Cats can really surprise you.
I certainly was in for a surprise when I discovered that my cat Cleo had two separate noises that sounded almost identical to me—a trill and a meow!
A trill is a more positive and excitable version of a purr, and my cat’s trills are a lot more noticeable when I try to touch her fur or pet her.
I have now come to realize that cats trill for various reasons – it’s a form of communication that goes beyond the usual hissing or meowing you may be familiar with.
If you’re wondering why your cat is trilling at you instead of meowing, here are some of the things it means when they do it:
The first reason why cats trill is to greet others. When your cat enters the room and gives a trill, it’s like they’re saying hello to you and the other pets in the house.
I’ve noticed that Cleo often does this when she sees me in the morning and during the night or when she comes across our neighbors’ cats on their daily walks.
It’s their own way of acknowledging each other’s presence.
2. Indicating Excitement or Contentment
If your cat is trilling at you or another cat, it could be because they are happy to be in your company.
Cleo does this a lot when she’s playing with her toys or when she’s cuddling with me on the couch.
It’s her way of letting me know that she’s content in our home.
3. Trust and Affection
Trilling is often a sign of trust and affection. If your cat trills a lot around you, it means that they feel comfortable and secure in your presence.
I always feel so loved when Cleo trills at me, especially when she’s snuggled up next to me on the bed.
Cleo often trills when she’s in a new environment, exploring and testing new textures and smells. It’s her way of saying, “I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I trust you to keep me safe.”
It’s like she’s telling me that she trusts and adores me, and it feels good to know that she feels loved and cared for.
I feel honored and humbled by her trust and do my best to ensure her safety and comfort.
4. Wanting Attention
If your cat is meowing and trilling at you, they might be telling you that they want to play, be petted, or just interact with you.
I’ve noticed this behavior in Cleo when she’s feeling playful or when she wants some extra cuddle time.
5. Invitation to Play
Have you noticed that sometimes your cat trills before playtime? Trilling can be inviting and a way of initiating play.
When Cleo wanted to play, she would trill and then run around, which is an indication that she was being playful and wanted me to engage with her.
When your cat trills in this way, play with them in a designated space or a specific toy for playtime.
6. Motherly Communication/Invitation to Follow
Cats are known to be caring and protective towards their young ones, and trilling is one of their ways of communication.
With Cleo, I realized that she uses trilling to show me affection or to call me out whenever she needs some attention.
Mothers often trill to get their kittens to follow them, and that’s exactly how Cleo uses trilling to bond with me, especially when she wants to show me that she’s out of water or food.
If Cleo trills and then moves away, it’s a clear sign that she’s inviting me to follow her.
7. Courtship Behavior
Male cats are known for their courting behavior, which includes trilling excessively towards females they want to mate.
When Cleo is in heat, I notice that male cats in the neighborhood tend to trill loudly outside my house, possibly hoping she’ll respond. The thing is, she was also yowling and trilling, so I really don’t know what was being communicated.
Although this was a very overwhelming and annoying time, it was interesting to watch and see how she used this behavior in their natural instincts to mate.
8. Individual Personality
As a unique individual, Cleo has her own personality, which also reflects in her sounds.
Some cats are talkative and meow excessively, while others, like Cleo, are more trillers.
I find it amusing how Cleo responds only with a trill whenever I speak to her, call her name, or try to pet her when she’s lying down, and it’s a clear indication that she’s content and happy at that moment.
What does a cat trill sound like?
Cat trilling sounds like “proo” or “peru” and is kind of like the roll of the rrrr in “purrr” but with a more song-like quality.
The pitch and intensity of the trill can vary depending on the situation and the mood of the cat.
Cats may also produce long, drawn-out trills, or they may combine trilling with meowing or purring.
Here’s some audio of what trilling sounds like:
Is cat trilling rare, and does all cat breeds trill?
Cat trilling is not rare, but it’s not a behavior that all cats display, and it isn’t as common as other cat sounds, like meowing or purring.
The tendency to trill can vary among different breeds and individual cats.
Some breeds are more vocal than others and may be more likely to trill, and whether or not a cat trill may depend on the way they learned to communicate when they were young.
So, while not all cat breeds may trill, it’s not an uncommon behavior and is often associated with positive, welcoming vibes.
Why is my cat purring and trilling?
Cats trill and purr for a variety of reasons, often to communicate with their human companions or other cats.
If your cat is trilling and purring at the same time, it could be a sign that they are happy and comfortable in your presence.
