A 12-year-old cat in England holds the Guinness World Record for the “Loudest Purring Cat.” Smokey, a silver tabby with striking markings, was adopted by Ruth Adams about three years ago, when Adams was looking for an older cat who would be content with staying mostly indoors. Smokey greeted Adams as soon as she stepped into her cage at the shelter, walking toward her with her tail held high, rubbing against her legs, and purring. Very loudly.
Smokey, and her shy black companion Sooty, quickly settled into the Adams’ home. And Smokey kept on purring. “Her purr resembles a cooing dove stuck in her throat,” says Adams. “Sometimes she purrs so loudly it makes her cough and splutter.”
Just how loud is Smokey’s purr? After suggesting a purring competition on a local radio station to help spread the spay neuter message for Cats Protection, the UK’s leading feline welfare charity, Smokey’s purr was measured at 80-85 decibels, the equivalent of a lawn mower, a vacuum cleaner, or a Boeing airplane coming in for a landing from a mile away.
Adams decided to submit an application to Guinness World Records, and after multiple trials conducted in Smokey’s home under the supervision of a veterinarian to ensure that Smokey wasn’t unduly stressed, Smokey was recognized as having achieved the “loudest purr by a domestic cat.” The process from application to worldwide fame took 15 weeks.
A typical day for Smokey still involves purring the family awake at the first opportunity and requesting immediate feeding. After breakfast and a short outdoor toilet break (she has a cat door, but, as befits her status as world famous cat, prefers that the door is opened for her), Smokey retires to her favorite window sill for a thorough bath. She then follows Ruth Adams to the computer and assists with her work, often by trying to sit on the keyboard.
Smokey’s favorite past time is stealing socks from Adams’ bedroom. She talks to the socks while depositing them all over the house, but does not return them.
At lunchtime, Smokey will move to the kitchen and use her impressive purr in hopes that Adams will accidentally drop something while she prepares her own lunch.
After finishing her evening meal, Smokey immediately forgets that she has eaten and proceeds to purr loudly while Adams prepares the family’s dinner, begging for more treats. In the evenings, Smokey joins the family in the living room to watch television. “She rather resembles a piece of overripe brie cheese as her stomach “pours” over the arm of the chair,” says Adams. Smokey’s loud purr often drowns out the sound of the TV.
Smokey has attended several fund raising events for Cats Protection and the RSPCA. Adams has also taken Smokey to talk to local school children. “I want to capture children’s imaginations,” says Adams, “and I think the mix of a cat and Guinness World Records can stimulate their creativity so they can tell their own stories.” Despite being world famous, Smokey does not receive any income or sponsorship, and Adams is a long way from recovering the cost incurred for setting the Guinness World Record.
Adams hopes that sales of Smokey’s book Smokey: The Very Loud Purring Cat will help with expenses, but more than that, she wants the book to draw attention to feline issues and promote the welfare of cats. “Smokey’s story seemed so amazing to me,” says Adams. “It’s one of those ‘poor kitty makes good’ stories that simply had to be told.” The book is a mixture of fiction and fact. Told by Smokey herself, the first part is fiction, since, says Adams, “we’ll never really know what happened in her former homes and lives.” The second part is fact-based and describes how Smokey’s talent was discovered through promoting animal welfare messages. The book received a glowing review from another famous British feline, Larry the Downing Street cat.
Smokey is taking her celebrity in stride. “Aside from putting on some weight from all the bits of yummy ham bribes we use during Smokey’s purr training sessions, she hasn’t changed at all,” says Adams. “She just believes that it’s purrfectly normal for her to be adored.”
For more information and pictures, please visit Smokey the Purring Cat.
Photo courtesy of Alistair Tait and Ruth Adams. This article was originally published in the June 2012 issue of Cat Fancy magazine under the title One Happy Cat. The article won a Certificate of Excellence from the Cat Writers Association.