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Why Does My Cat Sound Like a Pigeon? 3 Possible Reasons

Ashley Bates

By Ashley Bates

cat meowing

We all know that our cats make a fair share of strange and otherworldly noises. Sometimes their noises can surprise us, being very different from a meow or hiss. If you’ve ever heard a sound similar to a pigeon cooing, it actually has a name and a meaning. It’s called trilling, and in this article, we’re going to go over what trilling is, why your cat does it, and a few more details!

Trilling: What Is it?

Trilling is one of a cat’s many methods of communication. It has its own set of meanings, depending greatly on the overall mood of the situation. Trilling is used to chat with other cats, humans, and other creatures, too.

Trilling is high-pitched, repetitive, short-bursts of sound. It is a very distinct sound that sounds like an R “rolling”, such as in languages like Spanish, or as some people call it, “cooing like a pigeon”. It is completely distinct from other sounds a cat usually makes.

You can hear what it sounds like by clicking here. So, that’s cute and all, but what does it mean?

cat meow
Photo Credit: athree23, Pixabay

Why Do Cats Coo Like a Pigeon (Trill)?

1. Your Cat Wants Attention

To put it plainly and simply, your cat wants attention. They might come up to you and trill for a way to say, “Hello, I’m here.” Conversely, you might also hear this vocalization if you start giving your cat attention unexpectedly. It is a pleasing surprise in the event of first contact.

cat sitting on wooden floor and looking up
Photo Credit: Vera Aksionava, Shutterstock

2. Your Cat Is Chatting with You

Your cat is probably just looking for a way to communicate with you. Trilling is a way of showing curiosity or attentiveness. They might come up to you and try to questionably ask you what exactly you’re up to. Trilling seems to happen in a very positive or inquisitive fashion.

You can engage in conversation with them, and you can certainly expect reciprocation. Trilling can be followed up by meowing, purring, and other pleased vocalizations. They might even use their trill to lead you to the empty food bowl you forgot to fill. How polite.

3. Mom Cats Are Getting the Kitten’s Attention

You might also hear mother cats trill at their kittens. This is a way of grabbing the kittens’ attention and communicating things with them. It is very commonly seen in mother-to-kitten interactions. You can observe that in your daily life if you have a litter in your home.

Cat Sounds: What Are They and What Do They Mean?

Cats make plenty more sounds than just a trill. They have plenty of vocalizations, but before we dig into all that, let us blow your mind!

Did you know that feral cats don’t meow? It’s true. Well, sort of. They might meow every once in a while, but they mostly have no use for this vocalization because meowing in cats is mainly a way to interact with humans. Feral cats don’t make these interacting vocalizations. This is a behavior explicitly brought on by domestication.

The most common sounds cats make are:
  • Meow: The meow is the familiar sound we all know and love. It is among some of the first onomatopoeias we learn as children.
  • Purr: When a cat is really feeling good, most purr. Not only is this a sign of happiness, but the frequency of a cat’s purr also has the capability of healing.
  • Chattering: Chattering is the noise your cat makes while it looks eagerly at a bird or squirrel out the window. They are agitated and focused on the prey at hand, so much that they make this ungodly noise.
  • Growling: Growling is pretty self-explanatory; it’s a low roar of displeasure.
  • Hissing: Hissing means you or someone else better back off—these kitties are scared or mad, and you don’t want to stick around to find out which one it is.


Now you understand the trill. Maybe your cat isn’t mimicking a pigeon, but it certainly sounds similar. They make some pretty other interesting noises with individual meanings, too. We hope we’ve taught you something new about your cat and their ever-peculiar behaviors.

Featured Image Credit: Stanimir G.Stoev, Shutterstock

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