Witnessing your cat chirping can be odd as a cat parent if you aren’t familiar with cat psychology. Luckily, it’s nothing to worry about. Cat chattering and chirping are entirely normal. However, some experts believe that it should be encouraged in domestic cats.
For several reasons, cats chirp at birds and other small animals like rabbits, squirrels, or turtles. These reasons include predator instincts, imitation, technique, temptation, etc., and I’ll discuss them in detail. So here is what you should know about cat chirping.
Table of Contents
Like wild cats, domestic cats are natural predators. They have hunting instincts, just like lions and tigers. However, since they live in a domestic environment without worrying about food, safety, or shelter, their natural hunting instincts rarely kick in.
Their prey instincts kick in when these otherwise docile felines see an animal they could potentially hunt down. Cat chattering is one of the many behaviors that make them prey animals. You might wonder how a cat’s chirp ties in with hunting behavior. There are different aspects to a cat’s predatory behavior. I’ll explore each area in a bit more detail below.
If you have a bird feeder in your home that attracts different birds, you will notice that your cat makes different bird sounds.
Cats have the ability, and the cunningness, to mimic bird sounds. They try to make the bird think they are one of them, and when they can develop this kind of rapport with the bird through a common form of communication, they can get closer and eventually have more success in delivering the killing bite!
Cat chattering is observed with other wild cats, like cheetahs, wild mountain cats, and larger felines.
A cat’s killing bite is remarkable and closely related to why it chirps at birds.
When a cat leaps at its prey, it tends to attack the prey’s neck, specifically, the back of the neck.
Once it has locked the prey in its jaw, this chattering sound will make its teeth and overall jaw vibrate. According to a few theories, this vibration helps the cat sink its teeth deeper into the neck, rather than just using brute force and damages critical veins and nerves in the region, which paralyze the victim.
Even if it loses its grip during the take-down part of the hunt, the prey won’t be able to get very far after the attack, improving the chances of the success of the cat’s endeavor.
Just like humans get a dopamine kick from doing difficult tasks, other animals (including cats) get a similar rush of positive feelings when they face a reasonable challenge. For example, when your cat sees a bowl full of food, it is certainly happy, but when it sees a live animal that it can hunt, exercising its predatory instinct, it’s excited (and happy).
Some pet owners may think that their indoor cat is getting frustrated because it can’t go out and hunt what it sees. In reality, the cat chirps indicate that this is an exciting situation for the cat.
The cat’s chirping may continue for quite a while until it finally loses interest in the prey or the target goes away.
Catching birds and other animals is something cats do for fun, not just for food. The chattering behavior is normal and does not indicate that your pet is under some stress – quite the opposite.
Humans will wash their hands, sit at a table, put food on their plates, eat, wipe their hands and mouth, and get up when they are done. That’s our ‘eating sequence.’ Parallel to this is a cat’s ‘hunting sequence.’
It usually starts with the cat first noticing the prey, slowing down, getting into a crouch position, watching the prey continuously, then covering the ground, gaining proximity, and eventually launching the attack. When the cat is laser-focused on its target, it can make a chattering sound (in the case of birds) or make a sound similar to its target to develop that rapport.
Yet another theory proposes that the chattering behavior is an involuntary reflex and shows how much cats enjoy hunting prey that they can’t stop their teeth from chattering.
Just like humans will drool when they see food or lick their lips when thirsty and see a cold beverage, it’s the same for a cat when it makes chattering noises while looking at potential prey.
It may sound extreme, but you must remember that cats have evolved over thousands of years as predatory animals. Yet, deep down in their DNA and physiology, they are still perfectly capable of hunting animals. The only main difference is that domestic cats don’t have the kind of training that a cheetah cub has, so their success rate in hunting is drastically lower.
How to Encourage Cat Chattering
In any case, cat chattering is good. However, if your cat is not big on chirping or chattering, there are several things you can do to promote this behavior which will have positive results for both the cat and yourself.
Exposure – Allow your cat to go outside, explore the outdoors, or at least get a good view of the outdoors. It is their natural environment, and practicing hunting will be a fantastic form of play for it.
Snacks – Make mealtime a little more challenging. You don’t have to feed it live food, but allowing the cat to work for the meal will make the experience much better for your feline friend.
Play – Cats can be pretty lazy but love a good play session. So make it a point to have a high-energy play session with your cat at least once daily. This will benefit its physical and mental health and help improve your relationship with your pet.
Chattering is normal behavior for cats and is part of their natural psychology. On the contrary, a cat not chirping or not exhibiting predatory instincts is something you should be worried about.
Allow it to chirp and chatter and enjoy the experience of hunting. You can promote teeth chattering through small lifestyle changes and help it live a happier and more fulfilling life!