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What is the meaning of cat chirping?

white and tabby cat chirping at window © sophiecat - Shutterstock

Have you ever heard your cat making those short, peep-like sounds as they watch birds from the windowsill? Pretty hilarious, right? But do you know what your cat is trying to say?

By Justine Seraphin

Updated on the

If you own a cat, then you’ve probably heard them chirping at birds before. Usually, they’ll be sitting by a window, eyes wide, ears perked up, and tail swishing. 

It’s kind of a weird sound, but it has a very specific meaning. Here’s everything you need to know about cat chirping.

What does a cat chirp sound like?

Cat chirps are short, peep-like sounds that could be compared to chattering teeth or a warbling songbird. In fact, cat chirping is also known as chattering or trilling.

What does it mean when a cat trills, chatters, or chirps?

It is commonly believed that cats chirp to imitate their prey and therefore be able to approach them more easily. However this is more myth than fact. Indeed, a cat’s hunting style is based on silence and stealth. Making noise while stalking their prey is not a natural reaction for them. Besides, cats also chirp when they’re looking at squirrels, playing with feather toys, and sometimes even at their humans! So what do cat chirps really mean?

Well, according to cat behaviourists, cat chirps are an expression of frustration. Usually, cat chirping happens when there’s a barrier between the cat and their prey. In this sense, cat chirping is almost like a human murmuring angrily under their breath.  

But cat chirping is also an expression of excitement! Sometimes (though more rarely), cats chirp at their humans when they come or when they’re petting them. And outdoor cats who have no barriers between them and their prey still chirp too! So in essence, depending on the situation, chirping could mean excitement or excitement and frustration.

Typically, the more frustrated your cat gets, the more chatty they will become!

What should I do when my cat chirps?

Though they might sound strange, don’t worry, cat chirps are completely normal and most cats do it.

It may be frustrating if your cat chirps particularly loudly or even during the night, but unfortunately, this is a natural behaviour and a way for your cat to communicate, so it’s best to just let it happen.

If you would prefer your cat to be quiet at night, you could close your blinds or curtains until the morning - just so there’s no temptation to chirp at outdoor stimulants. However, if your cat is chirping during the day, remember they’re probably just feeling excited and somewhat frustrated. You can help them by engaging in a little game with them. Letting your cat catch their “prey” (a toy, for example), will give them the sensation that they’ve accomplished their instinctual need to hunt. 

Most of all, enjoy it! Cat chirping is hilariously cute!

Frequently asked questions

Is cat chirping a good thing?

Why do cats chirp when you touch them?

Why do cats chirp at each other?

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