Joey’s noises

Joey’s pitiful miaowing, mewing and other assorted cries have been very present in the soundscape of today.

His miaow is uncertain & needy; a high, thin sound.

I feel a bit bad about today’s SOUND BANK entry, since it doesn’t so much describe the actual sound of Joey’s miaows as well as it could, and I am not sure that Joey’s miaow is really needy in and of itself… I think when we first had him he followed me around the house a lot and in between weaving himself around my ankles constantly, made these little noises all the time. I clearly wrote this SOUND BANK entry in a bit of an irritated mood; probably one caused by my trying to record some tiny sound or other, and Joey’s constant interventions ruining my efforts!

I also am uncertain about the title of the saved sound, since Joey’s noises are very various and have become an important part of family life in Mark’s house, and he does a great number of noise-making things besides miaowing. He has a really disturbing growly/screeching noise that he does when defending his cat-flap against other cats or fighting with them, he has a lovely purr that he does when he decides to grace your lap with his illustrious presence. He also has a very insistent, clear miaowing sound that he makes as a sort of announcement when he is entering the room or has killed a mouse. I have also nicknamed him Thunderpaws because of the sound that he makes when he is coming up the stairs, and he makes a fantastic noise when he sharpens his claws on the stairs carpet; it is an amazingly spiky, stacatto sound.

I think one of the best things about Joey, however, is how well he does silence. When you think of the racket a dog makes when it is sleeping or just being in the room with you, a cat is comparatively noiseless. When he is not coming up the stairs at speed, Joey pads around the house silently and with great delicacy; I love the dampening or dimming effect that his soft, pink, furry paws have on the sound of his walking. And when he sleeps, he makes himself very small and very quiet. Well sometimes. At other times, he makes himself very long and stretched out and very quiet.

So I would like to add to the SOUND BANK entry on Joey’s noises that there is also a very particular silence that he also seems to generate or emulate when he is about the house, being a quiet presence or sleeping nearby. I must also admit that when I hear him scuffling with the big Tomcat who lives up the road, the noise evokes a strangely maternal protective instinct in me. And this reminds me of all the nonverbal ways that creatures communicate with one another, and all the soft, animalistic meanings that we ascribe to those sounds.

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