Categories: Sounds

Do domestic cats chuff?

Domestic cats don’t chuff. Tigers chuff. It is a form of communication made at close range and part of the tiger’s greeting behaviour. The tiger chuff is sometimes described as a ‘prusten’. I believe that they are the same sound. It is a staccato puffing sound.

Domestic cat chattering not chuffing.

There may be some confusion because on the internet there is a video (see below) which Google picks up and presents on the first page of its search results of a domestic cat making a sound which is described as chuffing.

This is not chuffing in my opinion. Domestic cats do not chuff as mentioned. This is a cat chattering at the sight and sound of his or her owner making a clicking sound with an object which is out of the frame and which creates a response in the cat as if he is looking at a bird.

You may have seen domestic cats chattering (see a page on this). Domestic cats often look out of the window at a bird and they may start chattering their jaws. It is believed that this is domestic cats practising the killing bite into the nape of a bird’s neck to kill it. Because the cat is unable to get at the bird he simply chatters as an act of frustration and practice – a “tooth-rattling stutter”. In this instance the cat is making a sound at the same time. Perhaps it is a vestigial you form of purring because he is content which when combined with the chattering produces what the videomaker has described as a chuff.

To reiterate, domestic cats do not chuff. The word chuff relates exclusively to the close range conversation between much larger cats, in this instance the tiger.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • My cats chuff at each other at night when they see each other and are ready to play. I know what chattering is as both chatter at birds all the time. They both exhibit the characteristics of chuffing as their mouths are closed and they bob their heads. I don't think you should be making absolutes in this field.

  • They say that domesticated cats don’t chuff. Then if that is true my cat is truly the exception. Because I heard him do it

    • Just saw your post. I had a domestic cat that also chuffed and I filmed it. I definitely know the difference between chattering and chuffing, so I think whoever wrote this article is incorrect.

      • Gina, I wrote it and I still believe I am correct :) - thanks for commenting. You have earned 5c for a cat welfare charity.

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