However, if your cat’s behavior changes suddenly or they seem distressed, it’s always a good idea to contact your vet to rule out any potential health issues.
What does it mean when a cat chirps and trills?
When a cat chirps and trills, they are usually expressing positive emotions.
These high-pitched, repetitive noises often serve as a form of greeting to humans or other cats and are associated with a welcoming vibe
Why does my cat make a Brrrr sound?
When a cat makes a “brrrr” sound, it’s usually a type of vocalization known as trilling, which is generally a good sign, indicating that they’re happy, excited, or want your attention.
It’s often used as a form of communication, typically indicating positive emotions or intentions.
Do cats only trill when happy?
While trilling is generally associated with positive emotions, it’s not exclusively used when cats are happy and can also be used for other purposes.
Some cats may trill when they need something from you.
It’s also commonly used by mother cats to attract their kittens’ attention and ask them to follow her.
Additionally, older cats may trill to alert their owners of something they need or want, such as food or fresh water.
Here is additional audio demonstrating the beautiful trilling sound. Notice how distinctly the trilling sound resembles that of a pigeon cooing:
What breed of cat trills the most?
I don’t think there are any specific cat breeds known for trilling more frequently. I think most cats trill and may do it differently and sometimes unnoticeably than other cats.
That said, according to Animalpath.org, here are some cat breeds known for their trilling sounds:
Siamese: Known as the “Queen of Cat Sounds,” the Siamese is quite vocal and known for its ability to communicate with humans using a variety of sounds, including trills.
American Shorthair: American Shorthairs are not just beautiful (I have one); they’re also quite talkative. They can produce an array of sounds, including trills.
American Bobtail: This breed is known for its trilling sounds, which are part of its diverse repertoire of vocalizations.
Burmese: The Burmese cat is another breed that’s known for its vocal nature, including trills.
Tonkinese: These cats are known for their social and vocal nature. They love to communicate with their owners through trilling.
Why does my cat trill and then run away?
When your cat trills and then runs away, they might be trying to get your attention to get you to play with them or follow them.
When my cat Cleo runs away after trilling, she usually tries to invite me to a game of chase, and she loves when I run after her.
Cats often use this “hit and run” tactic to initiate playtime. So, if your cat does this, try engaging with them in play.
It’s also possible that your cat is trying to lead you to something they want you to see, like an empty food bowl or her favorite toy.
But it usually means they want you to chase them and play, most of the time.
Why does my cat trill when I touch her to wake her up?
If your cat trills when you touch her or try to wake her up, it could be her way of greeting you or showing happiness.
It’s a way of acknowledging that she loves and trusts you and knows that you’re not going to harm her, which is why your cat trills to let you know that they are comfortable with your presence.
This happens to me whenever I touch my cat’s fur or head while she’s asleep.
Why do cats trill when they jump?
Cats trill when they jump as a form of communication, often expressing excitement about reaching their desired location or getting something they’re happy about.
Trilling also occurs when cats want to alert you of their actions or express something.
Most often, some cats trill when they see their favorite toy or treat or when their people come home.
Other times your cat will trill and jump when you try to touch or pet them, which is most likely to occur when they’re walking around and you bend down to touch them.
Why does my male cat trill so much?
Male cats might trill more if they want you to follow them or engage with them.
Trilling can also be associated with excitement or focus on a potential hunt.
However, if your male cat is trilling excessively and this is unusual for him, it could be a sign of stress or discomfort, and it might be worth contacting your vet if it’s not something you’re used to seeing.
Do male cats trill more than female cats?
Trilling is a common form of communication among all cats, regardless of gender.
However, it’s noted that trilling tends to be used more commonly by female cats, especially when communicating with their kittens (going back to the idea of mother cats calling their kittens).
The frequency of trilling can vary based on the individual cat’s personality and circumstances.
For example, male cats may also trill more frequently when they sense the presence of a nearby female who’s possibly in heat.
Therefore, while some male cats may trill quite often, it’s not necessarily a behavior exclusive to or more frequent in males compared to females.
Why do cats trill at other cats: kitten, male and female?
Cats trill at each other as a form of communication. Here are some reasons:
- Greeting: Cats often trill as a friendly greeting to another cat or a new kitten in the household.
- Motherly Communication: Mother cats trill to tell their kittens to follow them, according to The Humane Society.
- Play Invitation: Trilling can be an invitation to play. Cats often trill when they’re feeling playful and want to engage with other cats in the household.
