Have you ever wondered why your cat makes odd, chattering noises when it sees birds or small animals? Or, as others on the Internet claim, "ekekekeke"! These unusual cat chatterings almost seem like they're trying to communicate with the birds, whether it's pent-up irritation or enthusiasm. And, as it turns out, the idea might not be so far-fetched.
Even the most indoor of domesticated cats retain innate hunting instincts, which are also the driving force behind a wide range of cat behaviors, both positive and negative. Chattering at birds is just one of those instinctive habits that your cat has. (Tip: Do you have a sluggish cat that enjoys chirping at birds? To activate those instincts, encourage and entice them to exercise with a flying teaser or wand toy that imitates the movement of birds!)
Trying to figure out why cats do what they do is a lot of guesswork, as it is with most things feline. Many behaviorists believe that a cat's chattering at a bird is a way for them to vent their feelings about not being able to capture food that is out of reach.
Others believe the unusual pattern of chirps and clacks is a reaction to the feline's adrenaline rush as it spots its prey.
Some behaviorists believe that a cat's chattering jaws are simulating the "death bite," and that cats are simply preparing for the final moment.
But it raises the question: why would an ambush predator relying on stealth make a noise that could jeopardize their hunt? We may be one step closer to understanding why cats chatter at birds thanks to a group of pied tamarin monkeys and a hungry wildcat.
Fabio Rohe of the Wildlife Conservation Society was observing a group of these pied tamarin monkeys in their natural habitat in Brazil's Amazon forests. When a wildcat prowled onto the scene, Rohe and his colleagues were capturing monkey vocalizations. The wildcat began imitating the monkeys' vocalizations and began making calls that were similar to theirs; this was the first time a wildcat in the Americas did so.
What is the key hypothesis? By imitating familiar sounds, cats might be lulling their prey into believing they aren't a threat. “I'm not bothering you! “I'm just another monkey!” exclaims the narrator. Or, for that matter, a bird! The monkeys in Rohes' study were almost duped, according to him.
Both cats, according to Rohe, might be able to imitate their prey's vocalizations. While cats are known for their physical hunting skills, he believes that the vocal exploitation of prey organisms demonstrates a level of cunning that warrants further investigation.
If your indoor-only cat is a bird watcher, setting up a bird feeder outside their favorite window to attract even more birds for viewing can be a brilliant idea! Set up a cat tree at the window if you don't want your cat to sit on your windowsills (or if they just won't fit).