It's Caturday? NONONONO.

By Phil Plait | October 1, 2011 7:00 am

I know this cat is unhappy, and I know it was probably really really upset, and I know I shouldn’t laugh at this.

But I did. A lot.

I’m a terrible person.

Tip o’ the hairball to my pal Chris Pirillo. Follow him on Google+.


Related posts:

Caturday: the demon on the couch
Caturday napping
Caturday night’s all right for fighting: Part 2
Big Caturday

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Caturday, Humor, Pretty pictures
MORE ABOUT: Chris Pirillo

Comments (58)

  1. JT

    Is that John Boehner’s cat?

  2. Leopold

    My brain says NONONONO, but my heart says YESYESYESYES. Thanks for making my morning, Phil!

  3. sophia8

    Sorry Phil, I’m not laughing. That’s an animal in some obvious distress. I haven’t got a cat, but I grew up with them and most of my friends and neighbours have cats. I’ve learned enough Cat from them to say simple things like “Hallo, I’m friendly” and “OUT!”, but I’ve never ever heard a cat make sounds like that. The way it keeps having to stop for breath and lick its lips makes me wonder if it has a problem with its mouth or throat. An angry or frightened cat will open it’s mouth wide to show some teeth; but this one doesn’t, even though it’s giving all the other signs.

  4. Chris

    @1 JT
    I don’t believe so. If you look at the profile of the uploader, he is from Russia, so most likely no. nonononono.

  5. Ron1

    Sorry Phil, I agree with sophia 8 — it’s not funny at all! There’s something very wrong with this situation.

  6. Dennis

    You’re not a terrible person, the people who taunted that cat for the sake of entertainment are.

  7. Burtcom

    From the posture and the smacking sound. Id say the cat was trying to get up a hairball. The sound is a bit unusual from the normal hacking, but there you go.

  8. Alex

    Here’s a similarly oratory cat, but one who is in less distress: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl5Pfc5TyO0&NR=1

  9. Marrec

    Cats make all kinds of funny noises for all kinds of reasons, it doesn’t have to be some horrible situation, so don’t feel bad for laughing. Besides, it’s funny when we don’t even have to TRY to anthropomorphize animals.

  10. Chris

    Phil, there is term for what you have. Schadenfreude. Pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.

  11. Daniel J. Andrews

    I just don’t get Caturdays. Maybe I haven’t been infected with toxoplasmosis yet though. Not sure if being infected makes you want to post videos of cats or rush to their defense every time someone else posts videos of cats. I must just lack the cat sense of humour (although I did find the ninja cat with the Inception music amusing).

  12. Jens

    Caturday posts are wonderful. Not as awsome as regular posts, but still worth a watch.

  13. Melissa

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!

  14. Jens

    On an unrelated note, it has always ticked me off that ESA’s public outreach has been all but non-existant. As the European equivalent of NASA and as an institution so dependent on public funding, this lack has always worried (and puzzled) me. Today I found that there are actually blogs on the various missions of ESA: http://blogs.esa.int/

    No one’s ever heard of them, but at least they exist.

  15. Solitha

    I put my own cat to sleep just over 2 months ago. The memory is still capable of making me cry.

    Nevertheless… geez people, lighten up a little. The cat’s not being hurt; they even obviously try to soothe it (which I thought was going to end up with a bite there). It’s not trapped and appears to have places to escape to. It just sees something it very obviously does NOT like and is leaving no doubt as to its feelings. The only thing I can see they could have done is to remove whatever is causing the reaction… and we don’t know what’s causing the reaction.

    @Sophia8, nose-licking is a normal stress reaction. The breathing is because… well, the cat’s basically yelling. The fact that you’ve never heard a cat make this sort of noise before is exactly why the video is posted – it’s an odd and unusual sound, but Youtube is full of cats that can make odd and unusual sounds. There are also a couple of times the cat makes a standard hiss, but apparently it finds its issues more easily expressed in vocalization.

