Why Do Cats Chirp? The Reasons Behind This Cute Sound
We all know that cats purr, hiss, and meow, but have you ever wondered what's behind this bird-like noise?
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You may have seen your cat sitting on the window sill/window perch, sounding like it’s having a conversation with the birds outside. That’s your cat chirping, a vocalization that does, indeed, sound similar to a bird call. Cat vocalizations, such as meowing, hissing, and purring, each have a purpose, and so does chirping. As a cat parent, you may be curious, not only about why do cats chirp, but also how they do it. Keep reading to find out more about why your pet engages in this adorable cat behavior.
Why do cats chirp?
As an expression of excitement when a cat sees a prey animal. A cat’s chirp, a high-pitched, peep-like noise, is done in anticipation when the cat sees a bird, toy, or a bug that engages their natural hunting instincts, says Emily Wilson, DVM, of Fuzzy Pet Health. With this type of chirp, you may notice your cat chirping while rapidly moving its tail back and forth, along with dilated pupils and teeth chattering.
As a greeting. Some cats chirp when greeting other cats or humans to show that they are elated to see them. These chirping episodes usually do not occur along with the behaviors described above. “This type of chirp is associated with general excitement or happy hello vocalization,” says Dr. Wilson.
When you hear your cat chirping at you, try petting them or playing with their favorite toy to appease your kitty and improve your bond. To engage a chirping cat, look for a toy that simulates a natural hunting interaction, suggests Dr. Wilson. “This can include cat toys with feathers, bird noises, laser pointers, or even ‘bird TV’ [YouTube videos of birds].”
How do cats chirp?
According to International Cat Care, cats have three different types of vocalizations: murmuring, meowing, and aggressive sounds. Chirping, like purring, falls under murmuring, as it’s done primarily with their mouth closed, explains Dr. Wilson.
Big cats, such as tigers, make a similar but differently formed sound called “chuffing.” Dr. Wilson says it is produced by “blowing air through the nostrils with a closed mouth.” In big cats, the sound is used to greet another cat, or as a sign of happiness. Similarly, chirping is performed with a mostly closed mouth when the cat pushes air over the vocal cords.
Are cats happy when they chirp?
Cats are typically joyful when they chirp, as they are either anticipating a hunt or greeting a human. When a cat is enthusiastic about a bird or bug she sees, it may assume the position of stalking, and stay low to the ground. On the other hand, “Cats that are greeting a housemate or family member will often show their happiness by headbutting, or asking for attention,” while making the chirping noise, says Dr. Wilson. Another way some cats like to say hello is by rubbing against your legs.