If you have a cat, you’ve almost surely seen it “chatter” (I call it “machine-gunning”, a far better term), when they see a prey item like a bird. The cat below serves as an excellent example. But why do they do this? It would seem to be positively maladaptive since the cat’s noise might alert the prey to its presence. There are lots of theories, including one researcher’s idea that some South American felids do this to imitate (and fool) their tamarin-monkey prey, but domestic cats evolved from the African wildcat, not South American monkey-eaters.
In truth, we don’t know. CatHeath.com offers some alternative theories, including that the cat is mimicking the “kill bite” when it seizes prey, but that doesn’t sound likely. Frustration? Fooling birds? Excitement? Maybe, but who knows? Somebody should test these theories, if that’s even possible.
From Homer and Me we have one clue: an odd-eyed cat that is deaf and communicates largely by chattering. Deafness is a genetic condition in some white cats, and the incidence is increased when they have blue eyes. (The condition is caused by degeneration of the inner ear.) This cat has odd-colored eyes, and it’s possible that it can hear through the ear on the green-eye side, but I don’t think so given its vocalizations.
Anyway, here’s Milla, whose normal communication appears to involve machine-gunning:
Finally, if you’re really into weird stuff, you’ll know about Archie McPhee, a novelty store with headquarters in Seattle (I’ve visited). There’s lots of cool things to buy for yourself and your friends, but today I’m showing a few items from the “Crazy Cat Lady Gift Shop.” Click on the screenshots to see more.
and this bizarre Xmas ornament, featuring the Cone of Shame (why???):
And if you have $24.95 to spare, you can buy this rubber cat mask, which I suspect will scare the hell out of your moggie:
And although this isn’t cat related, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you the opportunity to buy this Darwin christmas ornament, now on sale for $9.95. Be sure to read the text!