Trilling is a chirping, high-pitched sound that cats use to greet people or other cats. It is a greeting sound that signals a cat is happy to see someone. Cats also use this sound to communicate and express themselves.
Cats’ trilling is a positive sound that mother cats teach their kittens to encourage them to follow. It is a high-pitched sound that can be compared to the gentle cooing of a pigeon. Cats often trill to call their owners, greet people and other cats, or get attention.
A cat’s trilling is rarely a sign that something is wrong. As a cat gets older and more needy, the frequency with which it makes this sound may increase.
While trilling is a pleasant sound, there is also a lot of meaning behind it. Cats are expressive and communicative animals, and trilling is one of many ways they communicate.
What is Trilling in Cats?
Cats make several sounds, including meows, purrs, chirps, and hisses.
However, trilling is the only sound made with the mouth closed. Instead of expelling air, the cat expels it through its vocal cords.
To make the same sound, humans would have to force air through their flattened lips, make a farting sound, and hum a melody while doing so.
The result is a high-pitched, bird-like sound. It also sounds like a series of very high-rolled Rs. However, the sound is made in the same soft voice as a purr.
The sound lasts only a few seconds. But cats can repeat the trill several times quickly, especially when they are happy. They can also increase the frequency if they want attention.
Cats learn to trill during nursing and weaning when the mother makes a trilling sound to encourage kittens to follow her.
The kittens, in turn, learn the sound and mimic it to greet their mother or get her attention.
Cats adopt this sound into adulthood. It becomes part of their general communication methods.
Why Do Cats Trill?
Why a cat trills depends on its temperament and personality.
Usually, it is a positive sign indicating the cat is comfortable and confident around its owner.
Here are the most common reasons why a cat makes a trilling sound.
The most common reason a cat trills is to say hello. A cat makes this sound to greet people or other cats, expressing joy and affection.
Since cats only meow to communicate with humans, trilling is common in cat-to-cat interactions.
In addition to trilling, a cat may rub its head against its owner’s legs or lift its back to encourage its owner to pet it.
If your cat begins associating trilling with seeking attention, she may become louder and use trilling more frequently.
Call to Come
For a kitten, trilling means following its mother, who makes the sound to summon her kittens. Therefore, your cat is probably doing the same thing to you.
Whether your cat wants to be fed or needs attention, trilling is used by some cats as a call for awareness.
If this is the case, your cat may walk away while maintaining eye contact to encourage you to follow.
Attached cats love attention and may trill to get your attention. Trilling is a non-threatening, soft, gentle sound.
Cats are intelligent animals and know that the most effective way to get what they want is to make a pleasant sound that appeals to our caring streak.
This is also why many scientists and researchers compare a cat’s meow to a baby’s cry.
A scientific study backs this up. It describes how cats produce different types of meows for different purposes.
Cats are communicative and use a variety of sounds to communicate with other cats and humans.
Some breeds, like the Siamese or Maine Coon, are more talkative than others and make sounds more regularly than quieter breeds.
Sometimes, you can have a conversation with your cat, too. By mimicking and trilling your cat, you can form a closer bond.
You may even begin to understand what her specific sounds mean and be able to develop your own language with her.
If you pet a sleepy or unsuspecting cat and she responds with a trill, you’ve surprised your cat.
Trilling is another way for the cat to jump up but in a friendly way. Your cat also returns your affection with a greeting.
This shows that your cat is comfortable around you and doesn’t mind being woken up by you.
Some cats become aggressive when awakened, but a trill shows your cat is content.
Do All Cats Trill?
Cats with lively personalities are likelier to trill, but not all cats do. It depends mostly on character.
Cats that are shy or aggressive by nature may never trill. Nervous cats that dislike being around people may not trill either.
It is not unnatural for a cat not to trill.
Cats abandoned at birth or raised with an absent mother are likely to trill less. Without a mother cat to teach the sound, it is unlikely that a cat has learned to trill.
This is even more likely in households with only one cat. However, a cat living in a household with other cats might pick up trilling from the other animals when they make this sound.
