Friday, November 18, 2011

The Mousie Howl...Caught On Film!

Firstly, yes, I am still alive! Life just got very busy for a while there (I'm back to working again, yay!) and I just fell out of the habit of making any sort of regular updates.

That said...since I've been away so long I figured my first "hey I'm back" post had to be EPIC. And...well, while the video below is by far not the most epic example of what it depicts that I've every seen, it's the first-ever footage I've ever managed to secure of Cora making the Mousie Howl.

Basically, it's this sort of...repetitive MRRWOWOWOWOW! MRRWOWOWOWOW! MRRWOWOWOWOW! thing. My friend Amanda reminded me of it when we were on Skype chat recently and we (as in, the two humans) ended up cracking ourselves up ridiculously trying to imitate the noise. Her cat does it too sometimes and I've heard of a few others that do as well so it may not be THAT weird, but it's still rare to be able to capture it. Usually when Cora sees me looking at her mid-howl she drops the toy and looks at me like, "What? Nothing to see here..."

...anyhow, though, from an evolutionary standpoint I am *fairly* certain this noise is hunting-related, though in their cattish way, cats who employ it probably add their own individualized meaning and purpose to it. To me it comes across as being something like "CHECK OUT MY AWESOMENESS FOR I HAVE PROCURED A DINNER!" I could also plausibly see it being related to something mother cats would do when nearing the nest, so their kittens would know they were coming. And in some contexts it almost comes across as a (probably mild or even mocking) *threat*, e.g., "Keep it up and you're next!"

But of course, all that is just speculation. I fully expect Cora has other reasons for doing what she does that simply don't translate to human. It's just such an interesting, specific noise, though, that I'm sure it means *something*!

EDIT: Found another cat on Youtube making a similar noise...while playing with what appears to be a REAL dead mouse! Of course she's doing this on what appears to be her human's bed, too. :P



    I have always wondered why they lick the toy mousies.

  2. When my cat makes this noise I have to go find her mouse or she won't shut up. She usually leaves it in the hallway or by our bed. Sometimes there is an actual dead mouse attached to it so if she starts howling while I am sleeping I worry and step lightly. There's nothing worse than stepping on disemboweled mouse with your bare foot in the middle of then night.

  3. CPP: A lot of toy mice come pre-loaded with catnip (either the factory stuffs some leaves inside, or the fabric is doused in catnip oil). I grow my own catnip, and whenever I rub it on a toy the kitties generally line up to slobber all over it. They don't lick "untreated" toys, though, at least not usually.

    That said, I have known a number of cats who just have oddball oral fixations. My BFF-from-high-school's cat likes to chew on shiny plastic, and Shadow has a thing for rubber (no, really). I once caught him on the couch with a rubber mallet (the kind you use to bang the lids on paint cans), licking the bangy part like it was made of ice cream.

  4. Audrey: EEEW, wow, yeah, disembowled mice and bare feet were NOT meant to go together. We've had rats in the yard / on the patio recently (the summer vegetable garden is in its death throes and lots of seeds are dropping, etc.) and the cats have been going nuts watching them out the window, but so far no rodents have made their way into the house.

    I'm sure if I had a cat flap there would be plenty of "presents", though, and I would more than likely end up stepping in them given that my guys already have a penchant for leaving "killed" toys right in the middle of doorways and walkways!

  5. CPP: Does PhysioCat respond to catnip? All 4 of my kitties do, though in Nikki's case it makes her angry/aggressive (usually she'll whack whatever catnip-scented thing she comes across away from her). If she gets a massive whiff she gets silly for a while, though she looks very flustered and embarrassed if this happens. The other day she actually got a contact high because I was crumbling up some catnip leaves into a jar (I'd been drying the stuff in the garage so the kitties would have a winter supply). She didn't even need to TOUCH the catnip, she just rolled around and rubbed on the wall several feet away for a few minutes, then ran off looking rather pissed off. :P

    The others, though, all just get ridiculous. Especially Cora. One of her favorite things is when I stuff an old sock with catnip and tie the end. She'll roll around drooling on the sock until it turns into a disgusting soggy green tea-bag looking thing, then drag it around the house. Then she'll drop it somewhere and wait until it dries, then come back for more later. I swear it's like the cat equivalent of the grody spit-covered tennis ball that all dogs seem to have in their toy stash.

  6. Yeah, PhysioCat licks and snuggles against his catnip-filled toys, but they don't make him particularly crazy or anything. But I just checked out some of the mice that he loves to lick, and they seem to be made of rabbit fur covering a plastic core. Maybe they dip them in catnip juice or something?

  7. Fey definitely uses it as a threat. Either "You're gonna come next" or "I'm gonna kill you", but not entirely seriously, any more than we're serious about it. She does it and then does all her other "I'm displacing aggression" things like going for the scratching post while glaring at me and stuff.

  8. CPP: Some cats seem to like to lick *fur* (they lick their own, after all) so in addition to catnip that could explain the licking. Cora likes to chew on my hair whenever she can reach it, and I don't use catnip shampoo!

  9. Amanda: Yeah, from what you've described that sounds like a very Feyish use of that noise. Nikki very rarely does it but whenever she does it's usually accompanied by lots of frenzied running around the house and glaring (and often this comes after she's made it clear *something* is frustrating her).

    I wonder if in some cats, actions normally associated with hunting / capturing prey end up being turned toward the expression of other things. Fey and Nikki both seem like "cats with a strong sense of duty" and while again only they know for sure what they're thinking/feeling during the run-and-howl sessions, part of me can't help but wonder if there's a component of "YOU PEOPLE AREN'T LETTING ME DO MY JOB, ARGH!" sometimes.

  10. I've tried to imitate this sound too, but I don't think I can pull it off. I'm pretty good at cat sounds too.

    I didn't know it was about hunting, as I usually hear it from cats who are beyond my line of site. That makes a lot of sense, though.


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