Why Do Cats Chirp at Birds?

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Cat chirping.

Cats make some strange noises sometimes, don’t they? In fact, they have a broad repertoire of sounds and vocalizations that they use to communicate with us, their predators, and other cats. So, have you ever noticed your cat at the window making weird noises at birds or squirrels? Let’s find out why cats chatter, cackle, and chirp, and what other sounds they make.

Why Do Cats Chirp at Birds?

Cackling, chattering, or chirping at birds, squirrels, or other prey can seem like just another weird cat behavior to the untrained ear. So, what does it mean?

They’re Ready To Hunt

Chirping is a prey-driven behavior. When your cat can see prey like birds, squirrels, or rodents, through the window, they chirp in response to their hunting instincts. Of course, they only chirp when separated from their prey by a barrier. If they made the noise while actually hunting, they would give away their location, and their hunt might be unsuccessful!

They’re Frustrated

When your cat can see their prey and wants to hunt but can’t because of a physical barrier like a window or door, they chirp out of frustration. This noise could act as a way of venting frustration and relieving stress.

It’s Instinctive

Sometimes, although a cat’s behavior doesn’t make sense to us, it’s intrinsic and natural to all cats. Chirping is an example of that. Although the behavior doesn’t seem to serve any obvious purpose, it’s a form of cat communication and behavior that all cats share. That’s right—big cats, small cats, old and young, wild cats and domestic cats, will all display this behavior in certain situations.

What Other Noises Do Cats Make?


When cats are happy, they often purr. This is a soft rumbling or rattling sound that originates in their throat. But did you know that purring isn’t only a sign of happiness? Cats can also purr as a self-soothing method when they are nervous, stressed, or unwell.


A meow often means your cat is curious, content, or wants interaction. However, you can usually tell their mood by the tone of their meow. Sometimes it feels like you have a whole conversation with your cat, with them responding with a “meow” in all the right places.


A yowl is a loud, elongated meow that often sounds like your cat is in pain or severe distress. Rather than being a sign of pain, yowling is associated with mating behavior and is common among females in season.


Cat growling

Cats that are growling might also hiss and arch their backs, all of which send the message to stay away.

Growling is a low-pitched, aggressive noise that cats make when they are annoyed, irritated, or afraid. It’s a sure sign that your cat is unhappy with their situation. This might mean that they are in a fight or under threat from another cat, they’re in pain or unwell, or they’ve just had enough human interaction.


Cats will hiss to try to scare away or warn off a threat. It’s not just the noise of the hiss that is a deterrent, though. When they hiss, their mouth opens wide, and they bare their teeth. This helps them look threatening, and discourages people or other cats from approaching.


Cat meowing.

Cats make a wide variety of vocalizations other than simple meowing.

If you’ve heard your cat chirp, chatter, or cackle at animals outside, you might wonder why they do it. Like many other cat behaviors, it’s a little bit of a mystery. Still, the information above should give you an insight into some possible reasons. After all, the more you understand your cat’s body language and behavior, the stronger your bond will be.

Also Read: 7 Common Cat Vocalizations And What They Mean

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my cat make weird noises when watching birds?

When cats can see their prey but can’t hunt them, they often cackle or chatter, also known as chirping. This noise could be a sign of frustration when your cat's instincts are telling them to hunt, but they're unable to act on them.

Are cats happy when they chirp?

Cats aren’t usually happy when they chirp, as it's thought to be a sign of frustration. Both indoor and outdoor cats will chirp when they can see prey from inside the house. It's a sign that they want to be outside hunting, but they can't. If your cat is an indoor cat, it's essential to allow them to display their normal hunting behaviors through play so that the frustration doesn't lead to boredom or stress.

Why do cats cackle at birds?

Cats often cackle at birds and other prey animals like rodents and squirrels. This is because they instinctively want to stalk, chase, pounce, and hunt them, and they feel frustrated that they can't. If your cat regularly cackles, ensure they get enough physical and mental stimulation through toys and activities and consider obscuring windows where they can see lots of wildlife.

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About Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVETMED MRCVS

Hannah graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, UK in 2011 and began work straight away at a busy mixed practice. Initially, she treated all species, but as the small animal hospital became busier, she focussed on small animals. Hannah is an expert on cat behavior and nutrition.

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