Why Do Cats Trill?

Cats often purr or meow when they want something. Why do they sometimes sound like birds?

Cats are known to communicate using various sounds. Some of these include purring, hissing, mewing, chirping, and trilling. The latter is a particular type of vocalization that involves a series of high-pitched notes.

Trills are usually associated with songbirds, such as warblers and thrushes. They are also found in other animals, including bats, rodents, and primates. In humans, trills are typically produced by children learning to speak.

The term “trill” comes from the Latin word for “to turn around.” This refers to the way that the cat’s tongue moves back and forth between its upper and lower teeth while producing the trill.

But, why do cats trill? Find out in this guide!

How Does A Cat Purr?

A cat purrs when it feels happy or content. It may purr during sleep, but how do they do it?

When your feline friend breathes, their glottis (the area around their vocal cords) dilates and constricts in a rhythmic fashion.

When they breathe in and out, the air going over the larynx vibrates, which makes the purring sound. 

Scientists have studied how cats purr since the 1970s. Their research shows that the frequency of the purring varies depending on what kind of cat you own.

For example, Siamese cats produce higher frequencies than domestic short hairs.

Purring can be heard at different speeds, ranging from slow to fast. A cat purring slowly has a low pitch; one that is faster produces a higher note.

Why Do Cats Trill? 

This may be all well and good, but sometimes your cat may trill at you. What could be causing this behavior? The honest answer is that we don’t exactly know why cats make this sound.

The reasons outlined below are based on our experiences with our feline friends, and the different situations we find ourselves in. 

One reason why is because your cat wants attention. If she/he sees you looking away, they will try to get your attention by making a noise. He/she may even jump up on you if you don’t respond quickly enough.

Another reason why your cat may trill is because he/she is trying to tell you something. Your pet may be saying that he/she needs food, water, or help.

Studies conducted by the Humane Society have suggested that trilling is used by mother cats to tell her kittens to follow her. With this logic, if your cat is trilling at you, they might want you to do the same and follow them. 

If your cat is trilling, there are some things that you can do to calm him/her down. One thing that works is to gently stroke your cat’s head.

Another option is to rub his/her belly. You should avoid putting pressure on your cat’s face, however, as this may result in injury. 

Breeds Of Cat That Trill

Whilst all cats make some form of trill sounds, there are some breeds which do this more frequently than others. Below are some breeds which are famous for their trilling: 

Siamese – These are often considered to be the most trilled breed of cat. They tend to purr more loudly than other breeds, and they use trills to communicate. Siamese have very expressive faces, and they make the noises to match.

Persian – Persians are another breed that like to trill. They use their trills to show affection towards people, and to let them know that they are ready to play. Your Persian cat might trill while you stroke them.

Ragdoll – Ragdolls are known for being very friendly, and they love to interact with people. They may also trill to express their happiness. Just like the other breeds in this list, Ragdolls tend to be very vocal and expressive in their noses. 

Maine Coon – Maine coons are known for their playful nature. They enjoy playing games with their owners, and they may trill to show excitement about these activities.

Maine Coons are one of the biggest breeds when it comes to trilling. If you have a Maine Coon, then you will quickly notice that they produce all sorts of strange noises to match their emotions. 

American Short Hair – This is one of the most popular breeds of cat in America. It is usually quiet, but it does have a tendency to trill when excited.

However, don’t be alarmed if your American Short Hair doesn’t trill, like we say, this is often a quiet breed of cat.

What Other Sounds Do Cats Make? 

Cats use many sounds besides trills. These include meows, growls, yowls, and barks.

Meowing is a common sound made by felines. It is often accompanied by rubbing against objects or people.

Growling is another type of vocalization that cats use. This can be either an aggressive or defensive sound.

Yowling is similar to barking, except that it is more high-pitched.

Barks are loud noises that are used to warn others about danger. They can also be used to express anger or frustration.

Should I Be Concerned By My Cat’s Trilling? 

As we have seen above, trills are not always bad. Some cats actually prefer to make trills, rather than meows. However, if your cat makes frequent trills, it might be trying to tell you something isn’t right.

There are several signs that your cat may need medical assistance. The following list includes some of the symptoms that you should look out for:

  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased drinking
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures

If your cat starts trilling excessively coupled with any of the above symptoms, our advice would always be to take them to a veterinarian. 


Trills are an important part of the communication between cats and humans. If you notice your cat making these sounds, remember that they are just expressing themselves. Your cat may even be telling you that he/she wants you to play!

The reasons why your cat is trilling at you are, fundamentally, still a mystery. It could even be down to the cat’s personality. 

As we’ve mentioned, frequent trilling coupled with other signs of distress is an indication that your cat isn’t well.

Courtney Trent
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