a practical level: yeah, the cat is gonna be disruptive while you eat. It's not about the cat training us or suckering us at all.

But also, consider: we generally make them dependent on us. Housecats generally can't go out and hunt on their own. They don't have opposable thumbs or the strength to get canned food out of wherever it's stored and open it up. If they could, they would. Why give them any grief over this?

Although once upon a time I had a dry food dispenser and one of my cats would still wake me up with purrs in the morning because she wanted me to run my finger through it and loosen up the food rather than doing it herself. That was a little weird.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:04 AM on July 28, 2018 [13 favorites]


So we got new cars last year, a one year old rescue from a hoardy house and a kitten (who is now the bigger of the two even though refer to her as the tiny kitten) and they communicate with each other constantly, mostly in a variety of meeps and trills. Older cat can’t really meow properly (she makes a sort of squeaky noise instead) and former kitten doesn’t really meow much either, which I suspect is a socialization thing. Anyway they chase each other around going mrrrp and brrrp all day.

Former kitten also has a very intense mode of putting I call over-purr where she’s basically purring so hard the purse overlap with each other and sort of gurgle. She usually does this when attempting to lick peoples faces.
posted by Artw at 9:14 AM on July 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


I've been awakened to fill (the already usually quite full) food bowl in just about every manner imaginable over the years, but the least favorite of all methods was The Oof, employed by the dumbest, sweetest cat I've ever known. The Oof was called The Oof because Kelty would start from a height in the room and jump, all 17 pounds of him, to first my stomach *OOF!* and use the bounce for some air to land on my husband's stomach *OOF!*
"Jesus! Get up! Kelty's gonna oof us!" was a morning refrain for years. We both miss that dumb old boy.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:25 AM on July 28, 2018 [26 favorites]


Ticky is a little diesel engine when he purrs, he uses it to maximum effect and basically runs the house, like all good cats do. He's a master of the embed your head in the hand school of nuzzling and purring, and specializes in singing the songs of his people in the wee hours.

This is what I woke up to the other morning.
posted by arcticseal at 9:35 AM on July 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


Finger's crossed Mr Bad Example, hope he gets home safe and well soon.

Do anyone else's cats' purrs get so intense they give themselves hiccups, or is that just my two?
posted by Helga-woo at 9:41 AM on July 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


This thread needs more photographs.
posted by 4ster at 9:44 AM on July 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Marjan Debevere is a cat shelter photographer in London who is currently studying for a degree in feline psychology.

brb, I gotta go apply to grad school...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:44 AM on July 28, 2018 [14 favorites]


In the spirit of oh yeah! and 4ster calling for posting videos and pictures, here is my cat's no-longer-updated Instagram account, which is the only place I really have any pictures up.

My cat, Molly, who recently passed away,** was never much into purring, and even when she did purr you usually had to put your ear directly against her body to hear it. My gf used to say "cats purr when they're stressed, you know" *every single time* my cat purred. She's a dog person and had this weird notion (prior to moving in with me and Molly, anyway) that cats just don't ever feel or express the same kind of pleasure/affection towards their owners that dogs do, or that showing cats affection was always a source of stress for them. I know cats purr for many reasons, but I'm glad to see from this article that it's not *mostly* those other reasons.
“In the morning loud purring can be used, together with human face patting or rubbing, to wake up a human and thus get breakfast. Most of us feed the cat before ourselves, which shows how effective their communication is.”
I've always felt that, like scaryblackdeath, I feed the cat first because the cat can't feed herself and it's my responsibility, and when it comes to the necessities of survival, I discharge my responsibilities to my dependents before I take care of myself. (Although Molly was an extremely chill cat and didn't really whine about food or get up in your face about much.) Honestly, it was the same when I had any other pet growing up. I'd feel like such a dick if I didn't take care of them first.

Mr. Bad Example: I hope your cat gets home safe.