    I find it amusing as another example of the surprises animals can spring on us, even when we think we know them so well.

  16. Solitha (15): Sorry about your cat. We all know how tough that is. :(

    And you’re exactly right. The cat is not being tortured or forced to sit through something it doesn’t like. They are trying to soothe it, but it’s clearly unhappy with the new girl in the house. It’s clean and groomed and obviously well-cared-for. If I thought for a second it was really being abused I wouldn’t have run with this video.

    And I’m still laughing. I love cats, and one of the reasons is because they’re so opinionated.

  17. Robin Byron

    I’ve heard toms make this same vocalization in territorial disputes many times.

    As an infant, I was guarded by a very large tomcat named Ginger who owned all of Ocean Beach, San Diego.

  18. I believe it was Mel Brooks who said “Comedy is you falling down a 10 foot hole. Tragedy is me stubbing my toe”. Phil is not delighting in the cat’s fear and distress, he is experiencing a natural human response to a curious new stimulus, in this case the – what do you call auditory pareidolia? – anthropomorphic interpretation of a cat sound as nonononononono, which is a funny sound. Nor is he saying “hey, look at this cat, isn’t it hilarious that it’s in obvious distress?”
    Phil clearly says “I shouldn’t laugh, but I did.” That’s not schadenfreude. That’s honesty.

  19. Zeke

    People love to force imagined tales of horror and oppression onto scenes they see when they don’t know the full story. Maybe someone has already devised a term for this psychological tendency of pre-emptive outrage.

    I understand not wanting to endorse animal abuse, but this video hardly indicates that’s going on. If you’ve ever owned a cat you’d know that they do tons of things that, taken out of context, could be mislabeled as proof of some hideous mistreatment.

  20. KC

    That is just creepy!

  21. ceramicfundamentalist

    i just don’t think it’s funny.

  22. gia

    The cat IS upset but the first 10-20 seconds it is indeed very funny. But afterwards it’s just nasty, there was no reason for the owner to prolong this so much just so he could record it. It’s just pointless and it could’ve been cut much, much shorter while still being funny.

  23. John Sandlin

    I felt pain watching this. I didn’t watch it all the way through.

  24. kevbo

    It it actually saying “bah bah bah bah” or “fah fah fah fah”?

  25. My reaction was aligned with gia (@22) and John (@23).

    – Jack

  26. I have three cats right now. I have been owned by cats since I was 8 or 9, and am now in my 50s.

    Dudes. Lighten up. There’s a new cat in the house, or a new puppy behind a baby gate in another room. This cat is angry and upset, but there’s not much you can do about it except try soothing it (like they did for a while) and then just shrugging and getting on with life, getting the new animal settled in and letting the formerly only-cat settle down, which it will in a few days. Oh, yeah, and video-ing the performance, because, frankly, when a cat does this it’s…well…hilarious. (So long as the cat doesn’t explode into a cartoon-like ball of whirling fur with claws out attacking the newbie, and any human who gets in the way.)

    Seriously, I’m surprised so many folks are weirded out and upset by it. The humans aren’t doing anything except taping it. The response is very common in cats introduced to a new animal in *their* turf. You expose the two animals, then separate them again. Then expose them to each other again, then separate. Lather, wash, repeat for a month, making the introduction longer and longer each time. If you’re lucky, at the end the two animals will cuddle up together on the same bed at night. If you’re not lucky, there will be sporadic scenes and ongoing detente. If you’re really unlucky, one or the other animal will have to go.

    Another fun thing is when you’ve got a cat that chatters its teeth like wind-up false teeth when there’s a bird on the other side of a window. Or chirps.

  27. At a guess, I’d say somebody has cut this cat’s vocal cords. Doesn’t silence them, but it quiets their vocalizations and stops the prolonged keening you hear from Siamese and some other cats.

  28. BigBob

    I too can use the argument from authority. I have a cat, have had other cats and am not in the first flush of youth. The cat is cowering and distressed. Tells you all you need to know. For those reasons, I am not about to lighten up.
    Bob

  29. RdeG

    “No” means NO!

