Why Do Cats Chatter? Discover The Real Reason For This Odd Trait

If you’ve been a cat parent for any length of time you may be asking “why do cats chatter?” In this post you’ll discover all about this odd yet endearing noise your cat makes.

In addition to chattering you’ll also find out why cats chirp and make other strange sounds. Are they normal and when to worry?

You may have been led to believe the only sound cats make is meow. While meowing is an important part of cat language, there are many other sounds. 

Just like human language there are many words cats use to express themselves. Of course, your cat can’t talk, but the sounds she makes are equivalent to words!

Keep reading as we enter your cat’s world…

What Chattering Really Means

Have you caught sight of your cat staring out of the window while chattering? If so she’s probably been watching birds, squirrels, or other small wildlife.

It’s believed cats make these strange sounds out of frustration.  Seeing prey and not being able to stalk and chase defies a cat’s natural hunting instincts.

You could look at it like a kitty swear word! I’m sure many of us have a range of swear words to hand.

Another theory is that chattering is directed at the prey. It’s as if your cat is trying to micic its squawks or shrieks.

 Your cat is stimulated by seeing the prey, and an adrenaline rush activates her hunting instinct. This is completely normal and you may also notice her tail swishing and mouth quivering.

Although mimicing is associated with birds such as parrots, studies have found wild cats are also capable of altering their vocal range. 

This just goes to show the clever and cunning tricks felines can perform. As cats need frequent meals to survive in the wild, this is a great trait to have.

Does Your Cat Chatter At You?

woman playing with cat

As cats chatter at prey it makes sense they also chatter during play. If you’ve ever made your cat excited with a laser pointer you may know what I’m talking about.

Your cat doesn’t understand the red dot she’s chasing isn’t real. Her instincts tell a different story.

As your kitty gets excited you may notice her eyes widen and her tail swishes back and forth.

In addition, it’s not unheard of for cats to chatter while chasing toy prey. However, if your cat starts chattering at the laser pointer it could mean she’s about to pounce!

It could also mean you get badly scratched in the process! Your cat won’t deliberately try to harm you. It’s just her natural instincts taking over

Also, be careful holding a toy as you could easily become a target! Feather wands are safest as you can distance yourself from your cat. Many have retractable wands so you can pull away quick..

Why your cat chirps

Chirps are different to chattering, and are a short sound often made with the mouth closed. My cat chirps or makes brrp noises as a greeting. 

He also does this to get attention, especially if its meal time. You may also have noticed your  cat chirps on your arrival home, or even just to let you know she’s there!

Watch her body language as well. Just like humans cats communicate using both sounds and body language. 

All cats are different with no two being the same. You may find yours likes to vocalise, while others are quieter. 

Growling And Hissing

Growling is used as a warning to step back. If you’ve ever heard your cat growl outside, you’ll know it’s often a warning to other cats.

If I hear my cat make this sound I grab hold of him before he starts a fight. Although cats can have friends, there’s always a hierarchy. 

Hissing is more of a defensive sound. If growling doesn’t fend off an intruder, hissing is the last resort before attack.

Most cat fights sound worse than they are. It’s not that common for a cat to get hurt and most consist of hissing and shrieking.

If you’ve ever been growled at by your cat it would have been because she felt threatened. It doesn’t mean she hates you, but you may have spooked her.

Cats are easily startled and can respond in a defensive way. Growling is a sign for you to step back.

An injured cat will growl if touched, and if your cat growls when you pet her, it’s possible she’s in pain. If this is the case make sure you speak to your vet. 

Meowing 

why do cats chatter-cat meowing

Many are surprised to learn that adult cats only meow at humans. As kittens meowing is used to get mum’s attention. This could be for food, if they’re frightened or cold. 

Your cat may meow at you to say “hi”, if she wants food, needs to go outside, or just wants attention.

If your cat is elderly it’s possible she’ll vocalise more. This is more common in deaf cats though and meowing can be loud!

Howling And Yowling

Unneutered cats especially males will yowl to find a mate. The noise can be really loud especially during the night!

However, if your cat yowls and she’s been spayed it could be she’s in discomfort or pain.  Alternatively, she may be just bored!

Final Thoughts 

cat meowing for attention

I hope this post has helped answer your question “why do cats chatter.” As you now know cats have a wide range of sounds they use to communicate.

