Cat Making Clicking Sound – Why Do Cats Chatter?

Why Do Cats Chatter, cats with their mouths open

If you have had a cat for a while, you might have seen a reaction like this a few times already.

Sometimes you’ll hear a cat clicking noise through their mouth. This is known as ‘chattering.’ S/he focuses intensely on something, their whiskers are pulled in front of the mouth, and their jaws vibrate quickly. After all, it’s not typical feline or dog behavior, and these jaw clicks can even scare you into a vet visit.

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It might be fascinating or even quite funny to watch when s/he’s doing this. But you might wonder what is happening or if your dear kitty is trying to communicate something with their cat sounds.

Why Do Cats Chatter With Their Teeth? Is It Ok?

Don’t worry. This behavior is normal. It’s not a sign of oral discomfort or any trouble. So don’t worry; you won’t need any extra pet insurance. Cat experts have yet to discover precisely why kitties produce the chirping sound, so the true meaning isn’t completely understood. However, there are a few theories out there that explain this cat chirp, chirps, and chatters.

Usually, you’ll notice your cat chattering at birds. Experts explain that seeing birds can unleash a cat’s wild instincts and make her wish to practice her hunting skills.
Therefore, chattering could be a kind of vocal manipulation as the cat copies the calls of a bird, which in this case is the prey. This use of vocal mimicry can serve as a hunting tool.

Cat behavior specialists think cats chatter due to anticipation or frustration in these conditions. For example, if the cat is looking out the window and can’t catch a bird, s/he might be frustrated because she won’t be able to hunt.
The chattering noise can be related to the readiness to perform and take down the prey. The movement is similar to the killing bite the cat would use as a hunter.

When your cat is doing this, you can distract her with a toy. In this way, she can chase down and capture something. Moreover, you can enjoy her full attention.
However, there are other situations when your cat might chatter even if there is no possible prey around.

Why Is My Cat Chattering at Me?

Apart from the predator theory, another one suggests that chattering noises are triggered by excitement. This is most likely what happens when the cat is so delighted to see something that she shows her happiness by making a unique noise.

The domesticated cat is chattering her jaw to show off her enthusiasm for engaging in a pleasant activity such as playing with the laser pointer or spending time with you. It’s not even unusual to see your car chattering at a fly or to catch birds. They even sometimes chatter and chirp or while watching the birds.

Next time you see your cat chattering at birds or hear your cat clicking somewhere in the house, rest assured that there is nothing wrong. It’s just one of the cute things kitties do! Anyway, it’s always best to double-check whenever your cat is doing something and you’re unsure whether it’s ok.

Do you like learning about cat behavior?  Then, you might enjoy this book: CatWise: America’s Favorite Cat Expert Answers Your Cat Behavior Questions.

Book cover for Cat Wise

Or Think Like a Cat

Book cover for "Think Like a Cat"

Why Do Cats Click Their Teeth?

While scientists have yet to provide an exact reason behind the clicking, they make a sound when they are very excited about an activity. Most of the time, this is hunting. Cats make this sound when they’re about to try to catch birds, which suggests it might be related to imitating bird sounds to attract them. However, cats also click their teeth when excited to play with their masters. Another potential reason is frustration for not being able to catch their prey.

What Does It Mean When a Cat Makes a Clicking Sound?

The reason behind this behavior is unclear. Still, it usually suggests that the cat is very excited about hunting, playing, or just being close to its master. Try to observe your cat’s body language to see when it makes the clicking sound. This might provide you with more information about what your cat wants to say when it’s making that sound. Remember that another reason could be frustration, so watch out to see if that’s the case.

When Do Cats Chatter?

Cats usually chatter when they’re close to birds and want to catch them. The sound they make is similar to bird sounds, so one theory behind the clicking sound is that cats attract birds to get them to come closer, which gives them an advantage when hunting. The cat is vigilant when chattering. It’s ready to hunt its prey. Another theory is that the cat makes the sound because it’s frustrated with being unable to get to the bird.

What Do We Mean by “Cat Chattering?”

Chattering is another name for cats’ trill or clicking sounds with their teeth. Chattering, chittering, or twittering all refer to this sound that the cat makes when it is fascinated by seeing a bird, a mouse, a squirrel, or another animal it would like to hunt.

Is Cat Chattering a Predator Thing?

It absolutely is. Cat chattering suggests that the cat is ready and eager to hunt. If hissing suggests the cat is about to attack, clicking means it’s excited to hunt. So excited, in fact, it might even be frustrated with being unable to catch its prey. This is particularly true when cats see birds or other animals through windows. Knowing they can’t get to the much-desired bird will make them mad.

Why Do Cats Chatter With Their Teeth? Is It Ok?

