Cats have been known for their obsession with feathers as their wild ancestors used to hunt birds and play with their feathers after they had successfully hunted a bird. Feathers reactivate their instinct to hunt, which makes them feel comfortable, and which is why they enjoy licking them. Whether cats lick and play with feathers because the feathers resemble prey that they would normally hunt in the wild or just the texture of feathers.
Feathers always seem to be a favorite of cats, as they often love to lick at them, bat them around, stalk them, and pounce on them. This reactivates their natural instinct for hunting, making them feel comfortable. For example, if your cat sees a feather, and immediately starts to lick it or try to catch it, it’s similar to what he would do if he were hunting prey in the wild.
Regardless of the reason for cats lick feathers, it’s clear that cats are drawn to feathers and find them irresistible!
Why do cats find bird feathers so fascinating?
Have you ever noticed your cat sitting next to a window, making a strange clicking noise while they’re watching a bird?
Cats will often make a clicking noise when they’re excited about something. It could be watching a bird standing on a branch, close to the window of your house.
Whenever your cat spots possible prey, they suddenly become the predator, whether it’s just for play or for survival. Cats consider birds as prey. Therefore, it’s only natural for their instincts to kick in whenever they see a feathery creature. Even if your cat is lying down completely stiff and isn’t stalking any birds by walking around the window or the TV, it could still be thinking about hunting it.
Why kittens love feathers
Simply put, kittens love feathers because they are fun to play with and provide hours of entertainment.
As you watch your kitten play with a feather, you may have wondered why it’s so drawn to them. After all, a feather doesn’t really look like the most exciting toy in the world. Nevertheless, feathers can provide hours of entertainment for young kittens.
One reason your kitten loves to play with a feather is that they’re the perfect size for a kitten to swat at and chase. When a feather is attached to a string, the jerking, and fluttering movements of the feather can also be very appealing to a kitten’s predatory nature. Plus, as the kitten is used to focusing on small moving objects, a feather provides an ideal target for them to practice their hunting skills.
Is it harmful to cats to lick feathers?
In short, no, feathers are actually a safe toy for cats to play with. Although, you should always supervise your cat when it’s chewing, licking, or playing with feathers or any other toy. This is because they may accidentally swallow the feather, which could cause a problem in the future.
Here are some things to keep in mind when letting your cat play around with feathers:
Choking hazards: Materials like string can cause strangulation. If digested, feathers can also block your cat’s airway and cause suffocation.
Laceration hazards: A feather can lacerate a cat’s mouth, tongue, and gums.
Intestinal obstruction: Feathers can both cause intestinal obstruction if swallowed by a cat.
You should take into account that cats are also quick and agile creatures. Your cat could easily get away from you, and by the time you realize what’s happening, it could be too late.
If you’re looking for a safe way to keep your cat entertained, there’re plenty of safe toys on the market that is specifically designed for cats and is quite similar to real feathers. These specialized toys are much safer than feathers and can still provide a cat with hours of fun.
Are real feathers safe for cats to play with?
Real feathers aren’t ideal for cats because if a cat swallows a feather, it can’t digest feathers, meaning that it cannot safely consume them. Feathers that are ingested can cause obstructions in the digestive system, similar to hairballs.
In short, cats instinctively love to lick feathers. After all, it’s how they would remove some of the feathers from a bird they caught, as they never ingest a large number of feathers once they’ve caught a bird. Once a cat has caught a bird, it would lick and bite the feathers to pull some of the feathers out. This is the most common reason why your cat will also do this with toy feathers and even their other toys.