In fact, dogs only have a range of ten sounds, whereas cats have 100! So you can see how well our feline friends have evolved to communicate.

In addition to your cat’s wide vocal range, she’ll also communicate using body language. One thing to bear in mind is this differs from canine body language.

For example, tail swishing in dogs means happy, but in cats it’s beware! An angry cat will swish her tail.

Apart from chattering we also covered other common sounds including chirping, meowing, and yowling.  The latter two could be cause for concern if your cat meows or yowls excessively.

If you’re at all concerned about your cat always consult a vet. A normally quiet kitty could be unwell if she suddenly becomes vocal

If you have enjoyed this post and found it useful please share. Feel free to share this pin on your “pets” board

Why Cats Chatter And What It Means pin

Also, if you have any questions or would like to share experiences leave a comment below

Wishing you a purrfect day

Kathy 

10 thoughts on “Why Do Cats Chatter? Discover The Real Reason For This Odd Trait”

  1. Interesting post, Kathy!

    I’ve had cats for years and wondered what all the noises were about. I’ve definitely learned a few things by reading your post…

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi John, glad you enjoyed this post and learnt from it🙂 cats can make a whole range of sounds and it’s always fascinating how they use them to interact with humans. Thanks for stopping by

      Reply
  2. I once had a cat who never meowed at me. I got him as a kitten – he was feral and a few months old when I adopted him but he was easily domesticated. He (Tatis) never ever meowed at me, but we communicated well nonetheless. He spoke to me with his eyes; he was very expressive that way. He also became the leader of the other cats I had and he was a great leader, always calm, composed and still getting respect. He was a remarkable cat. It was hard for me to lose him …

    Loki, my cat – he knew Tatis – is very vocal. He meows at me when I come home, he often comes to greet me (when he’s there). I’ve never heard him chatter but he meows a lot, usually around feeding time or when I open the refrigerator, lol. 😉

    Reply
    • Hi Christine, thanks for sharing your story 🙂 isn’t it funny how every cat is so different. My last cat was a very vocal female. My present cat is also vocal but makes completely different sounds. He chirps and meows to get attention. Whereas Crystal used to howl at her stuffed toy as if it was a baby.

      Reply
  3. It’s interesting to know why cats chatter, and you did a good job explaining in this post. I also love the video you attached here that left a vivid impression of how cats chatter when they see prey. I wonder how to identify that my cat is just bored when she yowls? She could be painful for some health issue, right?

    Matt

    Reply
    • Hi Matt, glad you enjoyed this post🙂 yes, the video of cats chattering is a good example of how they chatter when looking at prey through a closed window. Frustration is usually the cause! In answer to your question, if your cat yowls and is neutered, she could be in pain. While it’s possible boredom could be the cause, if it’s unusual behaviour you need to examine her for any injuries.

      Reply
  4. Hi Kathy, thanks a lot for another pleasurable read ;-)Really happy you explained some of the most common noises that cats do. While meowing was pretty clear to me, the chattering less. Now I understand that better. Another sound you described, yowling can be pretty scary if you are not used to it. I remember my cat doing it in the night. It was really awful sound. Knowing what was going on, could have stepped in earlier and prevent his night fights eventually. Great read. Cheers

    Reply
    • Hi Julius, nice to see you again, and glad you like this post☺ Yes, meowing is the most common noise, and not all cats chatter. I can understand your fear when your car yowled. If it’s fighting it sounds far worse than it is.

      Reply
  5. Interesting. I’ve always noticed this about cats. Making different noises in different situations. If they want to get out, get in or if they don’t want someone to come any closer or the opposite. My young Niece seems to have a bit of a nack for this. Every one of the neighbour’s cats seems to want to go and see her but I also notice how they react in some other situations. I think it is a psychological thing to understand it all. Cats are definitely very complex creatures. Something I think we will never understand about them but like any animal, there is a lot you can tell about them by the noises they make.

    Thanks for sharing;

    Alex

    Reply
    • Hi Alex, glad you enjoyed this post😊 yes, cats are very complex animals, and hard to understand at times. Your niece sounds like she has a real affinity with cats. Every at has its own way of expressing itself. Some are very vocal and enjoy a chat, while others are more laid back! Thanks for stopping by

      Reply

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