Meet Smokey, the Super-Purrer: Louder Than a Locomotive ... But is She Able to Leap Tall Buildings?

PetMD Editorial
Published: February 23, 2011
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Imagine a motorcycle engine running in your living room, and you can imagine the daily life of Mark and Ruth Adams. The couple, who live in Northampton, U.K., have recorded the sound of their 12-year-old cat’s purr, and it comes in at a conversation drowning 80 decibels; reportedly more than three times the sound volume of an ordinary cat’s purr.

Smokey, as the cat is named, is a British Shorthair -- the breed best known for playing the part of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland -- but her breed is no indication of why she has the ability to purr so loudly. The Adams’ say that the only time Smokey is quiet is when she is sleeping. She even purrs while she is eating, they say.

While cats are known to have the ability to use their purr to "manipulate" humans, it is not known why Smokey is able to purr at such a high level, or what benefit would be gained by it.

The purr itself is created by a vibration in the muscles close to the voice box. Over the millennia that cats have lived as companions to humans they have developed ways to elicit the responses that serve them best, using a distinct whining sound embedded in the purr that is similar to the sound a human baby makes and causing humans to feed and nurture them -- the same instincts that have served to keep the human race moving forward.

Purring has also been found to be related to the cat’s well known ability to heal even from the gravest of wounds, as the vibration encourages the healing of muscles, tendons and bones.

While Smokey’s voice may not serve her directly in the way of garnering extra treats or hugs from her owners, they are using her celebrity status to further the health of other cats. Smokey is raising awareness for cats in need as an honorary volunteer for the U.K.’s Cats Protection Northhampton branch.

We may even soon see Smokey in the Guinness Book of World Records. They have the category for loudest cat, but no entrants as of yet.

Purr it loud, purr it proud, Smokey.

Image: Geoff Robinson Photography

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