Why does my cat make sounds like a bark when stalking something?

Our question this week was:

Why does my cat bark when he is stalking something?

Danielle Wood


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote asking why your cat makes a funny sound almost like a bark when stalking things.

Sometimes when your indoor cat watches “prey,” like birds or a squirrel, through a window, or sometimes just sees them on television, he makes a chattering sound. The cat opens his mouth slightly, pulls his lips back, and then opens and closes his jaws very quickly. The noise that results is a cross between lip smacking and teeth chattering. If he is really excited, he might add a vocal utterance that sounds almost like a cry. To some, this might sound like a bark.

That noise is more instinctual than many of us realize. Feline behavioral specialists have noted the similarity of the noise to one made by cats delivering a special neck bite when killing a bird or small rodent. Cats can deliver this bite quickly and efficiently causing death before the prey has a chance to struggle.

Dr. Debra

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