Why Do Cats Trill?

Why Do Cats Trill?

I like hearing that my cats make that cute extended, vibrato 'rrrooowwe, bruuppp, brrring' sounds when I come home. Sometimes it seems to me that they compete which of them will be louder and show more satisfaction to see me.

If you have ever experienced the same, you know what I want to say.

However, greetings are not the only reason for why do cats trill. Some of them do the same before sleeping and while rushing over to cuddle with you.

However, sometimes they like making that particular noise randomly without apparent reason. Believe it or not, this charming chirrup noise has a name - trilling.

cat trill

Cat Breeds That Prefer Trilling

With all the other well-known sounds, all cats can trill. However, even though the tendency to this activity depends on the personality of each cat, it seems that some cat breeds enjoy it more, especially:

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

What Trilling Is and When Do Cats Practice It?

cat trill

Technically, the trill is a sound that your cat makes with a closed mouth. It doesn't expel the air but pushes it through the vocal cords. As a result, you will hear short and ascending trilling sound lasting just a second or even less.

Mostly, cats trill in a few situations:

  •         When greeting each other or their owner
  •         When they request more attention
  •         When it is time for feeding, and they see the owner preparing the food
  •         When their beloved owner stroking, cuddling and petting them
  •         In some cases, senior cats begin trilling more often when they get a bit more confused

Why Do Cats Trill?

1. To keep their babies close

to keep their baby close

In almost all cases, the meaning of this type of feline communication is positive since female cats use it while 'talking' to their kittens. Baby cats learn to react on trilling in young age during suckling, in time of weaning, and in a period when mom cat invites her babies to follow her.

Since kittens can't see in the beginning, they react to sounds. That way, they get used to their mother's voice and learn to respond appropriately to her demands.

The crucial thing is that the cat's voice is both gentle and firm at the same time. It seems that the trill is that ideal combination affecting babies soothing and grabbing their attention.

2. Welcome home

welcome home

Since their mom uses trilling as a way to greet them, kittens learn that and keep using the same system in their adult lives. In other words, they use this way of communication when they feel safe and happy to greet their owner.

Most people believe that trilling is actually the warmest welcome their kitty can provide.

 3. Follow the leader

follow the leader

As I have already said, trilling is a combination of tenderness and firmness. Except for learning about greetings, young cats quickly realize another side of this particular sound, a command to follow the leader.

Therefore, you will notice the particular behavior of your cat when starting trilling. It will come to you, trill, and suddenly walk several feet away. Then, your furry friend will turn around to check if you understand the demand and follow it.

If not, it will keep repeating the procedure until you understand its wishes. Once you get up, it will lead you to the destination and show you what it needs you to see.

I have heard that some cats want their owners to follow to the place where they happily share some essential information with someone they love. As for my cats, this destination is always an empty bowl for food.

4. Little chat with friends

chat with friends

In most cases, cats use different ways of communicating with other members of their species and with humans. However, trilling is something special in every possible sense. It is a way to chat with friends, no matter if they are animals or their owners.

You need to understand that hearing your cat trill is a privilege. Kittens practice it on the family members, and that bond means closeness and trust.

Once your kitty begins trilling in front of you, it is a sign that you have become a member of its family and the best friend.

5. Trilling as a part of a jump

part of a jump

When you notice that your kitty trills while jumping, it probably wants you to follow. It can also be a demand but usually represents a challenge. Cats are smart animals, and your beloved one is aware that you can't do everything it can.

It seems that in such a situation, your furry friend wants you to play as long as it is the winner.

What Does the Trill Mean?

Whatever the reason, you can be sure that your cat trills for a purpose. In most cases, it is an excellent sound, but it may be a warning sign, as well. Let's see.

1. Positive trilling

As I have already mentioned, trilling is almost always an affirmative noise. It is a way your cat greets you and shows its affection.

Also, it probably needs your attention at this particular moment. In any case, that comforting sound reminds your furry friend of its mom and means that it feels calm and safe in your presence.

2. Negative trilling

In rare situations, you should recognize trilling as a sign of concern, especially if you have a senior cat. When the cat suddenly begins trilling louder than usual, you should take it to the vet to check its hearing.

When the cat hears poorly, it starts making louder noises.

Also, some elder cats may trill randomly in an inappropriate moment when suffering from dementia. If you notice that your old furry friend is confused, sleeps excessively, and trills for no apparent reason, you should consult your vet.

If it is about dementia, you can slow the progress of this disease when beginning to treat it early.


As always, when it comes to cats, there is no reasonable reason why your furry friend trills or refuses to make this lovely sound. It probably depends on its personality.

If your kitty is apprehensive, quiet-mannered, or shy, it probably won't trill. Also, you can't expect your cat to use such a sound if it was bottle-fed and didn't have a mom nearby to teach it.

It is the same with over-trilling. Your cat will trill more often if it is happy, attention-loving, and enjoy your company. In general, if you have a chatty pet, it is more likely it will trill.

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