Yes, it absolutely is, or at least in the right circumstances. Cats chatter (and it’s absolutely normal) when they’re either very excited to play or hunt or feel frustrated with being unable to get to their prey or toys. When they make this sound, they’re usually alert, have dilated pupils, and are in hunting or play positions.

If you hear the sound, but the cat is not alert, not near toys, birds, squirrels, or other potential prey, then you should look at its teeth to ensure it does not have dental issues. But let’s dive deeper into these potential meanings for the clicking/chattering sound and the mood they might suggest:

Cat Excitement

In most cases, when a cat clicks, it is very excited about something. It can be playing – with you, a toy, or both – or hunting – a bird, a mouse, a squirrel, anything that might spark its predator instincts. Scientists explain that chattering might be related to the flow of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine (the happiness hormone), cortisol, or adrenaline, which are aimed to equip the cat for hunting.

Frustration Emotion

Scientists point out that chattering may also be related to frustration. When the cat can’t get to its toy or prey, even though it is incredibly excited to catch it, frustration builds up, and twittering is its way of expressing it. So, for example, if your cat is excited to play with you with a toy or a laser, but it can’t catch it, you might hear it clicking.

Chattering May Simulate a Kill Bite

Another theory behind the clicking sound cats make is that they’re exercising their jaws to get ready to unleash the “kill bite.” This is when the cat grabs its prey by the neck and pulls hard to kill it. So, if your cat is preparing to attack a bird or a mouse and it’s chattering, it might be getting ready for the decisive move.

Chattering May Indicate Dental Problems

If you notice your cat making the clicking sound in odd circumstances- not playing, when no birds or other potential prey is in sight, when it’s not clearly excited about something- then it might be a sign of dental problems. First, open the cat’s mouth, if you can, and look at its teeth to see if they are intact. Next, look for inflammation of the gums or other lesions in the oral cavity.

If you can’t open the cat’s mouth and look inside, take the cat to the veterinarian for a dental examination. Remember that dental issues usually accompany other symptoms, such as the cat’s inability to eat correctly.

Why Do Cats Chatter at Humans?

When cats chatter at humans, they’re not likely getting ready to hunt them but rather with them. They make the sound because they’re excited to play with their pet parents. You might also notice them meowing or kneading because they’re delighted.

This usually happens while playing with a laser or a toy when the cat is alert and fully engaged. It happens when that rush of dopamine and adrenaline kicks in, and the cat signals you to keep playing with it.

It can also mean it’s frustrating for them because you’re not throwing the toy or playing your part in the game. Chittering may be the cat’s way of getting your attention. Observe your cat to determine what it’s trying to tell you while chattering at you.


Does your cat chatter at birds or toys?

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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9 Comments

  1. I was really hoping to learn why my Ragdoll chatters at my oldest granddaughter. Our family moved in with us when she was about 10 yo and she will be 15 this year. She has been doing this for five years since our cat was 1 yo. As they were getting to know each other my granddaughter would talk to our cat and get up close, face to face. We weren’t really sure if our cat liked it or not but told our grand not to do it anymore. Our cat still chatters when she is nearby. Any thoughts?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ve seen two cats do this to nesting swallows that swoop at them and sit out of reach. Neither cat was stalking or alert at the time. It seemed as though they were more annoyed or frustrated. This was two separate incidents. The Tom was much louder and not looking at the birds. The female was lazily watching a sitting bird when it would chirp and actually tried to include some mimicking at times. Very interesting.

  3. My cat does it at birds, but also whenever I go to ignite my lighter he does it. Is it maybe because of the sound of the lighter? Looked everywhere and no answers anywhere! Plz help, anyone else have it happen to them?

    1. Interesting – never heard of it – maybe it’s a similar sound for him.

  4. Wonderful post & video & pics, Jenny! Like, Patricia, I also refer to this behavior as chirping. Miss PSB has started doing this over the past two years more and more and we LURVE it when she chirps!! To us, it represents that she’s happy and excited about something and is trying to let us know! She’ll usually dash into the living room like a cheetah on cocaine and jump on her infinity scratch and look at her daddy or me and chirp! My heart melts every single time! It is usually an invitation for us to engage her in a little conversation where we ask if she’s excited or has a woobie (fetch toy) she wants to play with, etc…and sometimes will begin a game of chase with me down the hallway! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

  5. Patricia McDermott says:

    I call it chirping and I’m convinced that they are saying “come here to me” hahaha. I love how their whiskers get when they chatter!

    1. why “chirping”? sounds like “chatter” when mine do it – do yours make a chirp noise?

      1. The sound Miss PSB makes is definitely more of a chirp (kind of a chortling chirpy sound is the best way to describe it). Cutest thing ever! 🙂 <3

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