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Ever seen your cat ‘talking’ to the birds outside with chattering, chirping or tweeting noises? Find out what cats are saying when they talk to birds

Cats make a variety of different noises, from friendly chirrups as they say hello, to urgent meows as they demand their breakfast, but have you ever heard your cat chattering? 

a ginger-and-white cat looking out of a window

Not all cats chatter, and it’s nothing to worry about if your cat doesn’t make this curious sound. However, some cat owners will have seen their cat chattering their teeth or chirping, usually when the cat is indoors and can see birds, rodents or other prey species outside through a window or door. It can look like the cat is trying to talk to these other animals, but there are actually a few possible reasons for this behaviour. 

What is cat chattering and chirping?

Also called twittering, cat chattering or chirping is when a cat will start to rapidly open and close their mouth, usually while making stuttering or clicking sounds. This is often also accompanied by high-pitched chirps, tweets or chattering that can sometimes sound like a bird or rodent. As they make this noise they are also likely to have a crouched body position, ears facing forwards, wide eyes and a focused stare, and perhaps moving their tail from side to side too. This behaviour is more commonly seen in indoor cats who don’t have access to wildlife outdoors, but cats with outdoor access sometimes do it too. 

Watch a video of Mia the cat demonstrating chattering or chirping:

Possible reasons why cats chirp and chatter at birds

We don’t know for certain why cats chirp and chatter at birds and other wildlife but there are a few theories. 

What should I do when my cat is chattering or chirping?

Chattering and chirping is a natural behaviour for cats and usually nothing to worry about. However, if this is a new behaviour for your cat, or if they are chattering a lot more than usual, it’s best to get them checked by a vet in case there is a medical reason for this change. 
If chattering and chirping is normal for your cat, there are a few things you can try to reduce this behaviour and keep your cat happy.  

a brown-and-white tabby cat leaping in the air to catch a purple feathered fishing rod toy

  1. Play with them. If you notice your cat chattering at other animals, try distracting them with a cat toy instead. Giving them the chance to stalk, pounce and catch a toy will give them an outlet for their excitement or frustration while keeping the wildlife outside safe from harm. Fishing rod toys are ideal for this, as you can move the toy in the way the prey would move, for example along the ground like a rodent, or in the air like a bird. Having regular, short play sessions with your cat every day will help to satisfy their hunting instincts, so they will hopefully be less likely to chatter and chirp at birds and other animals outside. 
  2. Create a barrier. If you’re worried your cat is getting overly excited or frustrated by other animals outside, you could try blocking their view. Cover the lower section of any windows or doors they like to look out of with an opaque material such as cardboard or a window sticker, so they cannot see the wildlife outside. 

Find more advice on cats and play and how to deter your cat from hunting wildlife.

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