- Courtship Behavior: Male cats sometimes trill at females as part of courtship behavior.
Why is my cat trilling at night?
Cats may trill at night for several reasons:
- Communication: Trilling is a form of communication among cats. They might trill to get your attention or express their affection towards you.
- Boredom or Loneliness: Cats may trill at night due to boredom or loneliness. Active play during the day can help reduce this behavior.
- Signaling a Need: A cat’s night-time vocalizations, including trilling, could be a way of signaling a need such as hunger, thirst, or loneliness.
- Motherly Communication: If you have more than one cat, a mother cat might trill to tell her kittens to follow her.
Here’s Jackson Galaxy explaining trilling a bit more:
Why do cats trill instead of meow?
While meowing is a sound that cats primarily use to communicate with humans, trilling is a sound that cats use to communicate with each other as well as with humans.
Trilling is typically a friendly, positive sound. It can be used as a greeting, an invitation to play, or a way for a mother cat to get her kittens’ attention. Trilling can also express excitement or contentment.
On the other hand, meowing can express a variety of moods and needs, including hunger, stress, or curiosity. Cats may meow to get your attention when they’re happy, upset, or want something.
Is it common for all cats to trill?
Trilling is quite common among cats, serving as a form of communication, and cats often learn to trill from their mothers at a young age.
The frequency of trilling varies among individual cats and can indicate comfort and trust in their human companions.
Environmental factors, early socialization with other cats, and individual cat personalities can influence their ability to trill.
Why don’t some cats trill?
Some cats may not trill due to various reasons:
1. Individual Differences
Just like people, cats have unique personalities and behaviors.
Some cats may be more vocal than others, expressing themselves through a variety of sounds, including meowing, purring, hissing, and trilling.
Other cats may be quieter and less likely to use certain vocalizations as a form of communication.
2. Lack of Socialization
Cats that haven’t been properly socialized, especially at a young age, might not use certain forms of communication like trilling.
This is possibly because they haven’t learned the behavior from their mother or siblings.
3. Health Issues
If a cat typically trills but suddenly stops, it could be an indication of a health issue.
For instance, a respiratory infection or oral health problem could make it uncomfortable for a cat to vocalize.
Older cats might not trill as much as younger ones. As cats age, they can become less vocal, or their vocalizations can change.
Just because a cat doesn’t trill doesn’t mean they’re unhappy or unhealthy.
It’s just one of many ways cats communicate, and some cats may prefer other methods of expressing themselves.
Always observe your cat’s overall behavior and contact your vet if you notice any significant changes.
Why does my cat trill all the time and hardly meows?
If your cat trills all the time and hardly meows, it could be due to their individual personality, their way of expressing happiness or contentment, or a learned behavior if they’ve found that trilling gets them what they want.
It’s always important to observe your cat’s overall behavior and body language.
If your cat is trilling all the time but also seems stressed or anxious, or if there’s a sudden change in their behavior, it might be worth contacting your vet to clear your concerns.
When is a cat’s trilling a worry?
While trilling is typically a positive sound that communicates happiness, friendliness, or excitement, there can be instances when constant trilling might be indicative of a potential issue.
Signs to look out for when your cat’s trilling may be a problem are:
1. Change in Behavior
If your cat’s trilling behavior changes suddenly or significantly – for instance, if they start trilling constantly when they didn’t before – it could be a sign of stress, anxiety, or discomfort.
2. Accompanied by Other Symptoms
If the trilling is accompanied by other symptoms such as loss of appetite, lethargy, changes in litter box habits, or any signs of physical discomfort, it’s important to consult with a vet.
3. Excessive Trilling
While some cats are naturally more vocal than others, excessive trilling could be a sign that your cat is trying to communicate something important.
They might be bored, lonely, or need more attention.
4. Aging or Health Issues
Older cats or cats with health issues may change their vocalizing habits.
If your cat is trilling more often and is older or has been diagnosed with a health condition, it would be good to discuss this with your vet
No one knows your cat like you do.
If you notice any sudden changes or behaviors that concern you, it’s always a good idea to reach out to your veterinarian.
Cleo, my fluffy and charming cat, is such a delight to be around because her trilling sound always warms my heart.
When she was just a tiny kitten, I was fascinated by the sounds she made before I even understood them.
Just like most cat owners, I have grown fond of her cute little “talks,” and understanding her personality and learning what her different sounds mean has improved our bond tremendously.