Why Do Cats Chirp?

Tabby cat looking at birds that are chirping

If you thought that you knew all the sounds that a cat makes, then you will be astounded by the one that we just discovered, “chirping,”. We know you are familiar with the meow, the hissing, and the famous growl and you are probably asking yourself is — if the cats chirp, then what do the birds do?

Cats can produce many different sounds than the standard meow that we are often accustomed to hearing. Many of the sounds that cats make can express a feeling or a desire that they want to be addressed. I say addressed because let’s be real, they’re the ones calling the shots. For instance, how often do your cats wake you up in the morning for their 6 A.M. first breakfast? Their meows for breakfast probably sound quite a bit different than when they want to be brushed or when they’re mad because you do not want them up on the countertops.

Cats can be quite vocal and have numerous variations on their standard meow. I was shocked to learn that a cat can make up to 100 different vocal sounds and chirping is one of these vocal sounds.

If you are a new cat owner, you are probably unfamiliar with the sounds cats can make and will probably scare you the first time you hear it. If you ever had to deal with stray cats, some of the meows that come out of these cats late at night can sound like someone is being brutally murdered, but it’s just a cat doing cat things.

Now if you are a cat owner, there’s a good chance that you have heard your cat chirp, although you probably didn’t register it in your mind as a cat chirping.

What does chirping sound like? 

You know if you hear your cat chirp, and are not sure or rather you don’t want to think that it can produce that sound, you will probably think that it has something on its mouth that it is trying to crunch or it is sick. A cat’s chirp sounds like a stuttered meow, or some form of bleating but very low when compared to a goats bleat. Most people refer to the chirping as chattering, and if you listen closely it does sound like chatter.


So why do cats chirp?

Cats love to hunt, it is in their nature, and even though they appreciate the comfort that comes with being domesticated when left outside to play, the cat will go into hunter mode to scratch it’s predatory itch. Additionally, our feline friends have been known to chirp when watching squirrels or birds, which can be considered as a way of expressing disappointment for being unable to reach the enticing delicacies.

You have probably seen how a cat lowers itself onto the ground as it plans to pounce on its prey, it becomes a master of stealth. However, whenever it is excited about hunting then you will hear the chirping sound.

Chirping can also be said to be a sound that is produced by cats when they are happy or when they desire something because the same sound can also be heard whenever they want to play with their toys, when they want to feed, or when they see their owners. From my experience, I would often hear my cat chirp when it wanted to be brushed. It was always cute seeing my cat trot to the table to be brushed.

History of cat chirping 

The origin of a cats chirp bears its roots from kittenhood, a mother cat will beckon its kittens to follow her by chirping and the kittens will communicate with their mother also by chirping. The same would be heard when they are craving for attention like playing or when they want food. 

But if a cat chirps at you then they are most probably hungry and are requesting for food. Which is probably almost always the case. It always seems like cats are never satiated…maybe Garfield was meant to be a documentary on cat ownership.

Cats do make various sounds that sound indistinguishable from one another and this causes the problem of trying to associate what sound corresponds to what behavior. For instance, my cat loved to chirp when getting brushed, but would also chirp when looking outside the window. To me, it sounded like the same chirp but as noted, it was during two different activities.

On the other hand, cats do some to always be true to their feelings. Take for example when they are pursuing a bird or when they feel threatened, the expression on their face and the sounds that they produce are very relatable to their intention.

Why do cats chirp when they see birds? (Are they mimicking a bird?)

You are forgiven for thinking that cats chirp to imitate birds, but we understand why you thought that way. As your cat stares outside the window at the chattering birds, it will also begin to chatter or chirp, and if you observe closely you will realize that its full attention is on the birds and its pupils will even dilate and the mouth will be slightly open.

The cat’s expression and its relaxed posture can be read as a cry of disappointment, it is, therefore, some kind of an instinct behavior on how it would have made a midday snack out of the bird. There are many theories to the cat’s chirp, for example, there is one that suggests that the cat is simply excited to see its feathery friend and as a sign of appreciation it chirps.

And an even more interesting one suggests that a cat will make the chirping sound to fool the bird so that it can pounce on it and make a killing. The idea is that the bird will rarely fly away when it hears the sound of a fellow bird chattering and this is the opportunity that the cat will use to move closer to its prey.


All in all, I hope this answers your questions in regards to why cats chirp. The first time I heard it, I thought something was wrong with my cat, but it turns out it’s just another quirky thing that cats love to do.

Do your cats chirp? Or do they have their own unique sounds that only your cat makes? Let me know in the comments below!

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