  30. Fair enough, BigBob. I should have taken out the “lighten up” and prefaced everything with “in my experience”. *In my experience*, the only time that sort of vocalization has been uttered by any of my cats has been when some other animal–adult cat or dog of any size, recognized as “not prey”–has been suddenly introduced inside the house (its territory). Removing the other animal stops the vocalizations. Repeated introduction of the other animal reduces it to not-threat/not-intruder, and the vocalization stops.

    I have never seen that kind of vocalization as the result of something else humans have done.

    For what it’s worth.

    In essence, trying to reassure folks that it most likely wasn’t people deliberately torturing the cat physically to make a “funny” video.

  31. Zucchi, I don’t see any reason to believe the cat has had its vocal cords interfered with. I’ve heard plenty of vocalizations like that from cats who I know have never been physically harmed, and, as others here have said, it’s always in response to the presence of another non-human critter whose presence they don’t like. A cat I fostered recently couldn’t stand other cats, and she made this noise repeatedly (complete with the lip-licking and agitated body posture this cat also displays) when she was first introduced to the permanent feline members of my household

    Eventually I found a home for her where she was the only cat and she was *so happy*. But her new family lives just down the street from me, and every so often she meets up with my cats or other cats when she’s out for a walk (both she and my cats are always closely supervised outside), and then she starts doing these noises all over again.

    I agree with others who have said that the cat in this video wasn’t being tortured or seriously harmed, although I admit that I was distressed to see how long they let it sit there being upset without trying to either remove the upsetting stimulus or move the cat to a calmer location. But in my experience with introducing cats to each other, sometimes you’ve got to just let them be upset for a bit until they get over it. Sometimes I am a little gently amused at how intense they get about these issues which seem so small from my perspective, in the same way that one might have a gentle laugh at a pair of toddlers passionately fighting over a toy. It doesn’t mean that one doesn’t care about their anger and distress, but at the same time it’s a little sweet and funny to see how invested they get in something so simple.

  32. Andrew W

    My daughter’s got a semi-wild cat (rural location and it mostly lives on rabbits frogs etc) that ends up in the house sometimes, so I have to catch it to put it out. The cat and I have a routine we go through, it hides under the sofa or coffee table cowering and making “I’m really scared noises” until I manage to crawl in and get it, I pick it up stroke it a couple of times and put it out the door, whereupon it happily wanders off.

    No doubt I should be ashamed of all the distress the cat suffers. lol.

  33. Sam Regenbogen

    I would never have expected there to be so many emotion-driven PETA types commenting on a skeptic’s blog. Seriously, get over yourselves. Cats are stupid and hilarious animals that make weird and hilarious noises like this all the time. I’ve had cats all my life and the two cats I have now are constantly surprising me with freaky noises I didn’t know they could make. They do it for any and every reason. Cats are just vocal animals. Ive never seen one do something like this before, but I wouldn’t be self-righteous enough to say “I’ve never seen it, so it obviously means they are abusing it!” it’s not cowering, as one person said; it’s doing the Halloween cat pose, where they try to make themselves look bigger. I guess I should stop trying to come up with logical arguments, though, since they seem to be just bouncing off minds that are already set.

  34. Grizzly

    Oh for heaven’s sake.

    I for one WILL say “lighten up”. I grew up with cats but now avoid them like the plague due to allergies.

    This cat is being introduced to another animal (in this case a human baby I believe) and is, indeed, agitated and upset.

    Check out a similar viral video (search Youtube for “My Long Johnson”) of a cat who has some rather interesting word-sound vocalizations in response to being introduced to another cat. Oh the horror, oh the humanity, oh Dan Piano…!

  35. Joel

    Several comments here:

    1) Obviously the cat could easily have made its own way away from whatever it was it didn’t like.

    2) Obviously it wasn’t in any real danger or pain.