**This links to a sad story about my cat, not just pictures/videos, so if mods feel like it's too self-linky, by all means delete it.
posted by Fish Sauce at 10:04 AM on July 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


Most people are lousy cat trainers. This includes my wife.
posted by srboisvert at 10:24 AM on July 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Our cats only purr when they are lying on us. Petting? Meh. Food time? No, that is time for loud meowing and deliberately being bad. But if they can sit on our laps, or preferably our chest whilst we're lying down, then is time for super rattly purrs.
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Ugh BBC science reporting is spotty at best. The only research link in the article is that petting a cat is stress reducing to humans (The Tabby Mouser is here reading this with me and we both say "duh").

Trying to google the acoustic healing stuff--well, I don't know the journals or players that are coming up and it's not my field at all but I think it's fair to say it hasn't caught on at the mainstream science level.

Abigail Tucker ("Lion in the Living Room") pointed out that cats are evolved from solitary animals and didn't really have a strong incentive to "communicate." The researchers she talked to suggested purring be considered more a response than a way to communicate something, which is why purring both when happy and distressed makes sense. It's a trait that evolved but that doesn't mean it's an adaptation.
posted by mark k at 10:39 AM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Video
posted by Artw at 10:53 AM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


When I was collecting my kindergartener’s cubby hole art on the last day of school this year, I found this poem from poetry week entitled My Cat.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:53 AM on July 28, 2018 [18 favorites]


My cat purrs at a low-to-medium volume if we're snuggling, but not really during other times. Like someone else mentioned above, you have to put your ear right up against him to hear it.

If he wants food he just goes downstairs to the kitchen and finds something heavy to knock over. Last night it was a 12oz can of tomato sauce.
posted by janepanic at 11:27 AM on July 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Mr. Bad Example, I'm so sorry! Wishing you and your kitty the best of luck for their return.

One of my parents' now-deceased cats, a relatively chatty fellow named Harpo (whoops), couldn't figure out how to purr: you either got a silent vibration or heavy breathing that sounded like an obscene phone call. He only got it together when he was about ten, and it turned out that it was in response to developing severe arthritis.

Meanwhile, my mother has just adopted a five-week-old kitten abandoned on the university campus where she helps with the feral cat colony. His onboard motor is already quite impressive.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:29 AM on July 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Timely tweet:

@thegoodcatboy
hwen ,, BREAKFAST ,, is late

WHAP awake her WHAP

posted by Artw at 11:51 AM on July 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


My cat communicates that it's breakfast time by beginning with inquisitive little "mrp?" noises and escalating the volume into full on yowls of his people and jumping onto my pillow until I can no longer feign being asleep.

After I blearily stumble into the kitchen he begins purring, and I'm convinced this is either to
a) congratulate the human on finally getting the message
b) remind me how cute he is so I somehow forget how angry I am to be stumbling around at, say, 5:26am.
posted by TwoStride at 12:24 PM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Trying to google the acoustic healing stuff--well, I don't know the journals or players that are coming up and it's not my field at all but I think it's fair to say it hasn't caught on at the mainstream science level.

I read the article expecting some new info, but every reason mentioned was something I heard 20 years ago. Healing, stress, hungry, letting mom know you’re OK. When my cat purrs, I assume it’s one of the four. If she loudly purrs while we’re snuggling at night, and she’s keeping me awake, I’ve been known to say aloud “I love you, Fable, but right now I don’t care that you’re OK.”
posted by greermahoney at 12:40 PM on July 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Anubis has learned that he doesn't get SHIT in the morning if he starts pestering me before the alarm goes off. So he sits next to the alarm and will hop onto the bed next to my head as soon as it clicks to turn on! As soon as the alarm goes off though--all bets are off--it's time for chewing my hair, patting my face and mouth with paws, pulling the blankets, etc. On the weekends with no alarms set, he generally leaves me be until around 8am or so. I swear he can read the clock.

Dinnertime though, he starts being irritating around 530-6pm ish even though dinner isn't until 630. By 630 he waits at the food dish and starts the howls if I'm not making movements in the direction of feeding him.
posted by sperose at 12:42 PM on July 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


The study of cats’ behaviour and communication has lagged behind that of dogs, which are usually more willing participants, especially if there is a reward of food involved.

