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TRILLING (CHIRRUPING, CHIRRING, GRUNTING, MURMURING, COOING)

Trilling sounds are fairly short and often soft sounds rolled on the tongue with the mouth closed: : [mhrː], [mːrːut] or [brːh]. Often used during friendly approach or greeting, during play, and also as a friendly request or confirmation. There are several subtypes of trills. Grunts (or murmurs) are usually more low-pitched (and sometimes a bit harsh), while chirr(up)s are more high-pitched, sometimes with a rising melody. There may even be a third subtype; a murmur (or coo) without any trilling or rolling r-sound, which is more like a soft [m] or murmuring sound. Sometimes cats combine a grunt or chirr(up) with a meow sound, thus producing more complex vocalisation types: [mhriauw], [briuw] or [brːiau]. Combinations of purring and trilling are also common.

The image to the right shows the phonetic characteristics (waveform, spectrogram and pitch contour) and gives an audio example of a trill (in this case a chirrup, which is played back three times). Below you can find additional examples of different trills and combinations of trills and other sounds.

HIGH-PITCHED TRILLING: CHIRRUPING

  • Here you can find a few examples of the high-pitched and bright trills, i.e. chirrups.

DONNA TRILLS BY THE DOOR

Donna trills softly as a friendly request to be let outside into the garden.


KOMPIS TRILLS BY THE WINDOW

In this video clip the domestic cat Kompis greets me with a soft trill or chirrup by the kitchen window. I think he knows that I usually open the window and give him a small treat when I hear his friendly trills. 

VIMSAN TRILLS SOFTLY

Vimsan is in heat and trills softly. 

DONNA SQUEAKS, TRILLS AND PURRS ON MY LAP

The domestic cat Donna squeaks, trills and purrs simultaneously when she wants to cuddle.

LOW-PITCHED TRILLING: GRUNTING

  • The low-pitched grunt (or murmur) is also a friendly sound.

TURBO MEOWS AND GRUNTS

The domestic cat Turbo meows and then trills (grunts) softly and friendly to solicit a treat.

TURBO GRUNTS IN HIS SLEEP

Turbo often grunts or murmurs softly when I pet him while he sleeps.

TRILL-MEOWING

  • Often, a trill is combined with a meow. Here are a few examples of this complex sound.

DONNA MEOWS, TRILLS AND TRILL-MEOWS

Donna uses meows, trills and trill-meows to encourage me to follow her to the door, so that I can let her out into the garden.