This is one of the best cat chattering videos I have seen because there are two cats doing it in harmony 🙂 This is a very nice, high definition video of three cats, two of which chatter nicely. The third doesn’t want to participate.
The best explanation of this mysterious, and amusing to humans, feline behavior is that which is provided by Dr Desmond Morris the well-known British zoologist. I fully endorse his explanation. He says it has been described as a “tooth-rattling stutter”. Most observers describe it as chattering and thanks to the internet it has become well-known. There are a few explanations on the internet but none as good as Dr Morris’s. For example, catster.com says the cat is copying the bird. This is based on a study regarding monkeys. Sorry guys but that is not very good and it sounds hopelessly wrong to me.
Dr Morris calls it “vacuum activity”. I’ll quote if I may from his book “Catwatching” for the sake of clarity (please buy the book):
“The cat is performing its highly specialized killing bite, as if it already has the unfortunate bird clamped between its jaws…there is a peculiar jaw movement employed to bring about an almost instant death…the cat crunches down with its long canine teeth, aiming at the nape of the [bird’s] neck. With a rapid juddering movement of the jaws it inserts these canines into the neck, slipping them down between vertebrae to sever the spinal cord. This killing bite immediately incapacitates the prey and it is an enactment of the special movement that the frustrated, window-gazing cat is performing, unable to control itself at the tantalizing view of the juicy little bird outside.“
I have taken a great liberty in quoting Dr Morris extensively but it explains this feline behavior so beautifully. He says the killing bite is guided by the indentation in the body where the body joins the head. The cat feels that indentation and it helps to guide him. In the dark the cat’s whiskers ‘feel’ the position where to bite.