Cat meows: why do cats trill? What does it mean when a cat makes a trill?

Related Articles

Let’s talk about cat trills, including why only certain cats make them and how cats use this sound to communicate with us.
Signs of a cat in heat

A cat opens its mouth and makes a “meow” or similar sound. Photography by annadarzy/Thinkstock.


This happens every day. No, my phone is not an old-fashioned phone, and I don’t have a nostalgic ringtone set on my iPhone. It’s what is commonly known as a “cat call,” in which my tabby cat, Merritt, excitedly greets me and seems to be chatting about his day.

My other cat, Gabby, is also excited to see me, but is silent when Merritt trills. Maybe he will tilt his head and purr softly, but that’s it. So why does only one of the kittens make this cat purr? Why do cats purr?

Why do cats purr?

Merritt relaxing in an autumnal cat house Photo by Cait Rohan Kelly.

My gut tells me that cat purring is a positive sound. Not only does Merritt meow when I come home, he meows when he sees or hears food bags and treats. To confirm this, I checked with Dr. Sasha Gibbons of Just Cats Animal Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut. A purr is a high-pitched chirp-like sound that cats make when greeting people or other cats. It is associated with positive, welcoming vibrations,” she says.

What about other cat noises?

According to the Humane Society of the United States, cats make the “meow” sound to get a mother cat’s attention or to follow her kittens. Merritt is a funky cat who loves the spotlight and being with people. There isn’t a guest who doesn’t appreciate Merritt! If I am sitting down and Merit is near me, I know she should stay still for the next 20 minutes. She would be on my lap, chirping, banging her head against my leg, growling and trying to get my attention!

So if she is telling us humans to pay attention to her, it makes sense that she would trill (!!!) . . The trills a cat makes when eating are “follow me” (“Hey, human, I’m here!”) ), “Pay attention” (“I’m here!”), “Pay attention!” (“I’m here!”), etc. etc.). ) and “Pay attention” (“Don’t feed my brother first! -even though he’s waiting quietly like an angel!”). ). Good examples of commands

What is the difference between a cat’s purr and a cat’s meow?

But why cat meows and not other cat noises? Why don’t cats meow to get attention or to say hello? My cat Gabby is much quieter and does not meow. She meows to get attention, but the attention she seeks is usually negative. For example, Gabby will sit by the closed basement door and meow until I pick her up. She is not supposed to be in the basement, but she has escaped several times. He is naughty and clever and wants to go back.

The meows meow with their mouths open, and the trills meow with their mouths closed,” Dr. Gibbons explains. Meow can have both positive and negative meanings.”

How does a cat’s trill sound to someone who has never heard it before?

If my rotary-phone-style “brrrring” and general “rrroooowe” descriptions don’t do the cat trill justice, think of the cat trill as a high-pitched, rolling, Spanish-style “R” sound. To really understand the cat trill, let’s hear from Merritt himself! **Please excuse the cat’s Christmas stocking.

How do our kittens purr?

As any cat lover knows, cats have very interesting anatomy. So what exactly happens when a cat makes a strange cat meow?

“The trill is a high-pitched sound because the cat keeps its mouth closed and air is pumped into the ‘vocal cords’ to prevent air from being expelled,” says Dr. Gibbons.

Why do some cats trill and others don’t?

Dr. Gibbons says, “The degree of trill depends on their personality.” Some cats are shy, some are fearful.

This is perfectly consistent with my two cats. Gabby is a quiet old cat who doesn’t want much attention, and Merritt is a young cat who loves attention.

Am I the only one who purrs at my cat? Does she understand me?

I am not the only cat lover who has “cat talk” conversations with cats. Merritt is so chatty that I have started having similar cat talk conversations with her. Sometimes I ask her a question and she immediately answers in the tone of voice I expect.

Me: “Merritt, do you like your new toy?”
Merritt: :::happy trill:::

Me: “Merritt, where’s Gabby?”
Merritt::::I think he means I don’t know:

Before you think I’m a nutcase, here’s a doctor’s opinion confirming that I understand my cat’s trill and the problem! ‘Cats can use trills to communicate with other cats and humans,’ says Dr. Gibbons. She definitely understands the tone of your voice and knows you are in good company.

So, ladies and gentlemen, cats, let’s trill together. By far, this is probably the closest you’ll get to talking to your cat!

Tell us: do you have a cat that “meows”? What does your cat’s purr sound like? When does your cat “meow”?

Thumbnail: Photography by annadarzy/Thinkstock. 

author : Cait Rohan Kelly

More on this topic



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular stories