It’s Official: Smokey Is The World’s Loudest Cat


Three months ago, Kitty News Network reported on a cat whose thunderous purrs could set a world record.

Today, it’s official: Smokey, a 12-year-old gray and white tabby from Northampton, England, has been honored with the Guinness World Record for Loudest Purr by a Domestic Cat.

According to the Guinness World Records announcement, Smokey’s purr peaked at 67.7 decibels. This is about the level of a loud human conversation.

Smokey, who was adopted from the UK animal charity Cats Protection, purrs at a level about 16 times louder than the average cat, whose expressions of contentment typically hover around 20 decibels.

According to Smokey’s website, it wasn’t easy for the cat’s owner, Ruth Adams, to get the record. The first attempt took place on March 25 and was witnessed by a veterinary nurse, a representative from Cats Protection, a Member of Parliament, and a sound technician from Northampton College. At that time, Smokey’s purr peaked at 73 decibels at a distance of one meter. Unfortunately, the sound technician used a decibel reader that didn’t provide the data printouts Guinness required, so they had to try again.

The second attempt, with the proper equipment and a piece of ham to tempt Smokey, resulted in a purr of 67.7 dB, which set the official world record.

Smokey and I are very excited at being awarded the Guinness World Records title for the Loudest purring domestic cat,” said Adams. “We originally started a purring competition in our home town of Northampton to promote the cats charity Cats Protection. We wish to thank all those who have supported Smokey with her record attempt and especially wish to thank Northampton College for organizing the trials and supplying the expertise I needed to comply with the technical aspects of a Guinness World Records Claim. We are very happy and purring loudly at the announcement that we hold a Guinness World Records title.

Even though it is heard in millions of homes every day, the source of the cat’s purr is still a mystery. Although scientists aren’t sure exactly how a cat’s purr is produced, most agree that the sound comes from the cat’s larynx and its associated muscles and that a neural oscillator in the cat’s brain provides the cue.

Of the members of the Felidae family, only those in the Felinae subfamily–which includes the cougar, cheetah, serval, lynx, caracal, ocelot, and, of course, the domestic cat–can purr while inhaling and exhaling. Members of the Pantherinae subfamily (including the tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard) seem to be able to make a purring sound only when exhaling.

Guinness notes that the loudest sound emitted by any living source comes in the form of the low-frequency pulses made by blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) and fin whales (B. physalus) when communicating with each other, which reach a deafening 188 decibels. Total silence is 0 decibels, while a lawnmower comes in at 90 dB, a car horn at 110 dB, and a rock concert at 120 dB.

Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday said, Guinness World Records is a veritable cat-alogue of fantastic felines, and Smokey is a welcome addition to the family. Its incredible to think that a cats purr can be as loud as a vacuum cleaner!

In this video, Smokey struts her purring stuff:

[Sources: Christian Science Monitor and Guinness World Records]

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