Why Do Cats Chatter With Their Mouth?

Cats are fascinating creatures with a unique way of communicating their thoughts and feelings. From purring to hissing, they have a wide range of vocalizations that can convey different meanings. But have you ever heard your cat chattering with their mouth? It’s not just a cute quirk – there’s actually a fascinating reason behind this behavior.

Picture this: you’re walking through the park, and your cat sees a bird perched on a branch. Suddenly, you hear them making a series of rapid, high-pitched clicking sounds with their teeth. This sound is called chattering, and it’s believed to be a hunting technique that cats use to attract prey.

When cats chatter, it mimics the sound of bird wings flapping, which can trigger their natural hunting instincts. It’s most commonly observed when cats spot birds or other small prey through a window but are unable to reach them.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why cats chatter with their mouth and what it means for their behavior. We’ll also look at other possible explanations for this quirky behavior and discuss how we can encourage it in our feline friends. So let’s dive in and uncover the secrets behind one of the most intriguing behaviors of our furry companions.

What is Cat Chattering?

This unique behavior is known as cat chattering, or chittering, and it’s a fascinating aspect of feline behavior.

Cat chattering is characterized by the rapid opening and closing of a cat’s jaws while producing a chattering or chirping sound. This behavior is commonly observed when cats are observing prey animals through a window or in the wild. However, it’s important to note that cat chattering isn’t always related to hunting or prey. Cats may also chatter when they are feeling anxious, excited, or curious about something.

Theories abound about why cats chatter. Some experts believe that it’s an instinctual behavior that mimics the movement of a cat’s jaw when catching prey. Others suggest that it may be a way for cats to release pent-up excitement or frustration when they are unable to reach their prey. Another popular theory is that cat chattering is a form of communication between cats, signaling excitement or aggression towards another cat.

Interestingly, studies have shown that cats use different vocalizations to communicate with each other, and chattering may be just one more way for them to express themselves. Additionally, researchers have found that some cats will even chirp or chatter when they are interacting with humans they are particularly fond of.

Theories About Why Cats Chatter

Cats are fascinating creatures that often display intriguing behaviors. One such behavior is chattering, which occurs when a cat sees prey and makes a rapid movement with its jaw. While there may be no definitive answer as to why cats chatter, several theories have emerged.

Experts propose that chattering may be a way for cats to release pent-up energy when they see prey, indicating excitement or frustration. It could also serve as a practice drill for their hunting skills, allowing them to coordinate movements and time their attacks better. Additionally, some believe that the chattering sound is a form of communication between cats, signaling to other felines that prey has been spotted or excitement is present.

Finally, some experts suggest that chattering could be an involuntary response to the signal sent from the brain to the cat’s muscles when it sees prey. The jaw movement could be a reflexive behavior.

Innate Hunting Behavior Theory

Cats are fascinating creatures, and one of the most intriguing behaviors is their chattering with their mouths, especially when they see prey. But what’s behind this unique behavior? The innate hunting behavior theory provides some valuable insights into this.

This theory suggests that cats chatter with their mouth as a result of their natural instinct to hunt prey. When cats see a bird or other small prey, they become excited and begin to chatter with their mouth in an attempt to mimic the sound of the prey’s movements or vocalizations. This allows them to prepare for hunting by practicing their coordination and timing.

But chattering also serves another purpose. Domesticated cats may not have as many opportunities to hunt as their wild counterparts, leading to a buildup of energy and the need for an outlet. Chattering could be a way for cats to release some of this energy and satisfy their hunting instincts.

It’s worth noting that not all cats exhibit this behavior, and it may be more common among certain breeds or individuals. Additionally, some experts believe that chattering may also be a form of communication between cats, indicating excitement or anticipation.

Frustration and Excitement Release Theory

It’s a strange behavior that often leaves us wondering what’s going on in their mind. Luckily, the Frustration and Excitement Release Theory provides some insight into this unique behavior.

At its core, the Frustration and Excitement Release Theory suggests that cats chatter their teeth when they are frustrated or excited about something they cannot reach or catch. This instinctual behavior helps them release pent-up energy and practice their hunting skills.

So, what exactly causes the chattering sound? When a cat chatters, it’s due to rapid jaw muscle contractions, similar to the sound of human teeth chattering when we’re cold. However, in cats, it’s believed to be more of an automatic response than a conscious decision.

