Cats chirp or trill like a pigeon when they are feeling happy, playful, or want attention from you. Your cat may also trill as a way of saying hello to you when they walk into the room.
These bird-like sounds might seem strange but they are almost always positive vocalisations your cat is using to communicate that they are pleased or excited.
What Is Cat Trilling?
Cat trilling is a high-pitched hum that sounds like it vibrates from the back of the cat’s throat. The sound is short and is similar to the cooing of a pigeon.
Trilling sounds like a mix between a meow and a purr.
A good way of mimicking a trill is by making a high-pitched sound while rolling your r’s.
Trilling is usually a sign of a happy cat, it can be used as a greeting or to express friendliness. A cat may also trill if they want attention from you.
How Do Cats Trill?
The trilling noise made by cats is caused by vibrations in their vocal cords.
This is different to a purring sound which is caused by vibration in their diaphragm.
Trilling comes naturally to cats and is usually a short sound that lasts around 1 second, a cat may trill up to 8 times in a minute.
Trilling is different from meowing as the trill noise is made with the mouth closed while a cat meows with their mouth open.
Trilling is, more often than not, a positive noise while meowing can be positive or negative.
Does Every Cat Trill?
Yes, trilling is a natural sound that all cats can make, although some cats trill more than others. Some cats like to be very vocal and express themselves often while others are more reserved.
You might never hear your cat make this sound and that is normal too.
If you haven’t heard your cat trill but you want to, pay close attention next time you greet them or feed them as you may hear them trill then.
Why Is My Cat Chirping?
Chirping is another way cats communicate, a chirp is slightly different to a trill as it is a short peep-sound similar to a songbird.
Chirping is a type of murmur, the same communication type as purring.
Although chirping is different to trilling, it is used in a lot of the same situations (for example, greeting and getting attention).
Chirping is also seen when cats watch prey, such as birds or insects, and their hunting instincts kick in.
While keeping a close eye on the prey, the cat will start to vocalise by chirping – they may sound similar to the bird they are watching when they do this!
You can tell if your cat is chirping in a friendly way or chirping at prey by watching their body language and behaviour:
1. Friendly Chirping
When chirping to be friendly your cat will have their ears up, tail swishing, bright, blinking eyes, and they may also be asking for attention in other ways such as head-butting.
2. Chirping At Prey
When your cat is chirping at prey they will be alert and in a stalking pose with dilated pupils with sideways pointing ears.
Why Does My Cat Coo Like A Dove?
Cats coo as a way of talking to their owners, they often coo because they want attention, food, or they are feeling playful.
Cooing is a positive sound that cats use and they may coo to talk to each other as well as to you.
When a cat coos it sounds like a mix between a purr and a meow, it may sound strange but it’s just another noise your cat uses when they are feeling chatty.
Sometimes, cats coo when you wake them up from a deep sleep.
This can be a sign that they have been startled and they are simply wondering why you’ve woken them.
What It Means When Your Cat Sounds Like A Pigeon:
Trilling and cooing are completely normal vocalisations that cats use to communicate.
When your cat is making pigeon sounds, it is often an indication that they are happy and they probably want some attention from you.
Below we have listed the top 6 reasons a cat may trill (from most likely to least likely).
Important note: Always look at your cat’s body language and behaviour when trying to determine what they are communicating to you.
1. They Want Your Attention
Trilling can be a quick and easy way for your cat to get attention from you.
As cats are excellent communicators, they may have learned that when they trill you respond to them positively and give them attention.
This feedback loop encourages them to trill in the future to get attention from you.
Your cat may stop trilling and start purring when they begin to receive attention from you.
2. They Are Happy
Cat trills are often happy, inviting sounds and this is because your cat is letting you know they are feeling good or is happily greeting you.
You can think of your cat trilling as them giving you a friendly hello and this is often followed by petting and snuggles.
3. They Want To Play
Your cat may have learned that trilling at you gets your attention and they are now trying to use this to get you to play with them.
If your cat is trilling at you in an energetic way and is trying to get your attention they probably want to play.
Playing is a great way to strengthen your bond with your cat.
Cats love playtime and they may continue to trill during the play too, this is a good indicator they are enjoying the games with you.
4. They Are Greeting You
Some cats trill when they walk into a room as a way of greeting their family.
They may also rub against you, look directly at you, or move close to you while making the noise.
If you walk into the room your cat is in, they may trill as they come to greet you.
5. They Are Saying “Follow Me”
If your cat has kittens, you might hear her trill as a way of telling their kittens to follow her.
This tends to happen if the mother cat is guiding the kittens to food or is teaching them something.
The mother cat may trill if she feels she needs to lead her kittens away from potential danger too.
6. They Are In Heat
The final reason a cat may trill is that they are in heat, these trills tend to be longer sequences and may be a combination of trills and meows.
The sound is slightly different from the bird-like trills we have been discussing but it is worth being aware of this meaning too.
This extended trilling sound is used by the female cat to attract a male.
Is Cat Trilling A Good Thing?
Yes, your cat is trilling at you is great as it is a sign they are happy, affectionate and communicating with you.
Trilling is one of many sounds that cats make and they use this, combined with visual signals, to communicate how they are feeling and what they are thinking.
Don’t worry if your cat doesn’t trill or coo, there will be other ways your cat communicates with you.
If you want to hear them trill, you could try to make a similar noise by rolling your “R”s and then giving your cat attention.
Cats like to mimic so wait and see what happens, they may make the noise back to you.
Can Cats Trill Too Much?
If your cat is trilling constantly and for seemingly no reason, they may be feeling unwell and want attention from you.
We recommend taking your cat to the vet or videoing your cat trilling and showing it to your vet so they can assess the situation and your cat’s condition.
If you are concerned about excessive trilling we recommend you speak with a vet.
JustAnswer allows you to talk in real-time to veterinary experts for a small fee.
While a cat trilling is often a positive noise, trilling all the time is a sign of a problem.
If you’re worried about your cat, always take them to the vet for a health check.
In the wild, some cats may trill excessively to warn others of danger and to defend their territory from intruders.
Cat Trilling Is Usually A Good Thing
Cats usually trill when they are happy and want to spend time with you.
Understanding your cat’s vocalisations largely comes down to observing their behaviour, body language and attitude when they are making the sound.
If your cat is trilling excessively it can be an indication that they aren’t feeling well or something isn’t right.