Ya don't say!
posted by maupuia at 1:02 PM on July 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


In response to photo request, here is the 'dying of hunger no really' pose, feat. furry belly: Owain
posted by kalimac at 1:10 PM on July 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


My cat does wake me up in the morning by jumping on the bed and purring loudly in my face, but the real reason why I feed him first is because he will nip me if I don't. Which doesn't disprove the assertion that he's an effective communicator...

My late kitty had a number of innovations over the years. When I slept with my head under a windowsill, for instance, he would wake me by dropping my glasses on my face (he learned this so, so much faster than I learned not to put my glasses there that I'm now concerned with my own cognitive faculties.)

But his last big move, and one of the most effective, was when he learned to jump his front paws up and down on my bladder while I was asleep. That was extremely effective. All while his (still with us) big brother would just watch and stay a cautious distance away. Even now, Big Brother just waits for us to wake up before whining. He never learned the skills.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:26 PM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Our Cassandra has been free-fed since infancy. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know what hunger feels like.

Sometimes I’ll spot her wandering around near her food dish and meowing plaintively. When I check, it’s invariably still at least half full. Usually I top it off anyway, and give her a quick pet.

Long story short, our cat doesn’t need to ask for food, but she does know that pretending to ask for food is a pretty good way to get attention :)
posted by emmalemma at 1:39 PM on July 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Abigail Tucker ("Lion in the Living Room") pointed out that cats are evolved from solitary animals and didn't really have a strong incentive to "communicate."

This is not entirely correct--feral cats generally live in fairly social colonies, queens sharing space to co-rear litters is quite common, and feral cats will choose to socially interact. There's also a paper I am quite fond of that literally tested cat preferences between human attention, food, and toys--and found that human attention was the most common preference by a large margin. (It's actually one of the most elegant designs I've seen in ages.)

My little dude Dent purrs constantly, unless he's wandering around the house mumbling to himself at the top of his lungs. He particularly enjoys purring directly on top of my face. Peter and Ishka, my other two, purr too, but not like Dent does. (No one bothers waking anyone else up in my house, either--everyone gets wet food twice a day like clockwork, and the cue that Morning Food is happening is actually me exiting the shower. So I always leave the shower to a chorus of four to five excited furry little faces, counting the roommates' cats, but if I want to sleep in until noon they won't be too obnoxious about it. It's pretty great.)
posted by sciatrix at 1:45 PM on July 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


One of mine is a big purrer, her sister only on special occasions but the she goes all out and throws in lots of mrp mrp mrps for extra value. If it's dark and I want to be sure which kitty is on me I poke- big purrer will immediately start up he motor.

With healing, I have RA and my hands are often very achy. If I rest them on the purring cat they feel much better for awhile after.
posted by kitten magic at 2:27 PM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Hey, Mr. Bad Example,a friend works witha cat rescue organization and he swears up and down that heating a little skipjack tuna (not albacore) will have every cat in the neighborhood at your door and begging for some using every tool at their disposal. Also, putting an indoor cat's litterbox outside is said to help them find their way home.
posted by peppermind at 2:30 PM on July 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


With healing, I have RA and my hands are often very achy. If I rest them on the purring cat they feel much better for awhile after.
posted by kitten magic


Epurrnysterical!
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:38 PM on July 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


Do anyone else's cats' purrs get so intense they give themselves hiccups, or is that just my two?
posted by Helga-woo


My much missed Lucy Snowe was like that.

Lucy was also diabolically good at getting me out of bed to feed her. She would start out sweet, with purrs and nuzzles to my face. Then she would tap me with her paws, starting at my face. If that did not work, she would walk to my feet and swipe my at my toes with her unsheathed claws. Which hurt. A lot.

We have one cranky old man (Wigford) and two very energetic little girls (Rose and Luna). Wigford's purr is almost inaudible. Luna communicates by body and facial expressions, with an occasional verbal comment if you are not throwing her ball fast enough for fetch. Rose purrs, meeps, meows and is prone to rubbing her head IN YOUR EYEBALLS to EXPRESS HER DEEP LOVE AND DEVOTION at 3:00 AM.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 2:49 PM on July 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Bridget employs the headbutt as her greatest expression of love. The problem is it's not a sweet little headbutt, it's an aggressive, bar fight style headbutt with a lot of feeling behind it. If she gets you on the nose it really hurts! It's a definite "thunk".

