What Causes Cats to Make a Clicking Noise?

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Cat lying on its side
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Pet behaviorists and veterinarians alike have contemplated the whys and wherefores of the clicking noises that cats occasionally make as they stare longingly at unattainable prey items. Sometimes referred to as stuttering, the clicking happens when the cat moves its jaws in a rapid-fire manner. The precise trigger for these clicks remains shrouded in mystery.

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There's Something Happening Here

When your cat parts her lips slightly and opens and closes her jaws in rapid succession, she produces a staccato clicking noise that sounds like a cross between chattering teeth and smacking lips. If she's really riled, pitiful little cries may accompany the clicking.

What It Is Ain't Exactly Clear

Jaw clicking typically occurs when your indoor puss spies a yummy prey item such as a bug, bird or squirrel through the window, possibly indicating frustration or excitement. Certain pet behaviorists believe that the cat associates the desired prey item so closely with the movements her jaw makes during the kill that she's priming the muscles, anticipating the coup de grace while producing audible jaw clicks. Others have noted that the clicking noise is similar to the sounds that a cat makes as she delivers a deadly neck bite to a prey animal. Maybe jaw clicking is just your kitty's way of keeping the lid on her nearly uncontrollable excitement as she feasts her eyes on glorious food she can't reach. The motivation behind the clicks appears to be a secret she intends to keep to herself.