Thursday 31 March 2022

Cat does 'vacuum activity' jaw chattering while attacking a fly!

This is unusual in some respects because normally we see what is described as "vacuum activity" when a full-time indoor cat is looking out the window at a bird and they are instinctively compelled to practice the bite on the nape of the neck of the bird to kill it. Because they can't get at the real thing the domestic cat instinctively chatters their jaw and Dr. Desmond Morris calls this "vacuum activity". 

It's called that because it occurs in a vacuum namely there is no actual prey item in the cat's jaws. Some people call this a "tooth-rattling stutter". I prefer jaw chattering but you can name it what you like.

Note: This is an embedded tweet. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

The cat that you see in the video who is stalking a little fly is performing a highly specialised killing bite as if the fly is within its jaws. Actually, the cat is behaving as if he or she is stalking a larger prey animal, normally a bird. If this was a genuine kill by a cat on a bird, his jaws would perform a "rapid juddering movement as he inserts his canines into the neck, slipping them down between vertebrae to sever the spinal cord.

Cat does 'vacuum activity' jaw chattering while attacking a fly!
Cat does 'vacuum activity' jaw chattering while attacking a fly! Screenshot.

Clearly, this can't happen with a fly as a prey animal because they haven't got a spinal cord! They have an exoskeleton instead 😉. This fly is the only prey animal available to this poor cat who is stuck indoors I suspect. 

I am all in favour of full-time indoor cats but one of the problems as is very apparent in this video is that cats don't get a chance to express their natural desires which more or less comes down to hunting.

So, when the best thing they've got to hunt is a fly the cat goes after it. Employing all the usual tricks to hunt a prey animal including stalking the fly along the carpet and then chattering his teeth in that version of vacuum activity and finally pouncing on the fly but failing to capture it.

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