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HomescienceWhy do cats meow more at humans - 10/07/2024 - Science

Why do cats meow more at humans – 10/07/2024 – Science

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This is a story that goes back thousands of years.

Originally, cats were solitary creatures. This meant that they preferred to live and hunt alone rather than in groups. Most of their social behavior was limited to interactions between mother and calf. Outside of this relationship, cats rarely meowed at each other.

However, when cats began to live with humans, these vocalizations took on new meanings. In many ways, when a cat meows at us, it is as if she sees us as her caretakers, just like her cat mothers.

Cats may have been the first to do this. Finding people There is almost 10 thousand yearsWhen people began to establish permanent settlements, these settlements attracted rodents, which in turn attracted cats looking for prey. The less fearful and more adaptable cats thrived, benefiting from a steady food supply. Over time, these cats developed closer bonds with humans.

Unlike dogs, which are bred by humans to have specific characteristics, cats are primarily They have domesticated themselves.Those who could tolerate and communicate with humans had a survival advantage, resulting in the population being well adapted to living alongside humans.

To understand this process, we can look at Russian experiments with farmed foxes. Starting in the 1950s, Soviet scientist Dmitry Belyaev and his team selectively bred silver foxes, mating those that were less fearful and aggressive toward humans.

Over the generations, these foxes have become more docile and friendly, and have developed physical characteristics similar to those of domestic dogs, such as floppy ears and a curly tail. Words It has also changed, going from aggressive “coughs” and “snorts” to more friendly sounds, reminiscent of human laughter.

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These experiments showed that selective breeding for domestication can produce a series of behavioral and physical changes in animals, achieving in a few decades what would normally take thousands of years. Although less pronounced than the differences between dogs and their ancestral wolves, cats have also changed since their days as African wildcats. They now have smaller brains and more Various coat colorscharacteristics shared by many local species.

Vocal adaptations of cats

Just like silver foxes, cats have adapted their vocalizations, albeit over a much longer period of time. Human babies are altruistic at birth, meaning they are completely dependent on their parents. This dependence has made us Set it up specifically With calls for help – ignoring them will be costly to human survival.

Cats change their vocalizations to take advantage of this sensitivity, according to a 2009 study by animal behavior researcher Karen McComb and her team Evidence of this adaptation is provided. Study participants heard two types of purring. One type was recorded when cats were seeking food (seeking purring) and another type was recorded when cats were not seeking food (nonseeking purring). Both cat owners and non-cat owners rated the purring request as more urgent and less pleasant.

Acoustic analysis revealed a high-pitched component to this purr of demand, similar to a scream. This subtle cry relies on our innate sensitivity to sounds of distress, making it almost impossible to ignore.

But it wasn't just cats that adapted their vocalizations: we did too. When we talk to babies, we use Mother's accentalso known as “baby talk,” is characterized by a higher pitch, exaggerated tones, and simplified language. This type of speech helps engage children by playing a role in their lives. Language development.

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We extend this communication style to our interactions with pets. Recent research suggests that cats respond to this type of communication. A 2022 study by animal behavior researcher Charlotte de Mouzon and colleagues She found that cats could distinguish between speech directed at them and speech directed at adult humans. This pattern of discrimination was particularly strong when the speech came from the cat's owners.

Our adoption of pet-directed speech reinforces the bond that mirrors the interactions between mother and cat.

Changes in vocalizations are not only observed in the relationships between cats and humans. Compared to the ancestral wolf, dogs Their barking behavior expanded. To communicate more effectively with humans, as with cats, we use pet-directed speech when interacting with dogs.

Over time, cats have evolved to use vocal cues that match our feeding instincts. Combined with our use of pet-directed speech, this two-way communication highlights the unique relationships we develop with our feline friends. It seems that cats may be the winners in this relationship, adapting to demand care and attention from us. Yet many cat owners wouldn’t have it any other way.

This article was published in brazil conversation Reproduced here under a Creative Commons license. Click here To read the original version

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