    3) Cats, as anyone who has them will know, are melodramatic sods.

    However

    4) That did go on for a good minute longer than it had to.

    5) In my experience, cats are not unlike very small children. They have an intelligence, but it’s not always rational, even by adult standards. Therefore, if you have taken responsibilty for a cat, you should move it away from whatever is causing it this much distress well before this point, much as you would with a baby, even if the baby was in no danger.

  36. Paddy

    I’m not going to comment on the morality or otherwise of this, because it just isn’t clear to me what exactly is going on there. But I will say that I’m very creeped out… never seen a cat do anything like that.

  37. Gjeff

    I’m surprised at all the melodrama over the cat’s territorial feelings. I just wanted to mention the DJ Autotune remix….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZVbqk4aVuY

    If Carl Sagan can do it, then so can anyone else.

  38. JB Tait

    I have had a cat in heat make that noise, though usually they would make sounds like someone torturing a baby. From the blasted pupils, it could also possibly be a catnip overdose. Those catnip infused scratching posts come with a load that is too much for some kittehs.

  39. alfaniner

    If the cat’s name is Caesar I would be very concerned!

  40. Grand Lunar

    Heard many a cat sound in real life, but none like this (or any of those others that get attention)!

    I can only wonder; why is it doing it? Any cat sound experts here?

    I thought there was a dog (my cat does the nose licking when our dogs stress her out), but appearently not.

  41. Agatheron

    We have 2 cats. Our older one makes noises like that when she’s about to yarf a hairball. Announces to the whole world that she’s gonna bring one up, but any time I put some paper towel in front of her to let her do her thing, she looks at me disdainfully and then swallows it back down. For the record, I did laugh, in as much as it reminded me of my own feline’s follies.

    I’m not sure of the circumstances of this cat, but my cat that makes this noise is a similar breed… and there did seem to be some pre-hairball spasms in the picture. Granted, I would have probably let said cat alone to puke in peace.

  42. Gary Ansorge

    I like cats and have vast respect for their ability to kill things. They have never been pets to me, just friends who drop in occasionally and mooch some body heat and whatever meat they can con me into giving them. I think of them as solitary, opportunistic carnivores.

    Of the two cats that have been my special friends, one was a pure bred Manx and the other an American gray tabby. Both were highly intelligent, especially effective little killers and appreciated my presence. I never had a problem with rodents when they were around. As long as they’re allowed to come and go as they please, they exhibit a full range of cat behavior, usually being quiet and self contained. This cat appears somewhat loony to me.

    The only fat cats I’ve ever seen were house cats, kept indoors and fed commercial cat food. I’ve even seen one that was proudly displayed as an example of a cat raised as a vegetarian. It too was fat.

    My youngest daughter is a Vegan and a veterinarian. She said that raising a cat on a vegetarian diet is just cruel and unusual punishment.

    Gary 7

  43. Luke

    Reminds me of BIT from Tron when Flynn nearly crashed the Recognizer…

  44. Joseph G

    I love kittehs! I haz two of my own. But unless some evidence of this cat being abused or in pain is brought forward, I’m going to continue laughing my butt off.

    One of the wonderful things about cats is that they’re all different. For instance, many cats will bite you or act agitated if you rub their bellies; mine absolutely loves it. He stretches out and purrs like a motorboat. This same cat will also follow you around with a rubber ball until you throw it for him, in which case he’ll chase it like a bat out of hell, caroming off the walls, in order to bring it back to you like a dog playing fetch.
    At the same time, my other cat (the brother of ball-fetcher) is ridiculously afraid of me. He’ll hiss loudly at me if I get near him. He’s perfectly chummy with his brother, and acts like a normal cat in other respects, but for some reason, even after months, he still won’t go anywhere near me. Total and complete opposite of his brother.

    Anyway, I ramble, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this case was just making a funny noise because… well, that’s what it does. I once knew a cat who made similar sounds when you scratched the base of its tail. It seemed to enjoy it, as it kept coming back for more back scratches, but it really spazzed out when you hit that spot. It made the funniest faces, too.

