Why Do Cats Chirp?

Cat chirps – they are super cute and very sweet, but what do they mean?

If your feline companion has ever curled up next to you and let out a contented chirp-like sound, you have probably wondered what it meant. Are they happy? Do they want something? Are they hungry?

Well, a chirp is one of several ways that your feline friend has evolved to communicate with you. Keep reading to find out more.

What is a Chirp?

A cat chirp can also be called a trill or chirrup. It sounds a bit like a peep and is quite similar to the sound of a warbling songbird. 

It is now thought that cat vocalizations or noises fall into three distinct categories. Your cat can make aggressive sounds, they can meow, or they can murmur. Chirping, like purring, is categorized as a murmuring sound. This is because your cat makes these noises with their mouth closed.

Chirping Cat Communications

After a couple of millennia of domestication, cats have realized that they need to communicate with their pet parents by making sounds as close to speaking as possible.

The Veterinary Information Network says that cat and human communication is quite similar – we both rely on vocal and visual signals. Basically, we just get each other!

Why Do Cats Chirp?

Cats chirp because they want to greet you or want you to know that they approve of what you are doing. Think of a cat chirp as a friendly hello or thank you when you do something nice for them.

You may also notice that your cat chirps whenever their hunting instinct comes out. This is probably because they want to mimic the sound of a bird to try and disguise themselves as a predator.

Watch and listen the next time that your cat is watching the birds outside – you will find that they chirp at them.

Remember that a cat’s hunting instinct is not limited to just food – they will often chirp when you are playing with their toys as well.

We recommend that you play with your cat regularly to encourage vocalizations. A feathered toy on a string mimics prey the best and will bring out their inner hunter!

Body Language

Next time you catch a chirp, have a look at your cat’s body language. You will notice that their mood changes slightly. 

Playful chirping at you or their toy will involve some gentle headbutting, bright and blinking eyes, and maybe even some tail swishing. This is all normal, playful cat behavior. Chirping as a hunter, however, is slightly different.

Your cat will adopt a stalking pose, with a low-down and crouched position. They will also have dilated pupils, an arched back, and a focused expression that is characteristic of a predator.

What To Do When Your Cat Chirps?

It may be a good idea to make a mental note of when your cat chirps. You may find that they chirp at something in particular.

Some cats chirp at their owners when they want something. Your cat might want fuss, attention, and scratches, or they might want you to play with them. If you do meet your cat’s demands, you will find that they reward you an awful lot with purring and affection.

Other cats chirp when something is wrong – usually, this means that they are hungry! Try following their prompts and put some food out or give them a complimentary treat.

Chirping at birds could mean that your cat is a little frustrated that they can’t go out to play. This is particularly true if you have an indoor cat.

Some cats, however, may just be excited that they can see things out the window. Be aware that cats with a high prey drive may try to stalk or hunt the birds through the window.

Keep in mind that not being able to do what you want is frustrating – even more so for a cat! A chirping cat could benefit from some mental stimulation inside the home. This does not mean that you need to break out the puzzle book – just play with your cat for a couple of minutes!

We recommend that you go for a toy with a squeak that has some feathers or string. This will be as close to the real thing – as in prey – as possible and so most stimulating for your cat. This is also a great way to burn off some exercise. 

If it is feasible, it may even be a good idea to get your cat a friend. Having a playmate to engage with while you are out or busy is a great way to keep your cat happy and active.

Other Cat Sounds

Now you can understand what your cat means when they chirp, it may be a good idea for you to listen to other sounds that they make. 

‘Meow’ is the sound that is most commonly associated with cats. Kittens meow to their mothers when they need to communicate something.

After a couple of hundred years of domestication, adult cats have learned that this sound plays to their human companion’s heartstrings enough that they can get what they want.

Keep in mind that a drawn-out meow sound could be a cat in distress. A longer vocalization could also mean annoyance. An annoyed cat will make a slightly deeper sound when they speak – don’t get on their bad side!

Purring is another common cat sound. It is a soft and throaty rumble that your cat makes in their chest whenever they are content or happy. It is a truly lovely feeling to have a cat purring in your lap – you know that they are perfectly content.

Final Thoughts

Want to see if your cat is a chirper? Get them involved in some high-energy play. 

Don’t forget that cats are natural mimics so you could always have a go at giving chirping a go yourself. This might help your cat feel more comfortable, encouraging them to be vocal back. 

If your cat doesn’t chirp, don’t worry! This, too, is completely normal.

Courtney Trent
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