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.
I started teaching Dirk to give paw a few months ago and we have now progressed to one knock = right paw and two knocks = left paw. Of course he makes mistakes occasionally, but overall he is pretty good at giving me the paw I’m asking for.
When I first started training Dirk I noticed he has a slight preference to use his left paw. He would always use that oe first and also uses it most frequently. He also uses his left paw most when playing with his puzzle feeders (though he does switch to right paw as well).
Intrigued by his paw preference I started looking into research about domestic cats and left- or right-pawedness and found a very interesting research paper on this topic. Obviously, food was involved in testing the cats as participation needs to be rewarding for them too 😉 However, even that could not convince all cats to participate as 3 out of 41 cats tested did not move a paw at all. Of the other 38 cats, 10 were right-pawed, 12 left-pawed and 16 were ambilateral: they showed no preference for either left or right paw.
The study showed that cats with a clear paw preference, either left or right, were better at solving the food puzzles than those cats that did not have a paw preference. The cats with a paw preference found their way to the food a lot quicker with fewer paw movements.
The researchers discovered that domecats actually preferred opening the food puzzles with their head rather than paw. Those that had a head preference opened fewer sections of the puzzle feeder than those with a paw preference. This means that cats that perfer to use their paws possibly have better motor skills and problem-solving skills than those that prefer using their heads. One possible explanation that some cats have a head preference may be related to domestication: we tend to feed our cats from bowls which does not require any motor skills from the cat.
Does it matter whether a cat is left-pawed or right-pawed, ambilateral or prefers to use their head? In a domestic cat probably not, but perhaps this research gets us one step closer to proving just how intelligent cats are 😉
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).
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!
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 🙂