Cat Trilling: Why Does My Cat Do That? What Does It Mean?

cat chirrup
(Last Updated On: April 17, 2021)
As a cat owner, you’ve probably heard your little pet make all sorts of sounds. We all know how great it is to hear a cat purr, but what does it mean when they trill?
It can make us super curious about what they mean. Not every sound is a bad thing, so let’s take a look at what it is and what your kitty might be trying to say.

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What Is Cat Trilling?

For the most part, trills – which are kind of like drawn out meows, are hello in kitty language. You’ll hear something like a drawn out “R” noise that sounds a little like a meow mixed with a purr. Kittens learn this noise from their mother as a kind of greeting. They continue to use it to say hello to other cats or to humans as they get older.

Mostly, it is a happy thing and may be accompanied by some rubbing and petting. It can even be used to get attention from you if you always pet your feline when they make the noise.

Also Read: My kitty likes smacking its lips. What does that mean?

What Does It Mean When My Kitty Trills?

It acts as a kind of hello. But there are many other reasons why your cat might trill at you.
Kittens learn these sounds from their mother at a young age. Mother cats use these sounds to get her kittens to stay close and come over.
In time, her kittens start to learn and follow the sounds, either as a greeting or to get someone’s attention. Let’s try to go through more meanings.

Also Read: Why does my feline keep winking or blinking one eye?

Hello Human!

Feel proud when your kitty trills at you! That noise means that to them, you are a friend. They like being around you and they want to see you more. Of course, they may also make the noise at another kitty friend too.

cat chirrup

Learning Young

Kittens, as you know, learn it from their mom. Mother felines make the noise to keep their kittens in line so they’ll stay nearby without going too far.


Kitty Speech

They do mean hello, but they can also be interpreted as a sort of language in general. This means that your kitty could do it to let you know where they are, or to beg for attention.
They may also do so when you’re speaking to them. When they hear the higher tone of voice we generally use for animals, they trill in response to your questions!

Expressing Interest

While kitty trill to say hello to you, they also do so to express interest. They might make the noise just before exploring something new. Felines have always known to be curious after all.


Your phone beeps when you get a message and your pet trills when he wants attention. If you’re about to sit in the wrong spot, or you’re not petting your friend, they’ll do so to notify you.

Give Me Attention!

Cats do it for attention. They might also do so before walking away from you and turning back around for eye contact. You may give yourself a moment to wonder what’s going on. More than likely, your kitty wants to show you something. The trilling gets you to come over and fill their water and food again.

Associated Behavior

When your pet does it, you may often see them make other actions to get your attention too. That includes rubbing against your leg or raising their back to get you to pet them.

Old Age

Felines who are much older trill too. If they’re feeling disoriented or frustrated due to limitations of their age, they may make the noise.

Physical Issues

It’s normal for your pet to do it, but sometimes it seems excessive. You might also find that your pet isn’t doing it to get your attention, or to make any sort of greeting. If you’re not seeing any obvious reason behind the trilling, there might be something wrong with your cat. If it seems excessive, go to the vet to be sure there aren’t any possible problems.


Difference Between Trilling and Chirping?

Both are actually very similar, and are often confused to be the same thing. In fact they are quite similar, but there are different reasons behind them.
A chirp is a clicking or chattering noise when the lower jaw vibrates. It’s usually done to express an overflow of excitement or frustration when not being able to get prey.
You’ll usually see your kitty making this noise when they’re watching a bird or another animal outside.
Trilling, by contrast, is a form of greeting. Your pet will use it with you to talk, and it’ll sound more like a purr or a meow. More than likely, your kitty will often use it with you. This is very relative to your cat, so your kitty may not make the same chirping noise just to get prey.


It can feel a little frightening to hear a new noise from your feline, but it isn’t something to worry about. Kitties do it to say hello and get your attention. So if you hear that meow-like noise, you know that your cat just wants to be around you. There are lots of reasons they may trill though, and if it’s excessive, it may be best to visit your vet.

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