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Why do cats chatter at birds?

Spring has sprung, and the birds have begun making their nests. You may have noticed your cat glued to the window, captivated by the fluttering birds, and chattering at the sight of them. Have you ever wondered why they do this? No one knows for sure, but here a few theories.

It may be a clever trick

Scientists studying the vocal calls of monkeys in the Amazon forest of Brazil once observed a wildcat imitating the monkeys’ sounds. Since feral and domestic cats also display this chattering behavior when hunting prey, some scientists believe that it’s a form of deception that cats use to lull their prey into a false sense of security before they pounce. The next time your cat chatters out the window, see if you can spot the bird. The bird’s beak and your cat’s calls may be in sync!

It may be a form of preparation

Some people believe that the chattering behavior is actually practice for when cats spring on their prey. Being ambush predators, cats will pounce and kill their prey very quickly. They accomplish this by biting down and shaking their jaws to break its neck and spine. You may have seen some of this residual instinct when your house cats eat canned or dry food. Therefore the chattering behavior may be a “practice run” for the actual moment kitty springs into action!

It may have to do frustration

Other cat behaviorists suspect that the chattering comes from excitement and frustration, especially since it’s most often observed when a cat is at the window or chasing an inaccessible laser pointer. If your cat seems upset, you can defuse the tension by offering a play session with a physical toy that can be caught.

Do you ever wonder what adorable hijynx your cat gets into while you’re away? Our pet sitters send nightly updates with photos and videos of your kitty. Request a pet sitting quote today!


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Jeff Eaton on flickr

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