Cats always seem to have something new with which to surprise humans, and first-time owners may be surprised by some of the noises cats make, including trilling. Trilling is a cross between a meow, and a purr.
If you are unsure about what kind of sound a trill is, then check the video at the bottom of the post.
My Cat Is Trilling. Am I in Trouble?
If your cat is trilling, then it is a good thing! Trilling is a form of feline greeting or fond acknowledgement of your presence. Trilling is meant to get a person’s attention, and is used either as a greeting or kind notification of the cat’s presence, or the recognition of your presence.
Cats learn trilling from a very young age, as kittens, from their mother, who uses trilling as a signal to indicate that she wants her offspring to follow her. As such, kittens will learn to trill, as a means of getting attention or greeting. Once grown up, adult cats will continue to use the same vocalization to greet, both cats and humans. The trill is usually a sign of happiness, and the desire to get attention, either from another cat or his human. Along with trilling, he may also exhibit other behavior such as rubbing against your leg, or raising his back as a way to initiate petting.
If your cat is trilling (at you) then he is most likely looking for your attention. Since trilling is used as a means of getting attention, your cat may trill and then walk away from you, but look back to make eye-contact, in which case it is a pretty safe bet that he is trying to show you something. It could be something as simple as an empty water dish.
If the trilling seems excessive and not particularly meant as an affectionate acknowledgement or greeting, nor a means of getting your attention for any obvious reason, then it may be an indication of there being something physically wrong with your cat. In such cases it may be necessary to visit your veterinarian in order to rule out any potential problems.
Another reason why cats trill is if they are at an advanced age, and is trilling as a result of disorientation and frustration due to reduced limitations brought on by old age.
On occasion cats who trill may continue to trill if a person trills in return, and the back and forth trilling between cat and human will feel like a conversation.
So in most cases, trilling done by a healthy cat is nothing more than a upbeat greeting or a means of getting attention.