Why do cats chatter their teeth when they spot prey?

Many owners will have heard and seen their cat chattering when they spot prey. Indoor cats do it too even if they have never hunted.
So why do they do this? Is it because they can’t get to the prey?

In fact, this is normal hunting behaviour. Your cat’s instincts are kicking in – even if they have never hunted they still have those instincts. Experts used to believe cats were excited or frustrated when they chatter or that they were mimicking their prey’s sounds. Cats hunt for a large variety of prey, though, and most of them sound nothing like a cat’s chattering.
Most experts now think that the chattering jaw movements are similar to the killing bite. Your cat is eagerly anticipating having a good bite.

Perhaps we can satisfy indoor cats by giving them a toy to chase & catch after the prey has left and give the cat a treat 😉

I think the noise is very funny. I laugh whenever I hear Dirk do it and it’s usually when he sees birds nearby (pigeons seem to love teasing him by sitting on the balcony railing).

 

Catnip: its other effect

Research has found that there is more to catnip than just its crazy effect!

We all know our cats can go crazy for catnip: drooling, rubbing, licking, etc. Research by Uenoyama et al (2021) has found that this is not its only effect though. Both catnip and silver vine also function as mosquito repellants. How does that work?

The main component of both catnip and silver vine that elicits rubbing behaviour is called nepolactol. When cats rub against or roll over catnip or silver vine nepetalactol is transferred from the plant to the cat’s face. The researchers found that mosquitoes avoided the faces/heads of those cats that had rubbed their faces against catnip or silver vine. It thus works as a natural mosquito repellant. This research therefore suggests there may be a biological reason for this behaviour and that it is not solely related to feelings of euphoria.

To read the study yourtself, click here,

Scratch, scratch, scratch

As a cat owner few things are more annoying then your cat not using their scratching post but instead scratching your bed, sofa, carpet, wallpaper or really anything BUT the scratching post! I know all about it, because Dirk and I went through quite a few climbing trees and scratch boards until we finally found some options that we are both happy with. Dirk was fairly persistent in his sofa, chairs, carpet and bed scratching behaviour, but we’ve now mostly tackled the issue (although he does still scratch the bed in the morning as a means to get me to feed him).

The first scratching tree I got Dirk was a fairly small one and not all that sturdy. He is a big cat and needed something bigger. So that’s what he got!

I loved this scratching barrel, it looked very sleek and had levels inside so Dirk could climb inside and hide. Dirk loved sleeping in it, but hardly ever used it as a scratching post. He still used the carpets, sofa and chairs instead…

I figured he might like some horizontal scratching surfaces as well as some thinner scratching posts. In came the scratching pads and sisal poles, but with limited success. Dirk used them, but rather in addition to his other “scratching posts” (by now you know which ones I mean).

I don’t give up that easily though and realised that part of the appeal when scratching carpets and sofa was the fact he was destroying them: pieces of fabric came off. Perhaps he would be happier if I gave him a scratcher that he could shred?

Luckily, he really likes his cardboard scratchers, both to scratch (or shred) and sleep on!

Dirk also loves the most recent addition, which is a floor to ceiling climbing tree. He actually uses it to scratch, climb and sleep and has left the sofa and chairs alone since the tree’s introduction (knock on wood).

If you want advice about which type of scratching post to choose, then check out this brilliant article by International Cat Care.

Why do cats chatter their teeth when they spot prey?

Many owners will have heard and seen their cat chattering when they spot prey. Indoor cats do it too even if they have never hunted.
So why do they do this? Is it because they can’t get to the prey?

In fact, this is normal hunting behaviour. Your cat’s instincts are kicking in – even if they have never hunted they still have those instincts. Experts used to believe cats were excited or frustrated when they chatter or that they were mimicking their prey’s sounds. Cats hunt for a large variety of prey, though, and most of them sound nothing like a cat’s chattering.
Most experts now think that the chattering jaw movements are similar to the killing bite. Your cat is eagerly anticipating having a good bite.

Perhaps we can satisfy indoor cats by giving them a toy to chase & catch after the prey has left and give the cat a treat 😉

I think the noise is very funny. I laugh whenever I hear Dirk do it and it’s usually when he sees birds nearby (pigeons seem to love teasing him by sitting on the balcony railing).

Dirk’s unusual game with Peek-a-Bird

* Originally written by me for katzenworld.co.uk

We all know that cats don’t always do what we want or expect them to do. For me, that’s part of what I like about them: they are not as docile or obedient as some other pets. They very much have a mind of their own and can be very particular about things.

Dirk is – frankly – pretty docile but even he doesn’t always do what I want him to do or play with a toy quite the way it was intended… PetSafe’s Peek-a-Bird is one such example.

The Peek-a-Bird has openings on either side and when switched on a feather appears randomly from either side so your cat can chase it. Sometimes it appears on the same side twice in a row so it is not possible for your cat to predict on which side the feather will appear next. The feather moves around for a bit before retreating to entice your cat to hunt for it.

A play session lasts for 10 minutes after which the toy switches off automatically. You can also activate and ‘all day’ mode. The toy then switches on for 10 minutes at a time every two hours. Even better: it also switches on when the sensor picks up movement from your cat. Basically, your cat will have a toy that switches on whenever they want to play! I absolutely love that idea.

As I said, though, Dirk had other ideas of how to play with the toy!

When switched on, Dirk keeps watching it and also tries to bite the feather, but he does not chase the feather much. However, as soon as the bird switches off he wants to play with the bird itself. He does sometimes try and get the feather out of the toy when it’s switched off, but his main focus is giving the bird a good kicking.

He’ll kick it around the floor or the rug and also seems to like kicking it back and forth with me. Should perhaps not have been too much of a surprise as he is named after a football player 😉

But in any case, that is not what I expected him to do at all. When the Peek-a-Bird is on the floor somewhere he’ll walk over to it when he wants to play with me and starts pushing or kicking it towards me.

Peek-a-Bird also comes with a spare feather in case the first one becomes too damaged to play with. Knowing most cats are mad about feathers (Dirk is too with some of his other toys) it’s good that PetSafe included a spare one. However, it would be even better if they start selling extra spare feathers as I can imagine some cats will quickly go through both.

My guess is that cats will either love Peek-a-Bird or ignore it and whether or not your cat will like it may be difficult to predict. I’d recommend it to owners of kittens or cats that enjoy hide-and-seek style games.