white cat on a furry rainbow rug
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Does Your Cat Sound Like A Pigeon? Experts Explain Why

It’s the sound of a happy cat.

Cats are chatty little creatures who can say a lot more than the standard “meow.” But why does my cat sound like a pigeon sometimes? Their occasional cooing noises can be terribly cute, and there’s generally a positive reason your cat makes these sounds.

What Is A Trill?

“That ‘cooing’ sound that some cats make is typically referred to as a trill,” Dr. Georgina Ushi Phillips, DVM at Better With Cats, tells Romper in an email. “When cats trill, it almost sounds like a rolling “r” with a rising intonation.” It’s like the cat is trying to ask you a question.

It’s A Sign Your Cat Is Happy

“Cats usually trill, or coo like a pigeon, when they’re happy and saying hello,” says Dr. Phillips. “Mom cats will also use this sound to get the attention of their kittens and trilling is almost always a sign of a happy cat.” It’s a sweet way to say hi. “These trills and chirrups are considered a friendly greeting,” Dr. Mikel (Maria) Delgado, Cat Behavior Expert with Rover, tells Romper. Although they may not smile exactly like humans, there’s plenty of other ways to tell if your cat is happy, one of which is frequently meowing (or trilling) at you.

Here’s Shorty the cat demonstrating some happy trills.

It’s Part Of Your Cat’s ‘Vocabulary’

“Cats can make a large variety of sounds (at least 12 different vocalizations have been identified by scientists), and every cat can have a unique ‘voice,’” says Dr. Delgado. “One cat's pigeon sound may be another cat's squawk.” So it’s totally typical for cats to have their own unique sort of trill. “Just as individual cats can have different sounding meows, the same is true for trilling and different felines may have more emphatic trilling sounds than others,” says Dr. Phillips.

The Cat Wants Your Attention

“When your cat makes these cute sounds at you, they likely get attention from you, increasing the chance that they will coo at you again next time they would like you to attend to them!” says Dr. Delgado. They trill, you give them pets or food, they trill again, and the cycle continues. It’s a feedback loop of the cat doing something cute and getting rewarded for it, so of course they’ll keep on trilling.

Now you know that whenever your cat makes that distinct cooing noise, they’re saying hello, expressing happiness, or trying to grab your attention. At any rate, it’s generally a positive sign your cat likes interacting with you.


Dr. Georgina Ushi Phillips, DVM at Better With Cats

Dr. Mikel (Maria) Delgado, Cat Behavior Expert with Rover