Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why Do Cats Chatter at Birds? 5 Possible Reasons & FAQ

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat and bird

Why Do Cats Chatter at Birds? 5 Possible Reasons & FAQ

Cats are vocally gifted and can produce up to 21 distinct vocalizations.1 Although cat owners are accustomed to their pets meowing, they may be baffled by their chattering. Chattering is a unique sound that cats make after seeing prey, such as birds, while looking out the window. It is characterized by quick, rhythmic jaw movements interposed by short, high-pitched chirps and tweets.

A cat stares at their prey with laser focus when chattering. Their eyes widen as their ears tilt forward, and their tail wags. Chattering is a typical sound that all felines instinctively make, but animal behaviorists haven’t determined why they do it. Nevertheless, researchers have proposed some interesting theories. Join us as we examine some of the popular ones below.

3 cat face divider

The 5 Reasons Why Cats Chatter at Birds

1. Expressing Excitement

Cats might chatter to express excitement about seeing prey. The prospect of a hunt can give them an adrenaline rush due to overstimulation, which can result in chattering followed by tail swishing.

This theory might not be far-fetched. Humans also make odd sounds when overstimulated by external factors. They yell, cry, laugh, or talk nervously.

cat in bird house
Image Credit: Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova, Shutterstock

2. A Predatory Instinct

Cat owners sometimes forget that their cute furry friends are natural predators with an instinctive desire to hunt prey. Some believe this predatory instinct is tied to the chattering sound.

According to the theory, the rapid vibration of the jaw is an involuntary mechanism that enables the cat to achieve a fast kill, which they cannot replicate with a voluntary action. Once they hold the prey’s neck between their teeth, their jaw rapidly vibrates and severs the spinal cord, delivering a swift death.

3. Expressing Frustration

Have you noticed how a cat almost always makes a chattering sound when viewing animals through the window? Some believe they could be expressing frustration because they can’t reach the animal through the glass.

Initial excitement at enjoying a kill can quickly turn into frustration. It is easy to see why the cat is irritated when their prey is so close they can almost taste it.

cat watching bird
Image Credit: Andrzej Puchta, Shutterstock

4. Telling Others

Some researchers believe the chattering sound could also be a cat’s way of alerting other cats about the prey they have found. Some owners say their cats run to them if they mimic the chattering sound, which suggests the cats expect food, and the theory isn’t farfetched.

5. Mimicking the Prey

A more recent theory proposes that the chattering sound could be the cat’s attempt at mimicking a bird’s sound. Proponents of this fascinating theory suggest that mimicry could be an attempt at luring the prey closer by making familiar sounds.

red tabby cat hunting a small bird
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

cat paw divider

When Do Cats Chatter?

Cats typically chatter at birds through the window, but that is not the only time they make the sound. They can also chatter at rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels. They might also make the sound after seeing an insect on the ceiling or somewhere they can’t reach.

Cats can also chatter when there’s no prey in sight. For instance, they can direct the noise at toys that mimic prey. There are also cases of cats chattering while chasing a laser beam.

Is Chattering a Cause to Worry?

No. Chattering is an instinctive behavior that all cats exhibit. So, it should not be a cause for worry. It shows your kitty is happy and engaged and should be encouraged. Trying to interfere with or stop such a natural behavior could have adverse effects.

First, distracting a cat in such a focused state could trigger an aggressive reaction. Also, denying the cat that outlet could result in stress. If you are worried the chattering is due to frustration, try mitigating the situation by engaging your cat in playful activities.

You can also provide interactive toys that entertain and stimulate them.

bengal cat on wood
Image Credit: Uschi Dugulin, Pixabay

Can Cats Eat Birds?

Cats are natural predators and can successfully hunt and eat birds and rodents. There was a time when people primarily kept cats because they could hunt and kill rodents that invaded farmers’ crops.

However, cats prefer the pet food we feed them. So, they are less likely to hunt for prey if you provide adequate nutrition. Experts suggest feeding them a high-protein diet.

yarn ball divider

How to Stop My Cat from Eating Birds

Feeding your cat may not necessarily quench their desire to hunt. That’s because it’s less about hunger and more about the thrill of the chase. Therefore, some domestic cats hunt for birds when given a chance. You can stop your cat from eating birds by providing alternative avenues to quench their desire to hunt.

That means setting time aside for engaging your cat in playful activities. You can also buy interactive toys to stimulate the cat physically and mentally when you’re not present. If your cat spends time outdoors, consider getting a collar bib. The birds can see the brightly colored bib from afar and will fly away before the cat gets close.

a cat playing with toys
Image Credit: winni-design, Shutterstock

cat paw divider


So, why do cats chatter at birds? Well, we might never get a definitive answer. Some of the theories sound convincing, but it’s all guesswork. The critical factor to remember is that chattering is a normal behavior and not a cause for worry. It keeps your kitty engaged and stimulated.

Trying to interrupt or reprimand your cat for the act is cruel, and they may become frightened or aggressive. You can encourage chattering by giving your feline a great view of the outdoors. Alternatively, you can consider other physical and mental stimulation activities such as daily play sessions and interactive toys.

Featured Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.