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Wondering why cats chirp? Fascinating reasons why your cat chirps at birds (and you)

If your cat loves to watch birds through the window, you may have heard him chirping. His tail flicks, his eyes widen, he focuses on his prey, and then he starts this soft series of chirps. Chirping, also called chattering, is a curious sound, and it’s quite unlike your cat’s typical meow. Some cats chirp more than others, and if you’ve never heard your cat chirp before, that’s not all that unusual. If your cat does chirp, it’s natural to wonder what’s behind it and whether you should be concerned. So why do cats chirp, and what do these noises mean?

Young kitten on a log chirping

Why do cats chirp?

As with many cat behaviors, we’re still trying to understand precisely why cats chirp. However, cats seem to chirp out of excitement.

You can understand this if you watch your cat’s body language when he’s chirping. Chances are, his eyes are wide and focused on something, and he may have stretched his head out, trying to get a better view of what’s going on. You might notice that your cat flicks his tail, crouches down, and tenses his body. There’s intense focus behind this behavior.

If your cat chirps when he sees you, he may be greeting you or trying to get your attention. You’ll probably notice those same signs of eagerness and focus, but your cat might be slightly more relaxed, walking around or even rubbing against your legs. He may be chirping to say hi or hoping to get you to feed him or play with him.

Orange and white cat looking up and chirping

How to recognize when your cat is chirping

When cats chirp, it almost sounds like they’re mimicking a bird. They often make a short series of peeps or trills, and the sound seems to come from the back of their throat. Some cats chirp while barely opening their mouth, while others develop more of an openmouthed chatter.

Whatever your cat’s style, his chirping is probably a series of sounds directed at something — a bird, a toy, or even you. Chirping is a quieter noise, like an under-the-breath sound, but it’s so unusual that it’s likely to catch your attention when you hear it.

Orange longhaired cat lying in a sunny window

How to react when your cat is chirping

When your cat is chirping at you, the best thing you can do is figure out what he wants. He might want you to pat him or pay attention to him, and he’ll probably reward you by purring and walking around you in circles. Some cats may chirp because they’re hungry and are prompting you to get out the cat food. Try reacting in a number of ways and see if what you do satisfies your cat.

If your cat is chirping at birds frequently, he may be excited by their presence and frustrated that he can’t get outdoors to hunt them. Some cats will go as far as to stalk their prey and attempt to pounce on them through the window.

Not being able to satisfy his natural hunting instinct can be frustrating for an indoor-only cat, so consider finding ways to help your cat “hunt” inside. Toys that squeak and have different textures and movements can help pique your cat’s interest. Playing with toys on a string can give your cat a good workout, helping to keep him healthy and entertained. Even getting a second cat can encourage your cat to stay active, providing him with a playmate.

Alert cat looking into the camera with wide eyes

If your cat is chirping, it isn’t a bad thing. He’s communicating, whether that’s with you or with the birds outside the window. Cats use noises to convey all sorts of different things, and in most cases, a cat who is chirping is excited or trying to get your attention. If you’re attempting to understand why your cat chirps, spend some time watching him and pay attention to his body language. The more carefully you observe your cat, the more you’ll learn about his behavior. You might find that your cat is chirping because he wants something specific, and by playing with him, interacting with him, or even feeding him, you’ll be giving him just what he wants.

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