We also had to move the fish tank because Eamon used to indicate it was dinner time by trying to climb into it, because we were guaranteed to come running to stop him and then oh hey we're right next to the kitchen might as well feed me right?

Bridget used the slightly more subtle method of shutting herself in a room and then meowing and scratching to be let out, then immediately running to the kitchen. Once, to annoy her, we put the food out first without rescuing her - and she came running because she can indeed open the damn door herself and was choosing not to. Now she skips the whole charade and just sits next to an open door and scratches that.
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:06 PM on July 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Also, putting an indoor cat's litterbox outside is said to help them find their way home.>

We've actually heard that today from another source as well--Mrs. Example just finished scattering some litter out in the back garden, and we've set some food and one of the cat carriers outside with some of our dirty clothes in it (for the scent of home).

Tomorrow I'm going in to my office to run off some posters because I have access to a color laser printer1, and we're going to put them up and through people's mail slots in the neighborhood.

I'm trying to comfort myself by remembering the time I found a 19-year-old cat who had been missing for days, if not a couple of weeks. His family was moving and he got out, got confused, and went back to their old place. It was the dead of winter, and he still managed to survive long enough for us to find him and get him back to his people. I'm hoping our situation turns out at least as well.

1Not exactly a licit use of university resources, but I figure they can bill me if they get really bent out of shape about it. :P
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:33 PM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Update: the cat karma worked! (Or the food, or the litter, or the clothes, or some combination thereof. Whatever it was, I'm glad.) Thanks, everybody.

One of our other cats was sniffing around the back door a little after midnight, and I said "No, you're not going out this time of night--what are you thinking?". He kept sniffing, though, so I shooed him away and opened the door...and our missing cat came bolting in like a little fluffy black and white streak.

He's hiding under the bed right now after his big adventure, so here's a substitute picture of his fluffy majesty instead while Mrs. Example is upstairs crying happy relieved tears.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:11 PM on July 28, 2018 [82 favorites]


maybe if I had a bowl on the floor that I just poured food into I would eat at the same time the cat does?
posted by nikaspark at 4:30 PM on July 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm so glad he's home safely!
posted by peppermind at 4:35 PM on July 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


Mr Badexample - PM me if you need some advice or support. So far I've only had one get seriously out, but I so know how awful it feels. Short advice: cat sized haveaheart trap (Home Depot stocks these in many but not all stores. Don't count on the person you ask to know, check the website for presence and location), a can of preferred food, find the cat and put the trap nearby, then get out of the way. My feral cat hated the fuck out of being trapped, and I just had to put him in a spare room overnight to calm down (with lots of food, water, and a litter box). A flashlight at night will find a cat in a way that nothing else will, but don't expect the found cat to be anything other than terrified and eager to run away. The literature says, and my experience confirms: don't expect the cat to have gone far. I last saw my boy on the first night in the neighbor's yard on one side of my house, and I found and trapped him the next day in the yard on the opposite side (the call of pissed off crows tipped us off). Good luck - we're rooting for you and your cat.
posted by wotsac at 4:52 PM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I was told by a vet that because he was a street kitten his mama taught him not to purr so they wouldn't draw attention from predators

Yeah, my cat (the same that got out above) is semi feral (street cat), and purring is definitely... he knows how to purr, but it's like he learned late in life and he's doing the best he can, but instead of a deep purr he's all nasal and breathy. It's pretty darned cute.
posted by wotsac at 4:55 PM on July 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Now that my big cat drama for the day is over....

When I slept with my head under a windowsill, for instance, he would wake me by dropping my glasses on my face

When we first moved to the UK, our apartment was so tiny that our bedroom was basically a futon with a small shelf running around one edge of the room. We kept our alarm clock on that shelf over the futon. Our late lamented Alfie (a Balinese, and the goofiest, most gorgeous cat you've ever seen) eventually figured out that if he dropped the alarm clock on my head, I would get up and start moving in the direction of the kitchen.

