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.

Why do cats lick, wash or rub your face?

Cats wash or lick other members of their social group, the cats they are close to. This behaviour reinforces the bond and creates a “familiar group scent”.

When cats live with people these people become their social group. If your cat licks you it means they are showing you affection and this behaviour strengthens the bond between you from the cat’s perspective. Enjoy the cat love!

Cats’ personalities: do they become like their owners?

I think most of you are familiar with pictures joking about the physical similarities between owners and their pets. Do pets start to look like their owners or did the owner choose a pet that looks like them?
The more interesting question is whether owners’ and pets’ characters are similar. Research suggests cats and owners strongly influence each other’s behaviour, especially if the cat lives indoor only and if the owner is a woman!

The study also showed that cats remember when they are treated kindly and this directly affects how they react to their owners’ wishes. Cats were more likely to respond to their owner’s request for affection when that person had taken care of their needs in the past.

“A relationship between a cat and a human can involve mutual attraction, personality compatibility, ease of interaction, play, affection and social support,” said co-author Dorothy Gracey of the University of Vienna. “A human and a cat mutually develop complex ritualized interactions that show substantial mutual understanding of each other’s inclinations and preferences.”

While cats have plenty of male admirers, and vice versa, this study and others reveal that women tend to interact with their cats… more than men do.

“In response, the cats approach female owners more frequently, and initiate contact more frequently (such as jumping on laps) than they do with male owners,” co-author Manuela Wedl of the University of Vienna told Discovery News, adding that “female owners have more intense relationships with their cats than do male owners.”

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Why does my cat bring me dead mice?

If your cat goes outside then you’ve probably seen them bring home a dead mouse or two… I know it is perfectly normal cat behaviour but I really don’t like dead mice or birds.

It is often said that this is a gift because your cat loves you; however, giving gifts to show love is a human thing to do. Cats do not give other cats gifts.

Mother cats do teach kittens how to hunt and therefore may bring them a dead mouse, or one they haven’t killed yet, to teach them. I don’t think the cat is trying to teach you to catch mice; cats do not see the humans they live with as ‘sort of cats’. Plus, bringing home dead mice is behaviour displayed by male cats as well and also by females that have never had kittens.

Then why do they do it?

A cat’s instinct to hunt is very strong: they hunt even when they are not hungry or do not depend on eating prey to survive. If the cat is not actually hungry they may take the prey home to eat it later. Their instinct is to return to a safe place within their territory to eat.

So it’s not really a gift, but then it sort of is. Your cat is telling you that your home is a safe place for them 🙂

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I much prefer this type of mouse 😉