Caturday felids: bizarre behaviors

September 10, 2010 • 10:08 am

For those of you not of the Gallic persuasion, parkour is an activity practiced by fit and adventurous urban kids.  Making their way through a town, they vault obstacles, leap from promontory to promontory, climb up walls (and bounce off of them), and generally use environmental features to get from point A to point B by the most direct route. It’s a combination of gymnastics and rock climbing, and was the subject of an engrossing article in The New Yorker in 2007.

It’s better shown than described; here’s a video displaying parkour in action.  It’s not easy!

But the main point of this, of course, is to show that kittehs do it too!  Here are some parkouring felids:

I’ve never heard a cat vocalize quite like this.  It sounds like a combination of the squeaky voice cats use when talking to their owners, combined with the chattering noise—also called “machine-gunning”—that cats make when they see a bird.  We’ll have more on machine-gunning, and why cats do it, in a future edition.

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h/t: Matthew Cobb (again)

17 thoughts on “Caturday felids: bizarre behaviors

  1. I have mixed feelings about the “Cat Parkour” video. Sure, it’s cool, but then some of the images are CGI, from a cat food commercial. Oh, hum. And for anyone who understands French, the song is a mood-killer: it’s all about the sorrows and hardships of life.
    Oh, well, at least, we get to see some awesome cat moves.

  2. I’ve always been intrigued by this “machine-gun” noise. Is’t a good detection alarm (“bug in the house! bird on the fence!”)

    Provided that no dissection is needed I’d like to know more about that 😉 so I’ll eagerly wait for this future post.

    1. I’m eager as well. I have seen my cats do the ‘machine-gunning’ many times but I could never figure out what (if any) purpose it served.

  3. Those parkour kids are amazing, but I wince when I think how many of those jumps must fail and the sort of injuries that must be fairly common.

    Thanks for the cat parkour, too. Our cats (now adopted by friends as we didn’t want to put them through the 6-month UK quarantine when we moved) used to do the “bounce off the wall” trick when running around the house.

  4. Can’t get enough of Parkour; if it’d been around when I was a kid, I’d have paid more attention in gym class. I think it’d make a great addition to the Summer Olympics; though I have no idea how they’d set up the course.

  5. Hehe, I took parkour classes for two years… I’m still just barely able to do a few vault types over a bike rack, but I’ve learned better balance at least and can get myself over a 10 foot wall. That video… those people are nuts and I’d never even *want* to get that good, haha.

    And the cats – pretty cool, but some clips appeared fake.

    Looking forward to hearing more about cat vocalizations, my roommate’s cat makes some strange noises!

  6. So basically a bunch of animals doing stuff and a bit of animal communication. Cool!

    It would be interesting to get the hairless two legged variety to perform with a group of their hairy ancestors in attendance to see if they would mimic or try to teach. The interaction could be interesting.

  7. I wish my 56 year old knees could hold up to 1/10 of that. I guess I’ll just stick to hikes for creaky knees, probably not a big hit on YouTube.

  8. “cats use talking to their owners”

    I’m sure I don’t really have to point out the somewhat comical misconception in this piece of text. Cats and their ‘owners’? Come ON!

  9. I’m amazed at what humans can do – sometimes we seem such strange and unexpectedly physically adaptable creatures: swimming, free diving, parkour, marathon running etc etc. Makes my knees hurt just to watch some of that stuff though. My cat ‘yammers’ at the dog sometimes – seems to scare him too.

  10. Cats do that all the time. Some silly ones even do that with trees then don’t come down and have to be rescued. I knew of a few that had been starving for days because they wouldn’t come down (so much for the idea that they’ll come down when they’re hungry enough).

    I used to do that trick climbing between two walls that are close together; I thought I’d demonstrate it to a friend a few years ago and I failed miserably; I could barely get myself to my own height. I’m not too keen on vaulting barbed wire fences anymore either – something I used to do without a thought back on a farm. Now I’m paranoid that I’ll get caught on the wire (which happened long ago but that didn’t stop me back then).

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