Cody has an industrial-strength purr, something like the sound that huge heating and ventilation systems make when you're right next to them in the basement. If I close my eyes, I can imagine that the womb might sound something like this.
It makes me want to photograph him.
But Cody is the Heisenberg Principle incarnate. A cat who normally likes staring at me won't look at me holding a camera. So I have to surprise him.
Sibilants seem to work. I use them to call him in at night. A little hiss always makes him perk up for a moment. I wonder this is hard-wired into cats ... a universal sound of predators or prey in the grass.
His survival to his current age is amazing. He endured unknown numbers of days declawed and abandoned in a suburban trailer park before my mother's friend found him there, huddling under a van in the rain, yowling. Today, a decade later, he still has abandonment issues. And of course we can't imagine what the loss of front claws must feel like. We history- and future-minded guys may fret about castration, but for a present-minded cat, I doubt he notices what he lost in back. But something's missing in front, and it matters every day.
So he's more skittish than most cats, but can also be aggressive. I've seen him bluff his way through fights with other cats, getting them cornered and desperate without ever letting on that he doesn't have claws. He can also motivate me by forsaking the litter box. Indeed, he won his current right to be outdoors through a very effective strike action timed to embarrass me. He gets his needs met.
Up close with a person, he sniffs, then licks vigoriously for a few strokes. The lick is a miniature flogging. His tongue is a field of suction cups, all dragging abrasively across your skin. It keeps my nose shiny.