For owners of domestic cats, it’s well known that our feline friends make a whole lot of noises throughout their life. Over the thousands of years they evolved and became domesticated, house cats learned that, in addition to other forms of communication, “speaking” is one of the best ways to communicate with humans. But in addition to meows and many other noises, cats (both wild and domesticated) also have a chirping sound, also known as a chirrup. This noise is short, squeaky, and sometimes accompanied by the chattering of their teeth.
The chattering and chirping noises relate back, in part, to a cat’s hunting instincts. While chirping and chattering, cats are often focused intensely on prey animals and their body language reflects that. They often follow the animals with their eyes and their bodies tense up getting ready to pounce. But watching birds and other animals through a glass window is different than trying to hunt them out in the wild, so cats may start chirping in frustration (or even in excitement!).
Watching birds, squirrels, and other animals may be frustrating for your cat at times but chirping is an absolutely normal and natural behavior. Wild cats have also been documented to also chirp and chatter when they’ve spotted prey! Looking out the window can be an entertaining way to spend a few hours for your cat and if they get too riled up, there are ways you can help them work out some of that energy. Scavenger hunts or puzzle toys that make cats ‘hunt’ for their food can be a great way for cats to release some of that pent up energy while also allowing them to use their natural instincts.
A very similar sound is called a trill, which is also high pitched and short like a chirp. This sound is thought to be done for a few reasons, like a mother getting her kitten’s attention or just as a way to attract attention in general. Adult cats have also been known to use this sound as a greeting to both humans and other cats. Ultimately, trilling is generally associated with positive emotions but in rare cases, excessive trilling could indicate your cat is in pain.
Chirping, chattering, and trilling are all normal sounds for our feline friends to make, especially if they’re bird watching out the window! The excitement and frustration that comes with seeing prey animals like birds and squirrels is often the reason behind these noises. But cats have been known to trill as a greeting or a way to draw attention to themselves. Overall, these sounds are usually happy, excited noises!