Cats use various vocalizations to communicate with us, and one of these vocalizations is the cute chirping sound you become accustomed to hearing when your cat is obsessed with a bird or bug on the other side of the window. It’s not only domestic cats that vocalize with chirps—big cats do it too. Cheetahs, for example, chirp to attract mates and express distress. Cubs chirp to help their mother identify them if they go astray.
That said, cats chirp for a variety of reasons and to communicate different feelings. Some cats are big chirpers and some hardly chirp at all. In this post, we’ll explore this adorable sound and reveal what gets cats chirping and chatting away.
What Is Chirping?
A chirp is a high-pitched short trill or chirrup that sounds a little bit like birds cheeping. Chirping falls into the “murmur” category of cat communication. Murmurs are one of three acknowledged styles of cat communication. The other two styles are meowing and aggressive vocalizations like hissing and spitting. Purring is another vocalization that falls into the “murmur” category.
The 5 Reasons Why Cats Chirp
Cats chirp for many reasons: to express contentment, interest, or excitement, get your attention, greet you in a friendly fashion, and communicate with their young. Let’s explore this a little more.
1. Express Contentment
Happy, relaxed cats sometimes chirp to show you that they’re in a great mood. If your cat is chirping away while rubbing their head against you with erect ears pointed sidewards and open, friendly body language, this is a sure sign that they want to share their contentment with you!
2. Show Interest or Excitement
If something has piqued your cat’s curiosity, don’t be surprised if they start chirping ten to the dozen. This often happens when they spot potential prey, like a bird or insect outside while they’re looking out of the window. It may also occur when you’re playing with your cat. Chirping with excitement is common, and may be accompanied by “chattering” sounds.
3. Friendly Greeting
Similar to how a cat may chirp when they’re in a good mood, it’s not unusual for cats to chirp at you as a form of greeting. For example, if you come downstairs in the morning and your cat starts chirping and/or headbutting you, rubbing against your legs, or rolling over, they’re in “Hey! Good to see you!” mode.
4. Communicate With Kittens
Mother cats chirp at their kittens to indicate that they want the kittens to follow them. Likewise, kittens sometimes chirp to let their mothers know where they are if they become separated from the litter.
5. Getting Attention
If it’s almost feeding time and your cat wants to make sure you know it, they may chirp at you to prompt you to head in the direction of their bowls. It may also be a way to coax you into a back scratch, play session, or just a simple reminder that “I’m here!”.
My Cat Doesn’t Chirp—Is Something Wrong?
While some cats are incredibly talkative, others just aren’t very vocal, and it’s usually just a personality trait. If your cat seems otherwise happy and healthy, there’s no need to worry about their lack of meowing, chirping, or other vocalizations.
In some cases, a cat not vocalizing can be caused by conditions like feline laryngitis. If your cat’s meow has become unusually quiet or they’re displaying other symptoms like wheezing, coughing, loud breathing, lethargy, mouth hanging open, or they have a fever, laryngitis or another condition could be the cause. Consult a vet for a proper diagnosis.
So, it seems that yes, all cats can chirp, including wild cats. That said, some cats chirp an awful lot whereas others never seem to, and as long as they’re otherwise healthy, their chirping habits are likely just part of their personality! If you’re worried about any changes in your cat’s vocalizations and sounds or something about them doesn’t seem quite right, please share your concerns with a vet.
- Related Read: Why Does My Cat Trill When They Jump? 4 Common Reasons
Featured Image Credit: Deedee86, Pixabay