Anyone who lives with a cat (or four—where my cat ladies at?) has heard more than just the occasional “meow.” Felines are highly vocal, and they regularly howl, hiss and purr. But it’s their chirping that comes off as one of their more unique sounds.
If you haven’t heard it, chirping sounds like a high-pitched, vocalized trilling—almost as if your cat is rolling her R’s and meowing at the same time. Kitties of all ages can make this noise by blowing air through their vocal chords without opening their mouths.
Though some cat fanatics argue that chirping is a feline’s attempt to mimic bird calls in order to lure prey in for the kill, chirping is actually much less sinister. The Humane Society of the United States tells us that mother cats chirp and trill to signal kittens to follow their lead. It’s a method of gathering the whole family together for a grooming session or meal time. In time, kittens learn to make their own chirps in response to mama, letting her know they’re down with dinner or want to play.
Several cat behaviorists agree with this theory, like Dr. Janice Huntingford of PetWellBeing. According to Dr. Huntingford, when your cat chirps, she’s basically saying, “I love you, wanna play?” However, if the chirping becomes more persistent or urgent, your cat might be trying to get your attention for a specific reason, so keep your ears open.
Fun fact: I tested out my own chirping skills on my gray tabby, trilling at her like a mama cat. Let’s just say, Foxy looked at me like I was an alien and ran down the hall into an empty Amazon box. So. I’ll leave the chirping to her from now on.