What Does It Mean When A Cat Trills?

Most cat owners have heard their pet cats do numerous sounds in different scenarios. It’s a mystery deciphering the multitude of sounds – all 16 vocalizations – as found in a study done in 1944. Especially if you notice, they use some on more than one occasion.

There are also times that they use one or two sounds at the same time, which mystifies owners even more. There is one discernible sound though that cat owners associate with their pets when they come home – and that is called trilling.

Does it mean happiness? Or is it used by cats for conveying something else to you? Do you need to be concerned when your pet cat trills so often?

cute little kitten

These are the questions that might be going around your head right now, so let’s go ahead and discuss one of the many vocalizations that your cat does, cat cooing!

What Is Trilling All About?

Cat trilling, also known as chirruping or chirring, is learned by kittens straight from their mothers. Kittens will hear the trilling of their own mothers and no one else; no matter how far they’d be from each other.

When they grow up, kittens would eventually stop using it to communicate with their mothers. But instead, intensify it with their owners as a primary form of greeting.

They also combine it with other vocalizations to convey a different emotion. Along with its other body parts, your cat’s vocalizations are another way for it to talk to you. You can use these sounds to understand your pet further. It can also be combined with other sounds that your cat may make, and it will differ in meaning once accompanied by other cat actions.

What Makes Up The Sound?

As stated in a study done by Mildred Moelk in 1944, she found 16 different kinds of vocalizations that she proceeded to interpret by comparing the sounds to how humans may produce them. All of them would depend on how the mouth of the cat is formed and how the tongue is used to create the sound.

As far as trilling is concerned, it happens with a sudden push of air, while the meow and purr roll over the tongue. This often comes out with a high-pitched tone. She eventually associated the sound to greet not only their mothers but their owners and other animals as well.

The Meaning of the Trilling

  • It’s happy to see you

Chirruping is often associated with anything positive that your pet cat may feel and you will be the most likely recipient.

When you see your cat cooing, in some cases, your cat is trying to convey that it is happy to see you. No matter how long you left your cat at home, as soon as you hear your pet trilling, it will be the happiest to see you.

Your cat would also use this when it sees other familiar animals; be it your other pet, or somebody else’s. This vocalization is often followed by rubbing its head against you or any part of your body that it can reach.

  • Your cat wants your attention for itself

As soon as you hear your cat makes a trilling sound and its body is in a ready position, it may mean that it wants to play with you. This is the time to whip out the toys and provide lots of love. This is the only time that you have its fullest attention so make the most out of it.

If in case you were trying to clean the laundry, as long as the trilling continues, it will demand your attention in whatever way it can manage.

If you have two or more pets, your cat would most often use this to get your focus away from your other pets. Once your cat trills insistently and tries swatting you, then it is craving for your attention only for itself.

  • It wants you to follow its steps.

As learned from its mother, once you hear your cat chirring and it walks or runs away from you, your cats want you to follow. You might end up finding it in a corner and pawing at something, or it’s pacing back and forth in a spot.

As long as both these actions are done by your cat, then you don’t have any choice but to follow in its tracks.

  • Hey, let’s be friends!

In this scenario, you’d probably see your cat trilling at another cat located a few feet away. This is a sign that your feline wants to be friends with the other cat or at least be in good terms.

This may sometimes happen if you brought home a friend and your pet immediately likes him/her. If after the trilling sound, it rubs against your friend’s leg or even jumps on his/her lap, then you won’t need to do an introduction.

Especially if you’re bringing home another cat or pet, you’ll be extremely lucky if your cat trills at the newcomer. No need to fuss about slowly introducing them to each other.

How to Deal with the Trill?

There are chances that when your cat makes the trilling sound, it might not convey happiness or joy. It may depend on how your pet was brought up by its mother cat; but these chances may rarely occur.

Nonetheless, it is better to at least understand what your cat may be feeling when it trills so as to create a more lasting relationship. Take heed of the scenarios when your kitty trills and work your way from there.

Whatever the sounds that your cat may make, ultimately, you’ll be the best person to anticipate what it wants. Cats are very expressive, that even people who don’t like cats will somewhat understand the urgency that they may be trying to tell.

So the next time your cat makes a sound, stop what you’re doing, look at your cat’s surroundings while listening to the sounds your cat is making to help you get a vague sense of what your cat desires.

Miranda LaSala
Miranda LaSala

My destination ever since I was born was to be a cat person. When I had the chance, I took the course on Veterinary Tech from Pima Medical Institute, Seattle. For the last 5 years, I've worked as a kennel assistant, veterinary nurse, and a surgical nurse.

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