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Why Do Cats Trill When They Jump? 4 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 7, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cream-colored-maine-coon-cat-jumping-over-the-couch_Nils-Jacobi_shutterestock

Why Do Cats Trill When They Jump? 4 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

VET APPROVED

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)

Veterinarian

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

In the wild, cats remain fairly silent. Their purrs, hisses, growls, and yowls are mainly for communication, not something they do casually as they go about their day. So, why do our domestic kitties get so vocal when they jump?

When a cat is pleased and cheerful, they will typically make chirrups and squeaky little trills. Cats often trill before they jump because they want to express something to you by doing so. Meowing, trilling, and growling are a part of a cat’s language. They use these noises to communicate with other humans and other animals.

Let’s look at the common reasons that they may do this specifically when they jump across the room.

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The 4 Reasons Why Cats Trill When They Jump

1. Commanding Attention

The act of trilling before actually jumping can be more than just a greeting; it can also be your cat’s way of attracting your or other household members’ attention. If you appear too preoccupied with studying to notice your furry buddy alone in the living room, your cat may let you know.

Your cat may abruptly leap from somewhere in front of you after a slight trill at this stage. The seemingly random trill is intended to alert you to the fact that you’re not giving them the attention they deserve at the moment—as if to say, “I’m here, notice me.”


2. Exaggerated Greeting

Sometimes your cat may simply be excited to see you, and as a result will jump across the furniture, alerting you when doing so. This is an especially common greeting with cats that are young or that are happy with their home life. It’s not really considered a bad thing, but more of an interesting and adorable benefit of a feline friend.

blue tabby maine coon cat running outdoors
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

3. Satisfaction or Motivation

Cats aren’t the only ones that do this; people do as well. Can you recall sighing while kickboxing, taking a huge step forward, or jumping really high? Cats gain confidence and inspire themselves by trilling before they jump.

This, understandably, may motivate them to leap higher, faster, and more accurately since they could be confronted with a new challenge. Think of a basketball player doing a slam dunk or yourself when you do air pumps after you get a raise at work or an “A” on a test.


4. Fear

Believe it or not, cats may also trill when they take leaps and underestimate the difference between where they are and where they plan on landing. This may result in them taking a slight tumble. You may notice the cat making this unusual sound while mid-flight or as they tumble to this floor, though they may recover pretty quickly from the fall.

If your cat doesn’t recover quickly, it’s best to give them a good look over to ensure that they haven’t injured themselves. Also, don’t be surprised if your cat immediately tries the same jump right after falling into the floor. In many ways, cats act like children; sometimes it’s not what you can teach them, but more of what they have to figure out for themselves.

Cat Tail Puff Angry Scared_
Image Credit: YuryKara, Shutterstock

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The 6 Reasons Why Cats Jump to and From Furniture

1. It’s a Sign of Happiness

Cats are very expressive animals, and those expressions are visible in the face, the tail, and the body. When your kitty jumps around like a pogo stick, they’re showing their delight. Maybe they’ve found a new toy or discovered a way to get up to that high shelf you’ve always told them was off-limits. Whatever the reason, cats are happy when they make noise when they jump.

Image Credit: liliy2025, Pixabay

2. It Can Be a Declaration of Territory

We’ve all seen pictures of cats marking their territory by spraying their scent on surfaces or making a pile of sand. Equally, we’ve seen a cat scratch up furniture or mats.

When cats jump on high places, they’re not only playing (or hunting prey), but they’re also marking their territories. They’re letting other cats and animals know that they’re in charge. Jumping on tables, counters or high bookshelves is similar to spraying their scent or scratching on a surface.


3. It Helps Them Gauge Distance

Cats are very curious creatures. When they jump, they’re not only playing or marking their territory, but they also want to know how far they can jump. If your cat has a high perch, they might gaze out the window from time to time. One reason that cats jump is to gauge the distance they need to jump down to get to that window.

Yes, cats have a very good sense of balance and can judge distances, but there’s no way they can tell how high the window is or exactly how far they have to jump to get there. By jumping up and down from their perch, they can gauge the distance and depth they need to jump to get to the window.

Tabby kitten sitting on cat tree perch
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

4. They’re Warming Up Their Muscles

Cats are very agile animals, and jumping is a big part of their hunting routine. When cats jump up high, they’re warming up their muscles not only for hunting but also for landing. When cats land, they can’t just drop down to the ground, but instead, they have to control their fall and even their landing position.

When cats jump from higher places, they’re preparing for that landing position. By jumping from high places, they’re able to adjust their balance and land in a crouched position.


5. They Practicing Hunting and Killing Prey

Cats are carnivores, and they are hunters by nature. They are also very patient and cunning creatures, and they can easily wait for hours for their prey to get close enough for the kill. Jumping from high places is an important part of the hunting ritual for cats.

When felines jump from high places, they’re simulating the movements and the jumps they make when hunting prey. This helps them to hone their hunting skills.

American shorthair cat lying on the couch
Image Credit: Clement Morin, Shutterstock

6. They Do It in Self-Defense

Cats can be very territorial, and if a larger animal (perhaps a dog) comes into the vicinity where your kitty is, they may feel the need to defend themselves. One way they do this is by jumping. Cats can jump high in the air, and if they’re on a high perch or other high place, they can leap down and attack any potential threat. Because they’re lighter than most dogs, they can leap down on the dog with great force and cause them pain and even injury.

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Final Thoughts

To many cat owners, it may seem like cats can make any sound, and sometimes the meaning is beyond us. Some cats are extremely vocal creatures and generally use a variety of sounds to communicate with others, both human and otherwise. The most popular sounds that cats make include trilling, purring, hissing, and caterwauling.

However, when they’re happy and in a “jumpy” mood, they may make more noise. Cats may call out to their owners or other cats (even if they’re not in the room). It may be just a short chirp or a full-blown meow, and it doesn’t matter; as long as it’s coming from your cat, it usually means they’re happy.


Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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