If you have 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 maintains an intense focus on something, their whiskers are pulled in front of the mouth and their jaws vibrate quickly. After all, it's not regular feline behavior 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 actually happening or try to figure out if your dear kitty is trying to communicate something with his or her cat sounds.
Why do cats chatter 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 haven't discovered exactly 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 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 that in these conditions cats chatter due to anticipation or frustration. 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 that 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, there is another one that 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 special noise.
The domesticated cat is chattering her jaw as a way to show off her enthusiasm for being able to engage 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 making clicking sound somewhere in the house, rest assured that there is nothing wrong. It's just one of the cute things kitties do! Anyway, whenever your cat is doing something and you're not sure whether it's ok or not, it's always best to double-check.
Like learning about cat behavior? You might enjoy this book: CatWise: America's Favorite Cat Expert Answers Your Cat Behavior Questions
Why do cats click their teeth?
While scientists have yet to provide an exact reason behind the clicking sound that cats make, it is clearly a sound they make 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 they're excited to play with their masters. Another potential reason is a frustration for not being able to catch their prey.
What does it mean when a cat makes a clicking sound?
It is not clear what the clicking sound means exactly, but it usually suggests that the cat is very excited, be it 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. Keep in mind that another reason could be frustration, so keep an eye 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 somewhat similar to bird sounds, so one theory behind the clicking sound is that cats make it to attract birds, to get them to come closer, which would give them an advantage when hunting. The cat is very alert when chattering, it's ready to hunt its prey. Another theory is that the cat makes the sound because it's frustrated with not being able to get to the bird.
What do we mean by a cat chattering?
Chattering is another name for the trill or clicking sound that cats make with their teeth. Chattering, chittering, or twittering all refer to this sound that the cat makes when it is titillated 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 that the cat is about to attack, clicking means that it's simply excited to hunt. So excited, in fact, that it might even be frustrated with not being able to catch its prey. This is particularly true when cats see birds or other animals through windows. Knowing that they can't get to the much-desired bird is bound to make them quite mad.
Why do cats chatter 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 when they're feeling frustrated with not being able to get to their prey or toys. When they make this sound, they're usually alert, they have dilated pupils, and they're 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 take a look at its teeth to make sure 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:
In the vast majority of cases, when a cat clicks, it is very very excited about something. It can be playing - with you, a toy, or both - or it can be 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.
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 extremely excited to catch it, frustration builds up and twittering is its way of expressing it. If your cat is very excited to play with you with a toy or a laser, but it can't catch it, you might hear it making the clicking sound.
Chattering May Simulate a Kill Bite
Another theory for what's behind the clicking sound that 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, such as when it's 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. Open the cat's mouth, if you can, and take a look at its teeth to see if they are intact. Look for inflammation of the gums or other lesions in the oral cavity. If you can't open the cat's mouth and take a good look inside its mouth, then take the cat to the veterinarian for a dental examination. Keep in mind that dental issues are usually accompanied by other symptoms as well, such as the cat not being able to eat properly.
Why do cats chatter at humans?
When cats chatter at humans, it's not likely they're getting ready to hunt them, but rather with them. They make the sound because they're very excited to play with their pet parents. You might also notice them meowing or kneading because they're very happy.
This usually happens in the middle of playing with a laser or a toy, when the cat is alert and fully engaged in playing. It happens when that rush of dopamine and adrenaline kicks in and the cat is signaling you to keep playing with it.
It can also mean that it's frustrated with you because you're not throwing the toy or playing your part in the game and chittering may be the cat's way of getting your attention. Observe your cat to find out what it wants to tell you by chattering at you.
Does your cat chatter at birds or toys?