The ferocious feline makes an entrance.


My cat was a neighborhood terror. He was a giant tuxedo cat with a love of pouncing on leaves, bugs, the toes of the person who fed him—he wasn't discriminating. What he really wanted, though, was a bird. He never caught one, but he would stalk them if he was outside. If he was inside, he would stare out the giant picture window and watch for them. While he stared down his prey, he would make the strangest, chirping noise. Specifically, he would chatter.

Chattering, which is also called chittering, chirping, or twittering, is one of the many noises that cats use to communicate. While meowing, hissing, and purring are a little more common, showing up when cats want food or to set boundaries, chattering is usually a response to spotting prey. Chattering usually starts when the little hunter spots a bird or squirrel moving about and those killer instincts kick in. According to Daily Paws, your cat may go full hunter mode while it chatters away. "Her eyes may widen, her pupils may dilate, and her ears may tilt forward. She's concentrating hard and her body shows it," they report.

cat standing at a window
Credit: Getty Images

As to why cats chatter, Daily Paws spoke to author and cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger, who believes it is an instinctual response "caused by neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, as well as the hormone cortisol/adrenaline that is released into the system." There may be a simpler explanation, though. Cats may be chittering away at windows, staring out at their distant prey for a very relatable reason: frustration. They have all those hunting instincts and nowhere to use them, Krieger said. My cat certainly seemed annoyed at the pane of glass keeping him from his dream prey.  If your cat is chittering (or chattering or chirping or twittering) away at the window, consider tossing them a toy to pounce on to help them get out their pent-up aggression and use those hunting skills.

That said, while chattering is usually pretty innocuous, if your cat is chittering a lot, chattering its teeth, or salivating a surprising amount while chittering, it may be worth talking to a vet to make sure all is well.