Why do cats chirp at birds?

Ever wonder why cats love to chatter at birds, especially when they watch them from behind the window of your house? There are many reasons for this instinctive cat behavior, chief among them the urge to kill.

According to the non-profit American Bird Conservancy (ABC), “prey by domestic cats is the number one direct, human-caused threat to birds” in the US and Canada.

Outdoor cats kill approximately 2.4 billion birds each year in the US alone. The figure represents the “combined effect of millions of outdoor cats”. Outdoor domestic cats are listed among the world’s worst non-native invasive species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Findings from a January 2013 peer-reviewed study by scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, published in nature communication, suggested that “free-ranging cats cause significantly higher wildlife mortality rates than previously thought.”

Experts told newsweek Why do cats chirp at birds and will they eat them too?

A cat is staring at a bird sitting on a branch. Sometimes a cat’s chatter can express frustration at not being able to catch the bird.
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Why do cats chatter at birds?


Cats can’t help but get excited when they see potential prey. Vicki Joe Harrison, president of The International Cat Association (TICA), told newsweek, When cats look at birds from a window their “hunting instincts take over”.

“Their enthusiasm at the prospect of prey causes them to chirp and can also be combined with a swooping tail,” she said. “Their chirping is an expression of joy, much like the squeak of a child when given a gift.”

Pam Johnson-Bennett, author of Cat Behavior Associates and Zazie Todd, author of the upcoming book PURR: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy, Agree that chatter can indicate enthusiasm.

According to one theory, “this is how the cat controls the stimulus when searching for potential prey. In other words, cats keep the secret to themselves,” Johnson-Bennett reported. Greeley Tribune.

A Cat Is Chattering Through A Window.
A cat is looking out the window. Cats chirp at a bird because of the excitement of the prospect of prey.
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preparing for the jump

Another possible reason for chattering is that “it is a reflex motion before attempting to bite the victim’s neck,” Johnson-Bennett said.

TICA’s Harrison said that by imitating the sound of the bird, the cat expects the bird to get closer “so that it can pounce and catch its prey.”

According to the TICA president, cats may display some of the following physical gestures while chirping at the bird.

  • Ears point up, slightly forward.
  • Eyes wide, pupils zigzag chasing birds.
  • The mustache pointed forward, away from the face.
  • The tail was caught low and was likely shaking.

These are signs that your kitten is “hyper-focused on birds that can see it” and that the chirping is a side effect, Harrison explained. “Chirring is also a way for cats to communicate with other felines that they have seen prey.”


Johnson-Bennett said that according to some experts, chattering may express a cat’s frustration at not being able to catch the bird.

This is especially the case when “a window is in the way” of a cat’s ability to catch a bird, Todd pointed out. newsweek,

“Unfortunately, excitement can quickly turn into despair,” Harrison said. “Eventually the chirps become more agitated, out of frustration when they are unable to catch the bird through the window, adding to the anticipation.”

A Cat Is Staring At A Pigeon From The Window.
A cat is looking at a dove outside the window. Cats can’t help but get excited when they see potential prey.
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Do cats eat birds?

Todd said: “Sometimes cats will catch, kill and eat birds.” Cats are small predators and are capable of catching their own food, mainly rats, if left to their own devices. “We highly valued that housing potential,” she said.

But when fed to felines by people, they generally prefer the pet food that is given to them. “After all, it’s designed to be tasty and not clogged with bones and sinuses,” Todd said. .

Johnson-Bennett explained: “Cats are opportunistic hunters. They chase a variety of smaller prey, depending on what is available.” So birds will be no exception.

How to stop cats from catching birds

According to Todd, some recent research suggests that cats are much less likely to catch birds if they are fed a high-protein diet and have regular play time.

“Even when fed by their humans, cats still have that predatory instinct. That’s why it’s so important for us that we don’t play with our cat with a stick toy or similar. so they still engage in those violent behaviors,” the author explained.

For cats with outdoor access, another safety measure you can take is to have the cat wear a “BirdsbySafe” collar bib when they are outside. Todd said the birds could see the bright colors on the bib and fly away before the cat caught it.

“But cats vary greatly in their hunting behavior and catch some things a lot more than others,” she said.

A Cat With A Bird In Its Mouth.
A cat holds a bird in its mouth. While cats eat birds, they generally prefer the pet food given to them because it is designed to be tasty.
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