Guinness Certifies Northampton Cat Has World’s Loudest Purr

Last week, the Guinness organization certified Smokey the Cat as the cat with the loudest purr in the world. When the above clip was shot, Smokey pumped out about 62 decibels, but Guinness’s records say 67.7 decibels. Smokey has been “unofficially” documented producing 92 decibels, we’re told (which seems pretty unlikely, but far be it from me to be a purra hata). For what it’s worth, though, the sound of an M1 Garand .30-06 rifle firing at one meter is close to 170 decibels, a jet engine at 30 meters is 150 decibels, and a vuvuzela at one meter is 120 decibels — which is about where human hearing damage becomes possible in an acute incident. 85 decibels, however, is enough to cause hearing damage if experienced repeatedly and frequently. 67 decibels is louder than a washing machine, dishwasher or hair dryer.

Here’s what the owner, Ruth Adams of Northampton, UK, told the Metro about it:

Ruth, who adopted the pet from a rescue centre for her ten-year-old daughter, has previously admitted that the record-breaking purring can be ‘either adorable or annoying, depending on what mood you’re in’.

‘It’s not just the volume of her purr which is unusual,’ she notes. ‘She makes quite a unique sound, as if she has a dove stuck in her throat. ‘My daughter thinks it is adorable.’

From the video, Smokey’s purr is definitely sorta dove-y, but not completely unusual. Here’s more of it, for those of you who can’t get enough:

Ready to hear the depressing part? Yes, there’s a depressing part. The ABC News footage ends with the comment that the Adams household is Smokey’s 8th home. Is that because Smokey’s purr makes it tough to sleep? No word from the news — just that Smokey was adopted from a rescue center, where I imagine she’d be kinda hard to miss. Apparently the press believes its more important to enjoy plenty LOLZ and bathe in adorableness without coping with any real issues — and yes, that’s violin music you hear. It’s catsploitation, purr and simple. But kudos to the esteemed Ms. Adams and her daughter for embracing the earth-shaking vocalizations of Smokey — a cat who, for the record, would be welcomed at my house any time (I sleep with earplugs in).

But wait! Dedicated Techyum readers will know that you can’t have a Guinness record on anything without more controversy than that! Just read the comments on this video posted by YouTube user buckethead2010, who claims to have the world’s loudest cat but is set straight by the commenters. FssssFsssFssss!!! Mrrowrr!!!

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering WTF purring is (as I often do), and whether other animals purr, the arbiter of all things factual tells me:

The term “purring” has been used liberally in literature, and it has been claimed that viverrids (civet, mongoose, genet), bears, badgers, hyaenas (et cetera) purr. Other animals that have been said to purr are rabbits, squirrels, guinea pigs, tapirs, ring-tailed lemurs, elephants, raccoons and gorillas while eating. However, using a strict definition of purring that continuous sound production must alternate between pulmonic egressive and ingressive airstream (and usually go on for minutes)…in an exhaustive review of the scientific literature, reached the conclusion that until then only ‘purring cats’ (Felidae) and two species of genets, Genetta tigrina, and most likely also Genetta genetta, had been documented to purr.


The genet is a sort of civet-like thing, and, well, they’re charming. I couldn’t find a good video of a genet purring, but here’s a not-that-good one, on the purr side, but pretty wicked with teh cute. Seriously, you have to click this. Have to.

If you turn the volume way up, you can just barely hear the little chirpy purr of the pet genet in that video. This genet doesn’t purr, but it’s a baby, so click it anyway. And if you’re wondering what civets are, well, they poop gourmet coffee, and they don’t purr. And no, I’m not making up the “they poop gourmet coffee” part. But they don’t purr, so we’re only talking about them because it’s weird that they poop gourmet coffee. Is that a skill they could teach me? It would sure as hell save me some greenbacks, that’s for damn sure.

Anyway, back to purring. Did you know that scientists actually don’t know how cats purr? According to the Library of Congress (which, I guess, must be in charge of such things) is no unique physical feature that cats (and the two species of genets) possess that explain how the sound is generated. Big cats of the genus Panthera (lions, leopards, tigers, jaguars) purr only when exhaling, unlike domestic cats, which purr both directions. Here’s a purring cheetah (genus Acinonyx, not Panthera):

Incidentally, if you ever choose to pet a cheetah up close and personal like that, my non-expert advice is that you endeavor to make it purr as loud as possible. When it stops purring…don’t run. Just smile and try not to look delicious.

One of the very best things about the internet is Robert Eklund’s site, a site “Devoted to field purring.” Srsly. Check it. Here’s another purring cheetah, from Eklund:

Possibly related posts: