Can you imagine talking on the phone or watching a movie, only to be interrupted because your cat was purring too loudly? A few weeks ago we met Stewie, the world's longest domestic cat, and recently I had the opportunity to get the scoop on Smokey, another extraordinary feline who currently holds the Guinness Record for having world's loudest PURR!
I thought my cats made a lot of noise when they were content (I always joke that Priscilla sounds like she's making coffee, and it's hard to even describe the weird noises that come out of Charlie), but Smokey's motor is so significant, it competes with the level of sound you would get from a hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, or even a lawn mower!
The purring pussycat's owner Ruth recently took the time to answer some of my questions all the way from England, and revealed the inside story on how the incredible record came about, Smokey's recently released autobiography, and more!
Hello, Ruth! Please tell us a little about Smokey. How old is she, and how did she come into your life?
Smokey is a rehomed rescue cat and we are her 8th home. She has been in our family for around 3 years and we believe that she is now aged around 12 years old, but as she has no pedigree papers we can only give an age estimate. She came with a shy black companion cat called Sooty. We believe Smokey to be a British Shorthair and Persian mix.
When did you first realize she was different from other cats?
Smokey came from a rehoming animal shelter called NANNA located near Northampton in England. When we collected her we were told about a few of her previous adventures and homes but details were all very vague.
We had previously had outdoor farm cats around the farm and Smokey and Sooty were going to be our first house based cats for my children, Amy and Jordan. As we were not used to having cats living in the house, and we knew that Smokey's purring was very loud but did not realise how unusual it was until visiting friends started to comment when she would start to drone out conversation with her happy humming.
In February this year a friend who volunteers for the Northampton branch of the UK national feline charity Cats Protection called around to ride out my daughter's pony with myself. Whilst riding I asked her what was happening in the cat world, and she told me all about the problems in trying to get the public to spay and neuter their cats. I was told that 1 unspayed female could lead to 45 in a year if her kittens had kittens. I was shocked. I suggested that as my cat had a very loud purr, it may be fun to hold a phone-in purr competition on the local BBC Radio Northampton radio station, and this would draw attention to the important spaying and neutering message.
From this very local idea, within a week Smokey's very loud purring was featured in every UK National Newspaper, and the TV Crews and radio interviews soon followed. Word spread fast and the story of the cat who purrs like a lawn mower went global. The media all wanted to know was Smokey the loudest purring cat on the planet, and I was persuaded to apply for the Guinness World Record for Purring. This was to prove far more difficult than I could ever have imagined.
In May, Smokey was certified as the loudest cat in the world by Guinness World Records for having a purr that measured 67.7 decibels. Can you tell me a little about what the certification process was like?
Guinness World Records operate under very strict guide lines and all readings have to be professionally taken, witnessed and video recorded.
The regulations included:
- A category 1 sound meter was required at a distance of 1 meter away with no background noise.
- The sound engineer was to have at least 3 years experience.
- Professional quality broadcastable video footage suitable for TV and photographs are to be taken.
- A vet or vet nurse should be present.
- Public notary witnesses e.g member of Parliament, doctor, solicitor - Three recommended, with each to produce witness statements.
- A decibel print out and report was to be supplied.
- And there were a lot of forms to fill in.
It is free to apply for a Guinness World Record, however you have to fund all the costs involved with organising the above.
Smokey was recorded at Purring at a level of 67.dB when measured at a distance of 1 meter away. This is louder than normal conversation and similar to a hairdryer, vacuum cleaner, or lawn mower. Imagine trying to watch TV with all that noise going on!
Has a vet been able to determine any official cause behind her unusually loud purr?
Smokey has been checked by several vets and they have no explanation for her unusually loud purr. There is nothing wrong with her medically. She does however have a very loose tummy which almost swings and sweeps the floor as she walks like a skirt or brush. When she purrs this loose tummy bellows in and out dramatically like an accordion so you can almost see the purring as well as hear it.
What's up next for Smokey? Is it true that she has a book coming out?
Smokey has written her autobiography Smokey the very Loud Purring Cat by Smokey and Ruth Adams. It is published by DB Publishing and retails for £6.99, available to order from book shops, Amazon, www.smokeythepurringcat.com or www.dbpublishing.co.uk.
Smokey has a pawtograph of her foot made so that she can stamp books. The book includes newspaper articles, illustrations from myself and lots of colour photographs. The book is amusing and covers Smokey's former homes (fictional part) and being discovered by the media and her two Guinness World Records attempts.
The book has been reviewed by Larry the Cat from Number 10 Downing street, and has a forward written by the RSPCA. There is also a chapter written by Craig Glenday, Editor in Chief of Guinness World Records, including other amazing animal records.
Smokey has made several public appearances and is at the moment the star attraction at the UK National Pet show LovePets. She has several book signings at local book shops. She has a few more Television shows lined up, and may be appearing on the Guinness World Records show in the future.
How does she feel about her newfound fame? Has being a world record holder gone to her head?
How has this changed Smokey? She is fatter from all the bribes of strips of ham I give her to purr and she now thinks that every time the telephone rings she should purr very loudly as she thinks it's time to purr for an interview and ham time. This can be very annoying.
How has this changed me. I am a lot poorer, and try and hide the mounting costs from my husband, but this has all been a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, real roller-coaster of experiences. Do I regret it? Some days yes, as it has totally taken over my life for the last six months with constant media interviews and work on the book, and had this not happened I would have been none the wiser and carried on with life as usual.
Special thanks to Ruth for taking the time out of her busy schedule to share Smokey's story with us! She is a gorgeous cat, and it's amazing that after being rehomed so often she is finally sitting pretty at 12, with a wonderful forever home, fame, and a world record under her little kitty belt!