  45. Melanie (Australia)

    Have a cat that has an equally vocal (yet not nearly as funny) reaction to the Wiggles on TV. I agree the Wiggles are tortuous but I am yet to witness my cat harmed permanently by the experience. Is it possible that what this cat so clearly hates is the camera?

  46. Sean

    Looks like the put peanut butter on the roof of the cat’s mouth. You can see him drooling and trying to get it off with his tongue towards the end of the video. Same way the made Mr. Ed appear to speak back in the 50’s (60’s?). It’s funny, but cruel. Couldn';t help but laugh though.

  47. Sean, the lip licking behavior is a common feline response to stress, especially stress caused by the presence of another creature. I really don’t think there’s anything in the cat’s mouth other than its tongue and its teeth (which it shows off by doing a more classic hiss at 1:38 in the video).

  48. Paul

    It’s possible the cat is making those noises because it likes the way its humans behave when it does so.

    When reacting to cat, you have to be careful you’re not training them to do odd or undesirable things.

  49. Joseph G

    @48: Also, we may think we’re training a cat to, say, make a noise in exchange for a treat. But meows are free and infinite in suply, while treats are not. Who’s really training whom here? :)
    “Hey, Domino, check it out – I taught my human this awesome trick!”
    *MEOW*
    *NOM*
    “Wow, right on command. That’s a smart human you’ve got there. Make it do it again”

  50. alfaniner

    I blame George Lucas.

  51. Jose

    ITS Shia LaBeouf cat!

  52. Amber

    My cat does this, well, she doesn’t say NONONO, but the growling, the lip smacking, all of that, and always in response to something she sees out the window at night, like another cat or raccoon.

  53. Going to chime in on the “lighten up”. Yes, this cat is distressed from both the vocalization and the posture and clearly sees something it doesn’t like. However it doesn’t appear to be in pain (it’s gaze is too focused on something external that’s distressing it) and it did not withdraw or cower when it’s human tried to sooth it. I do feel bad for the cat and I don’t find this funny because it makes me want to go pick up the kitty and sooth it, but I don’t judge Phil for finding it funny.

  54. bob

    Lighten up gets a vote from me. This is hilarious.

    The cat’s been neutered or has fallen in the bath or there’s a new addition to the household.

    My guess: those who like animals and therefore actually keep one, find this amusing. People who claim to like animals and demonstrate this by not having one (usually accompanied by some pathetic rationalisation), think it’s cruel although there’s no evidence whatsoever that this is the case.

    They try to soothe it at one point. Does it cringe? Does it run away? No, it sits there.

    Too many idiots.

  55. Matt B.

    I had a cat that sounded like “loddle-loddle-loddle-loddle” when he was about to puke. It was very similar to the nonono cat’s noise ,just a different consonant. It’s possible the nonono cat was verging on puking from stress.

  56. Cherie

    I haven’t read everyone’s comments, so I apologize if someone already mentioned this, but I have a Bengal cat, and this vocalization is very common in that breed. I’ve always heard it referred to as “nom-nom-nom-nom”, because they make it when they are eating. (Which it appears this cat is doing.) Seems to be two possible meanings in Bengals. 1. “This new food is really awesome”, or the more likely, 2. “This is my food, stay away”. (For those of you who do not know, Bengals are a hybrid with Asian Leopard Cats, and so retain a lot of ‘wildcat’ vocalizations.) My guess is this cat is doing the same thing. He ate something awesome (peanut butter?), and he is warning all the people to stay away, it is his. They are not suffering or in pain when they make this noise. For more entertainment, google “Bengal eating noise”.

  57. Cosybully

    If you watch the original video, which is over four minutes long, you’ll see that the cause of this cat’s distress is a doll that they are waving in front of it. I haven’t read all of the comments, so I apologize if I am repeating an earlier question, but I would like to know what breed of cat is this?

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