Why Do Cats Trill? What Your Kitty Is Trying To Tell You

Aryan Khanna
Sep 08, 2022 By Aryan Khanna
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
A cat owner probably knows all about cats but is still baffled about why do cats trill. It's time to get some answers.

Cats are one of the most expressive pet animals as they make gestures, sounds, and body movements for communication purposes.

People don't understand the reason behind a cat trilling, and if it is different from meowing, what is its separate purpose? One can figure out quite easily when a cat is trilling as it makes noises with its mouth closed and lips tightly shut.

Cat trilling isn't an uncommon phenomenon or an action that a cat performs only at very specific moments; it often seems to us that a cat trills randomly.

For those who do not know how a trill sounds, imagine a cat making a 'rrrrrrowee' like sound with the pitch rising towards the end part, and yes, it is very different from a meow. It is one of those many sounds a cat makes in order to communicate with us or with its feline companions.

Sounds like a chirp, trills, meows, chatters, a purr, growls, and yowls are all made by cats to express themselves.

Interestingly, cats use all these sounds for different purposes.

If observed carefully, it can be seen that all of them are performed during different moods a cat may experience. Your pet cat might perform these auditory expressions if it is unable to convey its message using its facial and body gestures, but at times, it can be truly random, just because they want to.

A cat may at times trill to get your attention; it often sounds like the cat is demanding something and at the same time, it is not really expressive like a meow.

If you enjoy this article, why not also read about why cats growl and why cats pant here on Kidadl?

What does cat trilling sound like?

Some studies have concluded that trilling is a sound kittens usually make on a positive note. They trill to welcome the arrival of a person such as their owner or kittens use it to communicate with the mother cat.

The most common occurrence of cat trilling is when you get home after a long day and your cat greets you with a hello or when it gets hints about a delicious supper being cooked. These are the most common reasons for a kitty making a trilling noise.

What exactly is the noise? Among a bunch of other sounds your cat is making maybe right at this moment, how will you figure out which one is trilling?

For starters, unlike most other cat sounds such as a purr which originates from its vocal cords and voice box, a trill is formed in the mouth of a cat.

For better understanding, imagine a person with an accent trying to speak 'rrrr'; the trilling sound which cats make is quite similar but much sweeter.

There is a common misconception or a myth that a cat has to be of Spanish heritage in order to trill. Every cat trills, it isn't indigenous to cats hailing from Spain.

The latter half of a trill is quite similar to that of a meow but at a higher pitch and it ends on a higher note such as that of a person making an interrogative statement. A cat trill can be considered as a combination of a purr and a meow.

It's calm enough to apply a soothing effect and stern enough to make someone pay attention.

Is cat trilling bad?

In general, a cat's trills are a positive sign that they are happy and content. If your cat is comfortable, and in a good mood, it might randomly trill at times.

If it receives some tasty food to eat or when you compliment it, it can trill. However, there are extraordinary circumstances or situations in its life stage where a cat might be making trills for negative reasons.

When your cat moves towards the latter half of its life and becomes old, it develops certain ailments and often faces sickness. Under these circumstances, cats trill quite a lot.

A sudden increase in the rate of trilling might be due to an injury your cat has recently suffered or some pain it is feeling.

If you cannot understand the exact reason behind your cat's trilling, the wise decision would be to contact a vet immediately.

It has been noted at times that cats use trills when they are a bit under the weather, so it is important that you pay attention to your cat to understand its condition. Signs of lethargy can be noted in your cat under these conditions.

Cat trilling isn't particularly a bad sign, especially when your cat is young, but excessive trilling might be a concern in its older days. Other than trilling, you can also notice your cat chortling at times; this is a positive sound that cats make when they are interested in something or excited for some reason.

They also chortle to announce their presence; it is like a bird chirping but less shrill and has more of a softer tone.

As time passes by, you will be better at understanding if your cat is trilling for you and will then be in a better position to understand what it sounds like.

Trilling and chortling: what do these sounds mean?

Trills and chortles are some of the most common sounds cats make among a bunch of other sounds and gestures.

Even though people still get confused about which sound or sign signifies what, researchers have gone to a great extent to solve this problem at hand. The better we understand our cats' signaling, the easier it will be for us to understand cats.

Owing to cat specialists who have been studying cat behavior for some considerable time now, we can get to know what requirements of a cat lead to what kind of a sound.

Usually, when a mother cat trills, it is a call it gives to its kittens to follow it. Before delving deeper into trilling and its significance, let's find out how cats make this sound.

Unlike the majority of other noises, in the case of trilling, cats keep their mouths closed and push air.

The air doesn't get expelled but a high-pitched noise is made. It is somewhat a sign of saying 'come follow me'.

Chances are high that if your cat trills, maybe it wants you to follow. The next probable reason behind a cat's trills is it is making you feel its presence.

Cats seem to trill at times if it wants you to acknowledge its presence and to let you know that it is present there.

It can happen when you come home after a trip or after work. The kitten can wriggle around your feet trilling in a soft voice as if saying hello.

Additionally, kittens also trill at times when they are seeking your attention. Maybe you are sitting on the couch reading a book or sipping a cup of tea and your kitty starts trilling.

Chances are high that it wants you to give it some attention, maybe pat its back or play with it. Many cat owners have witnessed moments where their cats started trilling as they were hooked to the television for a very long time.

Cats do not like being left alone on their own for long durations.

They appreciate when a human being is with them, taking care of them, paying attention to anything and everything they do. At times, you might have noticed your cat trill when you touched it or offered a treat; this is a way cats express their love and affection towards a human.

The fact that you responded to your cat's call for attention was appreciated by your feline friend, and making trills was the way it expressed its emotions. Other than trilling, cats also chortle a lot.

It is a common observation that chortling is used by cats more for expressing their joy and delight rather than to communicate with someone.

Humans often see their pet chortling whenever an activity that interests their cat is being carried out or if it is provided with food that it loves. These are some of the most obvious reasons behind a cat chortling.

Why do cats trill during playing or petting?

Cats have a lot of ways of expressing their feelings, their mood, and also their needs and requirements. A trill is one such way, especially for showing their love, affection and joy.

Kittens are quite expressive, in general, in comparison to other animals. They make their presence felt, and they let humans know about their discomfort by making noises or gestures. Similarly, trilling is another way of communication and expression used by cats in day-to-day life.

Whenever you play with your kitten or pet it, it makes your pet happy, whether it is a cat or some other animal. After all, who doesn't appreciate being loved!

Kittens especially love it when you play with them; they feel entertained and joyful and express their happiness by trilling.

Adult cats also like being petted and when you pay them attention and shower them with love. Moments like these are what cats cherish and they reciprocate by letting you know how they feel and the only way they can express it is by making sounds and gestures.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do cats trill then take a look at why cats headbutt or Burmese cat facts.


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Written by Aryan Khanna

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Aryan Khanna picture

Aryan KhannaBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

A dedicated and hardworking content writer currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Management Studies from St. Xavier's University, Kolkata. Aryan aims to gain corporate exposure and enhance his skills while creating well-researched and engaging content that is SEO-friendly. Aryan is a talented individual who puts in the effort to overcome any obstacle in his way.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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