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CHIRPING AND CHATTERING

These are prey-directed sounds which may originate from a hunting instinct, where cats copy the calls of their prey, e.g. when a bird or insect catches their attention (by making a sound) and the cat becomes riveted to the prey, and starts to chirp, tweet and chatter. If we listen carefully, we can identify several subtypes of these sounds with slightly diffferent phonetic characteristics:

  • chattering (teeth chattering): unvoiced very quick stuttering or clicking sequences of sounds with the jaws juddering, e.g. [k̟= k̟= k̟= k̟= k̟=]
  • chirping: voiced short calls said to be mimicking a bird or rodent chirp, sound similar to a high-pitched phone ring, tone often rises near the end, e.g. [ʔə] or reiterated [ʔɛʔɛʔɛ...]
  • tweeting: soft weak chirps, often without any clear initial [ʔ] and with varying vowel qualities, e.g. [wi] or [ɦɛu]
  • tweedling (warbling): prolonged chirps or tweets, often with some voice modulation, like tremor or quaver, e.g. [ʔəɛəɰə]

The image to the right shows the phonetic characteristics (waveform, spectrogram and pitch contour) and gives an audio example of a short sequence of a domestic cat chirping and chattering.

ROCKY CHATTERS AND CHIRPS

In this video clip, the domestic cat Rocky chatters and chirps at a bird ourside the window, then jumps down and approaches the window.

TURBO CHIRPS BY THE WINDOW

The domestic cat Turbo chirps at a bird, then looses interest and makes a trilling sound while jumping down. He often trills (chirrs, murmurs) as he jumps down from a chair or table.

DONNA CHIRPS BY THE WINDOW

In this short video, the domestic cat Donna chirps at a bird outside the window, and then trills softly.

ROCKY TWEETS AT BIRDS

This video clip shows the domestic cat Rocky tweeting and chirping softly at birds outside the window.

ROCKY TWEEDLES

Some cats can produce longer melodic or voice-modulated tweeting or chirping sounds, which I call tweedle. In this short video Rocky combines tweedles with tweets and chirps.