Cats are natural hunters, born with a strong instinct to hunt and catch prey. When they see something they want to catch but cannot reach, such as a bird outside a window or a mouse behind glass, their frustration and excitement levels increase. Chattering may be a physical manifestation of these emotions.

But chattering may also serve as a way for cats to practice their hunting skills. By mimicking the movements needed to catch prey, they may be preparing themselves for the real thing. This theory is supported by the fact that many cats also chatter when playing with toys or practicing hunting techniques.

Communication Theory

Communication theory defines communication as an exchange of information between two or more individuals using a common language or code, which in the case of cats, chattering may be a form of communication with other cats or their prey.

One possible explanation for this behavior is that chattering is a result of a cat’s frustration and excitement when they see prey they cannot reach. The chattering may serve as an outlet for pent-up energy and to signal their readiness to pounce. Another theory suggests that cats use chattering as a way to mimic the sounds of bird or rodent calls to lure their prey closer. This could be a learned behavior passed down from mother cats to their kittens.

Beyond hunting, chattering may also be a social behavior between cats. Just like humans, cats use various vocalizations to communicate with each other, such as meows, purrs, and hisses. Chattering could be a way for cats to express excitement or greet each other.

Is Cat Chattering Dangerous?

Let me assure you that cat chattering is usually not dangerous at all. In fact, it is a completely normal behavior for cats and is thought to be a sign of excitement or frustration. When a cat sees prey that they cannot reach, they may become excited and start making the chattering noise as a way of expressing their frustration. Some experts even believe that the chattering noise may mimic the sound of a bird’s wings flapping, which can further excite the cat.

However, there are some situations where cat chattering may be cause for concern. If your cat is chattering excessively or at inappropriate times, it could be a sign of an underlying medical issue such as dental problems or neurological disorders. It’s important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian to rule out any serious health problems.

Furthermore, if your cat is chattering outside and there are other animals around, it is important to keep a close eye on them to ensure their safety. Chattering can be a sign of heightened excitement or arousal, which can sometimes lead to aggressive behavior. If you notice your cat becoming overly agitated or aggressive, it’s best to remove them from the situation to prevent any potential injuries.

How to Deal With Excessive Cat Chattering?

While occasional chattering is normal behavior for cats, persistent chattering can be a sign of underlying issues that need to be addressed. Here are five effective ways to deal with excessive cat chattering.

Rule out medical issues

Take your cat to the vet to ensure there are no underlying medical issues causing the behavior. Excessive chattering may be a symptom of dental problems or neurological conditions.

Provide mental and physical stimulation

Boredom and frustration can cause excessive chattering. Provide your cat with plenty of toys, scratching posts, and playtime to keep them occupied and mentally stimulated.

Use distraction techniques

When your cat starts to chatter, try distracting them with toys or treats. This will redirect their focus and help them calm down.

Behavior modification

If your cat’s chattering is caused by anxiety or frustration, consider working with a professional animal behaviorist for guidance on how to address these issues. They can help you create a personalized plan to modify your cat’s behavior effectively.

Avoid punishment

Punishing your cat for excessive chattering can worsen the behavior and increase their anxiety. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement by providing your cat with a safe and comfortable environment. Reward good behavior with treats and praise.


In conclusion, the enigmatic behavior of cat chattering continues to intrigue cat owners worldwide. This peculiar sound is achieved by cats rapidly opening and closing their jaws while producing a chattering or chirping noise. Although there are various theories about why cats chatter, it is apparent that this instinctual behavior imitates the movement of a cat’s jaw when catching prey.

Chattering can also be viewed as an outlet for cats to release pent-up excitement or frustration when they cannot access their prey. Additionally, it may serve as a form of communication between cats, indicating enthusiasm or hostility towards another feline.

While chattering is typically harmless, excessive chattering could signify underlying medical issues such as dental problems or neurological disorders. To manage excessive chattering, it is critical to first rule out any underlying medical concerns and then offer mental and physical stimulation for your furry friend. Distraction techniques and behavior modification can also aid in decreasing excessive chattering.

Overall, comprehending why cats chatter enables us to gain a better understanding of our feline companions and their natural instincts.