Your cat sees a bug on the window. They open their mouths, and a shaky noise erupts just before they make the jump. A high-pitched meow during a series of rapid facial twitches where their mouth opens and closes coincidentally with each note from their shaky vibrato is known as “trilling.” Cats often trill before they jump, along with other curious movements such as raising their hindquarters and shaking as they prepare to pounce. Although we don’t know if there’s a scientific explanation, we’ve noticed a few anecdotal reasons why cats sometimes make this sound before they take the leap.
5 Reasons Your Cat Trills When They Jump
1. They’re excited
It’s not just when they jump. Some cats trill at the sight of their favorite treat, or when their people come home. The common consensus seems to point towards excitement, or anticipation for what’s next.
2. Your cat has set its sights on prey
Anything from a fly on the wall to a random piece of plastic can become the object of your cat’s eye, leading them to the “trill” of the chase.
3. They’re feeling jittery
Cats use an impressive amount of coordination to calculate their jumps. Almost every part of their body is involved in this strategic process, including their tail and whiskers for balancing and gathering sensory information. Even so, jumping to the human equivalent of a three-story building can be quite a daunting task. Cats who are feeling that nauseating mixture between excitement and nervousness may express their emotions by trilling.
4. They might be in pain
Although trilling is normally a positive behavior, your cat may be vocalizing to communicate they’re in pain. Notice if they’re displaying any unusual behavior, such as limping or reacting negatively when you touch them in certain places.
Domesticated cats are much louder than their wild counterparts because they rely on our attention and support. A cat who trills noisily may know that their behavior catches your attention—which can then become a habit.
Is Trilling Ever a Problem?
Like the chirp of a songbird, the trill of a cat is typically a happy sound that expresses excitement. Even so, if your cat usually doesn’t make a sound and suddenly starts trilling or making other noises, you might want to check to make sure they’re not showing any signs of injury or illness, just to be safe.
If you’ve determined your cat’s trilling is a form of attention-seeking behavior, make sure you’re spending enough time with your cat for them to feel cared for and loved.
Though they make it appear effortless, jumping takes an extreme amount of effort and concentration. Trilling usually expresses excitement or nervousness about taking the leap. Cats often trill in other circumstances, too, such as when they’re glad to see you come home or they’re seeking to pry your attention away from your current task. In general, trilling is a sign of a happy cat. Occasionally, though, they could be trying to tell you that they’re injured. As always, spending time with them can help you spot any unusual signs of illness early and give them comfort.
Featured Image Credit: SJ Allen, Shutterstock