Fortunately we managed to secure the alarm clock after a while, but one memorable morning I woke up to find Mrs. Example holding the ironing board a scant six inches away from my face. See, we'd taken to leaning it up against the wall next to the futon, and Alfie had extrapolated his attention-getting from alarm clocks to larger objects...

...we put it in the utility closet after that.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:04 PM on July 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I just realized i need to put my money where my mouth is. Meet Oliver.
posted by 4ster at 5:31 PM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


-wrong thread-
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:13 PM on July 28, 2018


We just got a little 16 week old kitten and her favorite thing is to curl up on my chest against my chin and purr.

Luckily this is also my favorite thing.

Her second favorite thing is to hop into the kitchen sink and lick the dishes.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:30 PM on July 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


OK, this is the Fable. She is the best cat ever. I’m sorry that merely viewing her likeness will probably ruin you for all other cats. I bear a heavy burden.
posted by greermahoney at 9:22 PM on July 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


Bunnycat chirps and sings to me to ask for things. I have identified at least 4 different trills that she uses to get food, water, brushies, and perhaps most charmingly, to get me to go where she's barfed. She is also a purrboat who purrs herself into the hiccups, but if she is super blissed out, she purrs and trills at the same time!!! I want to get it on tape so badly because it is such a sweet sound.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:36 PM on July 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


This is Solvieg (or at least her claws), a Wegie. Shes mostly aloof and cool but does occasionally enjoy snuggling and turning my chest into a pin-cushion while kneading. Tends to make chirpy noises rather than meows and has a deep but barely audible purr - you can feel it more than hear it.
posted by phigmov at 11:33 PM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


The quote in the post keeps making me smile. Maybe British cats purr genteelly for food but I don't feed mine first because they purr. When they want dinner they meow emphatically at me and try to trip me over. It's a battleground. Purring is reserved for full kitty tummies.
posted by kitten magic at 11:33 PM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


That quote was why I made the post. That, and the feline psychologist...
posted by Helga-woo at 3:38 AM on July 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm literally only awake right now because a cat used the loud-purrs-equal-breakfast technique on me. I swear she monitors my breathing and waits for it to shallow as I hit the end of a sleep cycle, only starting her purrs if she sees me moving or waking.

She then rapidly escalated to the bat-around-increasingly-fragile/important-objects-to-get-a-reaction technique, since purrs entice me to stick around and enjoy the purring more than they entice me to get up and open a can of cat food. So our mornings go.
posted by halation at 8:17 AM on July 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Bizarre. Why bat around fragile and important objects when you could chew through a charging cable or pull down dresses in the closet?
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:28 PM on July 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


This reminds me of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers cartoon of Fat Freddy and Fat Freddy's Cat (aka Fat Freddy Scat), where the cat is winding around his legs while he opens a can of cat food. Freddy's thought balloon reads. "Why do cats rub on your legs when they're hungry?" and the cat's thought balloon reads, "I wonder why people feed me when I rub on their legs?"
posted by corvikate at 8:28 AM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


LaCat deploys the full-on-back, all-bunny-feet, squinty-eyes pose for when she wants playing with; she's an extremely play-oriented kitty. She doesn't snuggle (*sniff*) and has prescribed methods of being petted, and purrs only a little then. But she will talk to me, and in particular go to the bookcase where she knows the toys are and meow a rather specific meow at me. (And respond vocally to the word "play?" when said in a specific tone. I think it's the only word she knows.) That's how she got her name, actually, since that meow is usually within an interval of the pitch A5.

She does come to get petted and purr like an engine in the morning when I'm in bed. But I (possibly inadvertently) trained her by pretending not to be awakened when she came in on her own; now she'll mostly come into the bedroom in the morning when I call, not by herself to try to wake me up. Even then she sometimes just keeps rubbing up against me and licking my arms and purring instead of letting me get up and feed her. She's a silly kitty. I love her.
posted by seyirci at 9:46 AM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


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