A recent discovery about wildcat hunting techniques has brought new light to a well-known behavior in domestic catsP cat chattering. A group of scientists doing fieldwork in the Amazon forests of Brazil were recording the vocalizations of a group of pied tamarin monkeys, when a wildcat showed up and started making calls identical to those of the monkeys. This was the first recorded instance of a wildcat in the Americas mimicking the calls of its prey. researcher Fabio Rohe, who worked on the monkey project, suspects all cats can copy the calls of their prey. Cats are known for their physical agility, but this vocal manipulation of prey species indicates a physical cunning which merits further study, he says. Even the most domesticated of cats still have hunting instincts, and behaviors related to those instincts surface from time to time. One of these is chattering, which generally happens when a cat sees a bird or a rodent outside a window. Cat chattering usually begins with a bird loudly chirping near a cat. The cat becomes riveted to the bird. After just a minute, the cat will then start to tweet and chatter, its mouth moving in sync with the birds beak.
There are a few theories about why domestic cats chatter when hunting, says certified cat behavior consultant Marilyn Krieger, also known as The Cat Coach. The reasons that make sense to me are that they chatter in anticipation or they chatter when frustrated. Another probable reason for this is that they are chattering in response to the surge of adrenalin. The word chatter implies meaningless sounds, but Rohes work in the Amazon indicates that the sounds could mean a lot more to the intended prey than previously thought. The monkeys in his study were nearly fooled, and many feral cats succeed in catching birds with the chatter technique. YouTube is full of most of which simply show cats making unusual, human-like sounds when they are annoyed by something or they are about to expel a hairball. But
that is obviously imitating birds it sees outside its window. Has your cat ever tried to talk to the birds? Do they stare out the window with sheer determination and chatter and chirp away as a bird or bug flutters just outside their reach? Is it anticipation? Frustration? Or is your catPsimply a copycat? The chattering or chirping sound that cats makePis still something of a mystery, as the true meaning behind this strange vocalization is not entirely understood.
Although, can we as humans ever really say that we understand why cats do the things they do? There are various theories on why exactly cats chatter and chirp at prey-like creatures (or objects that trigger their hunting instinct, like the infamous red dot of aP ). Chattering is thought to be a cat sPexpression of excitement, frustration, or an outlet for the surge of gotta pounce! adrenaline. Cat behaviorists the cat s chomping movement is the same action as the killing bite it would use to take down its prey. Dr. PKathryn Primm, the resident vet and cat columnist for, writes that cat chatter mayPhave more to do with feline anatomy than feelings. Cats have modified scent glands on the roof of their mouths that help them better identify smells. If your cat has ever sniffed your foot and proceeded to stare at you with wide-eyed and mouth agape, that s not your cat letting you know your foot stinks. He is drawing air across his specialized scentPglands in what s called a Flehmen response. So when your cat starts chirping and chattering when it sets its sights on prey, it may well be a modified Flehmen response.
Your cat is attempting to catch the scent of their prey, thinking, I can see aPbird,Pbut can t smell a bird. What s going on here? Wildlife researchers might be one step closer to figuring out why cats talk to the birds: it may be used as a cunning, deceptive hunting technique. Fabio Rohe of the Wildlife Conservation SocietyPwas on a research trip in the Amazon, observing a troop of pied tamarin monkeys. The monkeys were calling to each other when researchers observed a margay stalking through the undergrowth, imitating the call of a baby pied tamarin monkey. This was the first recorded instance of a wildcat in the Americas mimicking the calls of its prey. that he s unaware of any other predators in the world using vocal mimicry as a hunting tool. Rohe, who worked on the margay project, suspects all felines could have the copycat ability. Cats are known for their physical agility, but this vocal manipulation of prey species indicates a physical cunning which merits further study, he says. Does your little wildcat cat chatter or chirp when they are hunting birds?