Household cats exercise this control with a certain type of urgent-sounding, high-pitched meow, according to the findings.
This meow is actually a purr mixed with a high-pitched cry. While people usually think of cat purring as a sign of happiness, some cats make this purr-cry sound when they want to be fed. The study showed that humans find these mixed calls annoying and difficult to ignore.
...McComb suggests that the purr-cry may subtly take advantage of humans' sensitivity to cries they associate with nurturing offspring. Also, including the cry within the purr could make the sound "less harmonic and thus more difficult to habituate to," she said.
Now I want to see a study done comparing the "manipulative meow" used by house cats to the one used by girlfriends and wives.
The full Yahoo News article can be found here.