Maternal cats are likelier to exhibit this behavior than those unhappy about new cats entering their household.
Is Trilling a Sign That Something is Wrong?
Usually, trilling shows that your cat is comfortable and happy in your company. Other sounds, such as deep meowing or hissing, indicate something is wrong.
Cats use trilling for joyous occasions, like greeting or seeking affection.
As cats get older, however, they sometimes become more attached to their owners and need more attention, especially as their sensory perception declines.
She may want to spend more time with you and crave attention as her body and behavior begin to change.
This is perfectly normal, but it is always wise to watch for sound changes or excessive, frequent vocalizations.
There may be underlying issues, such as pain, injury, or illness.
Although excessive trilling is rarely a sign of a problem, it is vital to determine why your cat is trilling increasingly in case medical attention is needed.
Trills and Purrs
Trilling and purring fall into the same category. Both are sounds made with the mouth closed and are primarily used for greeting.
Cats also make both sounds to gain their owners’ recognition, approval, and affection.
Unlike purring, trilling is a softer, higher-pitched sound. In all cases, it has a friendly meaning. In contrast, purring can sometimes signal illness, sadness, injury, or hunger.
The purr is usually a complex sound to understand because there are a variety of emotions behind it. It is also difficult to tell whether a purr is happy or sad.
The purr has a deeper tone and is produced by the movement of the glottis. This is the opening between the vocal cords that helps produce sound.
Cats Trill in Heat
An unneutered, reproductive cat comes into oestrus, also called heat in cats, several times a year.
The oestrus cycle lasts about a week to 10 days. During this time, the cat ovulates.
A cat in heat exhibits many noticeable behaviors and compulsively seeks affection from its owners.
Cats sometimes use trilling in heat as a mating call. They emit a series of trills or trill meows to attract male mates.
Unfortunately, these sweet trills turn into an unpleasant yowl as the cats become more desperate to attract attention.
An unneutered male cat responds to these signals by mating with the reproductive female.
Male cats will not go into heat. Instead, unneutered males are aroused by the scent of a female cat in heat.
They then focus on finding a suitable female cat, calling for females with a low trill and a series of meows to attract them.
Since cats are crepuscular animals most active at dawn and dusk, an unneutered male cat is most likely to be heard trilling at night.
This is when a male cat is most likely to encounter a female in heat.
Cats Trill at Kittens
If you notice a mother cat trilling to her kittens, it means she is attracting them to her.
The kittens know they should respond to this sound and eventually learn to make it themselves.
They then adopt this sound into adulthood, using it as part of their general communication methods with humans and other cats.
Mother cats also trill at their kittens because their hearing is not yet fully developed. Cats communicate with high-pitched, inaudible sounds, and trilling is a sound that even kittens can hear and respond to.
If you bring a new kitten into your household that is not related to an older cat in the household, your cat will trill if she feels comfortable with the newcomer.
Your cat might use a welcoming trilling sound to say hello or to attract the kitten to her.
Don’t let this sound worry you, as it is a way for both cats to bond with each other.
Leave your cats alone, but intervene if the sounds suddenly become soft and tense. This means trouble is brewing.
Why Do Cats Trill and Then Walk Away?
This behavior can be confusing, but your cat simply wants you to follow. You need to figure out what she wants by following her commands.
Your cat will show you why she is beckoning you through body language and behavior.
In some cases, the animal may be asking for food or looking for a treat. Or maybe the cat is confused and needs your help.
But maybe your cat just wants to play. Some cats enjoy playing hide and seek or other games and may be in a naughty mood.
If your cat trills at you and runs away, grab some toys and play with him.
Cats love toys with feathers because they most resemble their prey. When playing, the cat may also trill while jumping to show her delight.
Summary: Why Do Cats Trill?
Cat trilling is a cute and gentle sound that expresses the friendliest and most affectionate side of their nature.
Trilling is pleasant to listen to and shows that your cat is happy. The sound is sometimes easily mistaken for the chirping of birds.
But it’s actually quite distinctive. A cat’s trilling is often accompanied by head rubbing, which means your cat seeks attention.