Cats express themselves by meowing and we are all aware of this, but something that not all of us know is that felines also communicate with us and with each other through particular vocalisations and one of the most intriguing and unusual ones is the trill. Have you ever heard about it?
Cats are very expressive animals and they make themselves understood by humans in different ways: with their body, with facial expressions or with sounds, like the trill, also known as feline chirping.
What is the trill?
On a technical level, the trill is a vocalisation that a cat makes with its mouth closed and, in this case, the air is not expelled but pushed through the vocal cords, thus producing the trilling sound in question. It is a short, ascending vocalisation that lasts just 1 second or less.
The meaning of the trill is always positive. Female cats use it the most, because they use it to communicate with their kittens during the suckling and weaning period, to call the babies to her or invite them to follow her. For this reason, we can say that a cat learns this vocalization at a really young age.
However, it is also used by adult cats to greet their owner affectionately. After all, we are the adoptive mothers and fathers who take care of them, feeding them and giving them a place to live, so it makes perfect sense that they use the trill to seek our attention! In terms of posture and physical communication, when a cat greets us with a trill, it typically comes to meet us with its tail straight up and with a proud but not haughty or arrogant gait.
Do some cats use the trill more than others? Yes! The trill is typical of cats with a more expansive, bubbly and lively personality; the shy ones, on the other hand, find it more difficult to express themselves and are also more discreet in showing their emotions.
How a cat communicates: Trilling vs Purring
The trill comes under the same category as purring, as both are vocalisations or murmurs made with the mouth closed and used for greeting, for attracting attention, recognition and approval. Unlike purring, however, the trill is a less deep and more high-pitched sound that always has a friendly meaning. Purring is generated by the movement of the glottis and is used in a wide variety of contexts. Small kittens purr to express happiness and mother cats purr to reassure their kittens, while in adulthood it is a sign of gratitude and so on.
It is hard to say how many sounds a cat makes; it is certainly true that these sounds allow very varied communicative interaction. Does your cat also talk to you by trilling?