Why Do Cats Trill? What It Means

By Phil / November 26, 2019
Why Do Cats Trill

Of all the noises my cats make, trilling is one of the more interesting. But why exactly do cats trill? What are they trying to communicate to us by making this noise?

You know the noise I’m talking about, right?

Trills sound like a short vibrating noise, often mixed in with a purr or a meow. It’s similar to how we roll our Rs when we pronounce some words.

Why Do Cats Trill?

First of all, I can confirm it’s a happy noise they use to communicate with us. If your cat trills it’s a good sign, I’ve read plenty of accounts from cat behavioral experts that agree with this.

When does your cat trill?

Mine trill and make other similar noises when:

  • They’re greeting me, or each other
  • When I’m about to feed them and they’re getting under my feet and weaving around my legs
  • When I’m petting and stroking them (mixed in with some purring)
  • If they are doing a spot of bird watching from their window perch

As you can see, they make trilling noises when they’re doing things they enjoy – so it’s always something I’m happy to hear.

There there are some fringe examples of elderly cats making these noises as they get a little more confused in their old age too. So, that’s something to keep in mind if your cat is becoming more vocal.

Why Do Cats Communicate by Trilling?

According to an article by Hillspet, mother cats trill or chirp as a way of communicating with their kittens. Usually to get their attention so they’ll follow, announce it’s time to eat, or just do some mothering things like keeping them in line.

Therefore, it’s no surprise when a cat makes a trilling noise to get your attention. Cats grow up continuing to do a lot of the things their mothers taught them. That’s a mother’s job, after all, to teach them how to survive in the world.

So, don’t be surprised if your cat is making this noise to tell you to pay them attention, Or, to feed them (first), pet them, and make it clear to you that they’re enjoying whatever you’re doing.

What Does a Cat Trilling Sound Like?

If you have audio on, the best way to understand what a trill sounds like is to listen to the kitty in this video:

To describe trilling, it’s kind of like when we roll an R when we speak. You’ve probably heard Spanish people rollings Rs, as it’s quite common the Spanish dialect. Like “Arriba”, or “Arrrrrriba” if you really want to emphasis the trill.

I’ve read quite a few accounts as to how cats make a trilling noise, and it seems like no one really knows exactly how – a bit like purring. Watching my cat, she seems to vocalize a trill while her mouth is closed, often mixing it with a little meow while pushing air out.

Why Does My Cat Trill When Seeing Me?

If your cat trills when they see you they are demonstrating that they’re happy to see you. As I discussed earlier, these are happy sounds and it’s their way of letting you know they’re happy to see you.

Even if it does mean their real agenda is being fed. 🙂

Cat Breeds That Trill The Most

Cat Breeds That Trill The Most

All breeds of cat can trill. Although for the most part, it comes down to the individual cat’s personality.

If you want to adopt a cat that you can chat and trill with, some cat breeds are known for being more vocal than others. Here are some of the most vocal breeds according to Purina:

  • American Bobtail
  • Balinese-Javanese
  • Bengal
  • Burmese
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Ocicat
  • Peterbald
  • Siamese
  • Sphynx
  • Tonkinese
  • Turkish Van

Why Do Cats Chirp?

You may have noticed your cat making chirping, chattering, chittering, or twittering noises when they see some kind of prey out of a window.

Cats do this when they’re interested in, or provoked by prey that they know they can’t get to through a pane of glass. It’s more of a way they voice their frustration than it is a noise they make while hunting.

Cats actually have a wide range of noises they can use to vocalize what they’re thinking. They can meow, chirp, trill, chatter, purr, yowl, growl, hiss, cry, and caterwaul. It’s interesting to pay attention to the noises your cat makes, and what they’re doing when they’re making them.

Why Does My Cat Trill and Run Away?

If your cat trills then runs away he/she is probably trying to ask you to follow.

Next time they do this, follow them to see where they go. I’ll bet they head straight to the food cupboard, but you never know, they might have something else to show you.

Why Do Cats Trill When They Jump?

Why Do Cats Trill When They Jump

The same reason applies if your cat makes a trilling noise while jumping. They probably want you to follow them or make you take notice. Kind of like, “Hey, bet you can’t follow where I’m going.”

And you probably can’t, because you’re not an agile cat capable of jumping around 6 times your own height. But don’t tell them that!

In Summary – Trilling, Meowing, and All Things Chatty

Cat vocalizations are interesting, they give us some insight into what our feline friends and thinking, doing, and trying to tell us.

The good news is that trilling is almost certainly an indication that your cat is happy and enjoying your company, so embrace it. 

Does your cat make a lot of happy noises or any unique and interesting sounds? Feel free to share with the community below, thanks.

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