At a very young age, our children are taught that felines only use the word ” meow.” However, anyone who has cats knows that our feline companions have the ability to communicate lots more. However, this does not mean that we know what they’re trying to communicate If your cat’s cooing sounds reminiscent of an owl or a dove and you’re feeling particularly confused.
We’ve enlisted Amelia Wieber, CPDT-KA, CCBC, trainer in FFCP and proprietor of Caring Behavior Animal Behavior Consulting in Frederick, Co., and a member of the Daily Paws’ Advisory Board to serve as an interpreter between humans and cats.
How do Cats communicate
“If cats could send you a text but they couldn’t.”
While this joke is the kitty’s truth, however, the truth is that cats don’t have a problem communicating. In fact, they’re quite savvy. American Association of Feline Practitioners states that they have four distinct methods to communicate:
- Visual includes the body’s posture and eye contact and the tail, ear, and head position
- Tactile includes touching others grooming, rubbing, and touching the nose (a way of greeting)
- Olfactory includes fecal or the marking of urine
- Auditory It includes all vocalizations of cats including hissing or hissing
Cat vocalizations that resemble the coos of pigeons, therefore belong to the very complex auditory category. A review 2019 of the literature available identified various feline voice sounds. It was speculated that the actual number is much higher. The review also pointed out that the vocal range of domestic cats is described as more complex and developed than any other carnivore. So your cat has earned the right to appear a bit cocky at times.
There are a few reasons why your cat sounds like a pigeon
That oddly strange sound your cat makes–that sounds like the sound of a dove or pigeon cooing has an official term”trilling. “To me, it’s an extremely high-pitched, short hum that is accompanied by a slight rumble at the side of the pet’s neck,” Wieber explains. “It is often heard as punctuated by the sound of a question mark.” When she tries to mimic her cat’s trilling Wieber makes a quick rolling ‘r’ or tongue movement. “It’s technically referred to as an apical-alveolar trill in humans when they do this,” she adds.
We now know the official name for the purrs that resemble pigeons, and we can now move on to the translation. What is the reason cats trill? According to Wieber, There are two main causes for the booming vocalization of cats:
1. It’s a sign that your cat is happy
If your cat’s chirping sounds welcoming and friendly, it’s likely to be the case! “Cats will trill when happy to greet one another or their human” Wieber explains. If your cat chirps when she meets you, then you could imagine it as an affectionate greeting. You will surely feel the warmth that follows.
2. It’s a sign that your cat Doesn’t Want Your Attention
You’re likely to have not consciously taught your cat to trill through creating a positive feedback loop. This is because trilling is a great method for cats to attract attention from their owner. “In my home, We almost always respond to feline trillings by using ourselves,” Wieber says. Once your cat has your interest it’s much more likely that she will receive what she wants from you (e.g. petting, food, play), and this only increases the behavior of her trilling. This is yet an additional reason to allow your cat to feel proud of her ability to communicate.
Related What’s the reason Cats Do Wag Tails? This is what your cat is Doing to Tell You
Are All Cats Trill?
“It’s my belief that all cats that have normal larynx function are able to trill,” Wieber explains. “However there are cats that are more vocal than others and the volume may vary.” There are three cats in her home that are all very vocal however, she considers her cat Moscow the King of Trilling. “He will trill when he enters an area when he’s seeking attention when he greets other cats and even to himself while playing with toys,” Wieber continues. “Moscow is an extremely affectionate and social cat, and I interpret the trilling as a sign of his playful personality.”
If you’ve never heard your cat’s sound trills, Wieber does not see a reason to worry. “However the next when you meet cats, give them food and play, pay attention to their trill” she suggests. “You most likely didn’t notice it until now.”
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