The Reasons Your Cat Is Trilling at Another Cat

Trilling is a normal, feline sound. Cats trills for various reasons:

  1. Mother cats trill at their kittens to say, “Follow me.”
  2. Felines trill to say “hello.”
  3. Trilling is used to get attention.
  4. Some chatty cats trill when they talk.
  5. Cats may trill to reassure another cat.

Cats use a variety of noises to communicate. One of them is trilling.


Trilling as opposed to other feline sounds. 

Trilling is usually described as a rolling, high-pitched, Mediterranean “r” sound.

It is produced when felines push air through their voice boxes.

The trilling sound begins in the cat’s mouth.

Yet, since the mouth is closed, the air cannot escape and is forced through the voice box.

Listen to cats trilling in these YouTube videos: Video 1     Video 2


Trilling is almost always positive.

Veterinarians asked feel that trilling is a positive sound.

This is supported by a recent Brazilian study of 74 cats.

The researchers divided the cats into two groups. One group was faced with a positive situation and the other a negative one.

Felines in the negative situation group only meowed, whereas the group in the positive situation trilled, squeaked, purred, and chattered.

The researchers concluded that trilling “is exclusively associated with positive situations” and can be used to understand how your cat is feeling.

Now, let’s take a look at why kitty might be making this sound.


1. Trilling is a learned behavior.

Mother cats trill at their kittens. Observations show that trills mean “follow me.

Perhaps your trilling cat wants the other cat to follow.


2. Your cat might be trilling as a greeting.

Another idea from watching feline behavior is that trilling is a way to say ‘hello.’

It could be that your trilling cat is saying ‘Hi’ to the other cat.

Cats trill at humans, also, and for the same reason.

Observe your cat. After trilling, does your pet rub his/her head against your body?

Perhaps your cat arches his/her back to signal ‘I want petting.’

If so, this means your cat is happily greeting you.

Not just for living beings

Cats sometimes trill when they see (or hear) their food bag or treat container.


3. It’s an ‘I want attention’ trill.

A cat may trill at another to get their attention for some reason.

One set of reasons have to do with their environment, such as warning of a problem or danger.

The trill is the attention-getter to be followed by the message sound.

Another group of reasons relates to the cat itself. Perhaps it is sick, hurt, or in pain.


A way for your cat to communicate with you

If you pay attention to your cat when he/she trills, you are teaching your pet that trilling is a good way to get your attention.

Cats are great at learning these kinds of lessons.

So, over time, your pet will use a trill when he or she needs you to do something.

Hopefully, it is something like ‘more petting, please’.

However, a trill could be a signal that the food/water dish is empty or even that your cat is unwell.

Frequent trilling in older cats could be a sign that they are feeling disoriented and/or frustrated.

By noticing what else is going on with your kitty, you will be able to figure out what you need to do.


4. Trilling is a form of chatting.

Cats trilling is part of the way they talk to each other.

It appears that some breeds are chattier than others. Top talkers include cats that have Siamese or Maine coon blood.

In fact, a post on a popular cat forum talked about a very talkative Siamese cat.

The cat would “carry on a whole conversation with me…she trills, I trill back, she meows, I meow back. It could go on for hours.”


5. Your trilling cat could be reassuring the other cat.

On the same forum as #4 above, one of the answers to “what is trilling” was posted by a cat rescuer.

The person said that they “try to trill at some of my scaredy cat rescues… sometimes it helps.”

Although this has not been scientifically proven, it makes sense.

As I said above in #1, mother cats trill at their babies.

So, it is logical that this sound would be reassuring for a frightened feline.


Writer: Lisa Aharon

lisa aharon