CattyCorner: Why Do Cats Chatter At Birds

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on July 22, 2020

Greetings my pawesome human minions.

This morning I was enjoying the sunrise from the kitchen windowsill when my dad sat down beside me. He was quiet, sipping his coffee, while I purred at the sun. It was nice watching the morning with him. But our peace was suddenly destroyed by a bird landing in the grass.

Now, I don’t care about every bird that flits around the yard. If I did, I’d spend my life in a tizzy.

I’m not a silly kitten anymore, haven’t been for a long while now. Most birds are just pleasing to watch at this point, but this one bird.

cat watching bird

We have history.

Her clump of missing tail feathers is courtesy of my fast right paw.

But, as I was saying, she landed in the yard and started singing her mocking song right at me. I got so overwhelmed in thoughts of catching her, I started chattering my jaw, chirping out a few special words just for the bird.

Dad broke his silence at that moment and I jumped, so engrossed as I’d been, when he asked, “Forrest, why do cats chatter at birds?”

Close Your Eyes and Imagine

To answer that, let me first ask you, my human friends, to envision your favorite food. One you don’t get very often, but when you do it just makes you exclaim or groan with the goodness of it. You’re excited to be having this dish.

Just like many cats feel when presented with the idea of self-caught bird.


Mmm, just thinking about those tasty morsels on wing, my nemesis, in particular, makes my jaw start chattering. Even now, I’m licking my lips. My mouth just waters at the thought of fresh mockingbird.

Ha, mock me now, will ya?

Sorry, where was I?

The chattering at birds and why cats do it.


Essentially, as you’ve already seen here thanks to my distraction, cats chirp and chatter when excited.

Sometimes the chatters and chirps are born of frustration. Like the bird in my yard. She excites and frustrates me. And one day, I will catch her!

But when that moment comes, I will not be making a sound.

For hunting, stealth is a must. Chirps. Chatters. Not good.

And all felines are capable of the silence. As a car parent, you know it too. Your cat might thunder down the hall in the loudest display of pawsteps ever, but when it comes to pouncing the lizard that dared come inside, the same kitty will move with the silence of shadows.

cat chatter bird

Say that same lizard is on the other side of the window glass though. And kitty can’t get to the scaly snack. Well, expect some chattering. Anticipation, excitement, frustration, maybe all of the above, will have your cat talking about the lizard she can’t get between her paws.

There you have it. We chirp at birds or chatter at rodents because we’re anticipating the catch. And on that note, I’m starving thinking about a certain mockingbird, so as always, let me remind you…

Don’t forget to feed the cat.


Feature Image: @kairi_and_chloe_and_antonia/Instagram

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