Cat hissing is a ubiquitous trait found in every feline species in the world.
Picture this: it’s a nice, sunny day, and you and your tabby are chilling on the sofa, watching some tunes on the telly. A bird flies over and perches on the nearby windowsill, cooing loudly.
Instantly your cat stretches its back, curves its jaw, and makes an unmistakably loud hissing sound. It sounds eerily similar to a snake!
You are perplexed and pondering over the reasons why cats hiss. Is it fear? To establish dominance? Or a secret cat code for something beyond petty human comprehension?
If you’ve had questions like this, then don’t worry! In this article, we delineate the causal factors of why cats hiss. For the loving and worried pet owners out there, we inform you of hacks to tackle cat hissing!
Features Of Cat Hissing
Before understanding the reason behind a cat’s hissing, we should gain some clarity on its features.
Hissing is the sound of cats forcing air through their mouths during exhalation. Their lips are usually parted with bared teeth. Often, it is accompanied by fierce facial expressions, upturned ears, and a curved back.
The sound is similar to that of a tire getting punctured or a snake’s.
Like many other animals, cats have an extensive range of phonetic sounds. They produce sounds like meowing, purring, howling, amongst many.
Such a wide range of vocalizations are helpful since they allow cats to express themselves clearly. Cats uniquely produce sounds for expressing fear, anger, safety, and so much more!
Why Do Cats Hiss?
Hissing is a very typical behaviour despite it sounding scary. There are many reasons behind a cat’s hissing.
A few cardinal reasons for a cat to hiss are:
As A Sign Of Warning
Cats often hiss at other animals and humans. It’s their way of asking the other to stay away and back off.
Generally, cats are socially aloof animals (don’t generalize, though!) who like to avoid confrontation at all costs. They hiss at others to avoid coming in close contact.
The most common reason why cats hiss is to ward off danger. Often, we see mother-cats hiss at others when they’re with their kittens. Such hissing isn’t because the mother dislikes her kids socializing, but instead, she tries to protect them from harm.
She isn’t sure about the other person’s intentions and actions, so she hisses to make a statement.
While hissing, a cat’s most vital assets, sharp teeth and sneers, are visible. Such an intimidating presence is bound to scare off most attackers!
Hissing as a preemptive warning is very common among stray cats who often find themselves in dangerous situations. They have to learn to defend themselves and scare off attackers at a young age and very frequently.
To Indicate Pain
When a cat is in pain – either they’ve fallen sick or bruised – hissing is an effective way to communicate that they’re hurting.
If you or the veterinarian touch a sensitive spot on the cat’s body, they may hiss at you to give a message. Either they’re telling you it hurts, or they’re asking everyone to stop touching such areas.
Prodding and touching may cause even more damage to the cat, so hissing in such scenarios is needed.
When Faced With Unfamiliarity
Cats like to be surrounded by familiarity, comfort, and stability. If the cat’s owner were supposed to travel or leave, many cats would prefer to stay within the comforts of home instead of leaving along with their owner!
If new objects or people are on a cat’s home turf, they may feel an overwhelming sense of emotions. Such novelty could mean anything from furniture to a new baby.
Cats may undergo anxiety, annoyance, fear, or a little of all three. Hence, as a pet owner, you must ensure your furry friend is as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Make them feel at ease as best as you can.
Manifestation Of Stress
Just like humans, cats can feel stressed. Whether it’s taking care of their naughty litter of kittens or constant boredom, cats can undergo fluctuating moods, too!
When a cat feels low, it can manifest those feelings by hissing. Fight or flight is a prevalent response faced by cats when placed in harsh circumstances.
If a cat is placed in a situation causing them to fight or flee, hissing is commonly adopted.
While Indulging In Rough Play
The hissing seen in play can sound slightly different. Here, the cat isn’t necessarily in danger or threat.
Kittens often mimic a playful sort of hissing when playing with their other feline friends and family.
Like how young kids whine or tsk when they’re annoyed while playing, kittens do the same! If their playmate is bugging or teasing them, a kitten may adorably hiss back to tell them to stop.
Why Do Cats Hiss At You?
“Why does my cat hiss at me?” As understood above, hissing is a message a cat is trying to convey to those around it.
Hence, when a cat hisses at you, try to stop whatever you are doing and attempt to understand what it means.
If a stray cat is hissing at you, they may be attempting to protect themselves. Since the stray doesn’t know you, it hisses to avoid any threat of danger or abuse you may bring.
When it comes to pets, hissing may not be as often, but it can happen. Don’t feel offended if your beloved cat is hissing at you – they’re trying to give a message!
Cats can hiss at their owner if they’re feeling tired, overstimulated, or forced. E.g., if you’re trying to bathe or trim your feline, they may hiss to express annoyance and the need to escape.
If there are loud appliances in the background, like the radio or vacuum, an overstimulated cat may hiss to tell you to turn it off.
If a cat has been engaged in play for very long periods, it may hiss to signify exhaustion or overstimulation.
If the cat is well-trained, don’t worry! Hissing doesn’t signify the chances of an attack. But, based on your preemptive understanding of why your cat is hissing, one should back off from them.
Why Do Cats Hiss At Kittens And Other Pets?
A new pet or kitten is a new addition to the home. Cats perceive this as a sign of disrupting the old and familiar and see other cats as a threat.
Hissing is a sort of initial warning to the other cats. It is a way for the cat to inform the other that they don’t like physical confrontation and hope you won’t bring any harm.
Unaware people see their cat’s hissing as an invitation to fight, but rather, it’s the opposite. The cat is trying to say it doesn’t want any physical fighting and that they would like some more time to figure the other “intruder” out!
How To Stop A Cat From Hissing?
Before understanding the measures to prevent cat hissing, a pet owner should first understand the causal reasons.
Hissing due to overstimulation, fear, hunger, stress, or exhaustion requires different responses. E.g., if your cat is lethargic and hissing continuously, it may be thirsty or hungry. Provide clean food and water, and your furry friend will be alright!
Paying attention to your cat’s signs of discomfort and tending to their needs is crucial. This one step will single handedly omit most of the hissing.
Some other ways to prevent hissing are:
- Provide food, toys, and play to relieve anxiety and stress.
- When your cat is on its best behaviour, provide food and other reinforcements as a reward.
- Give your cat its own space, bowl, downtime, and sleeping area.
- When frightened or annoyed, let your cat cool off on its own. Don’t stare, yell or provoke!
- If the cat displays sudden, frequent, or very aggressive hissing, consider taking them to the vet.
Cat hissing is normal behaviour. It can indicate several messages from fear, pain, annoyance, exhaustion, or a need for space.
Additionally, hissing is adopted when cats protect themselves from attackers, danger, and foreign objects.
When a cat hisses, one should remain calm. Try to discern the reason behind the act’s behaviour and appease it. Or else, let the cat be alone and give it some time to settle down.
Other measures to adopt to stop hissing are giving them ample alone time, food, and water. When introducing the cat to new people and pets, make them feel comfortable and secure.
Take them frequently to the vet to cancel signs of other illnesses, stress, or pain.
Fequenlty Askdesd Questions About Cat Hissing
My cat hissed at me for the first time. Should I be worried?
Hissing occurs due to several reasons. It is a normal behavioural response.
Ensure your cat is well-fed and hydrated. Allow it to enjoy its own free time and space. If your cat gives off signs of exhaustion or overstimulation, stop engaging with it.
If the cat is continuously hissing due to no discernible reason or being aggressive, you should visit the vet to rule out underlying causes.
What should I do if my cat is hissing?
Suppose it’s a stray cat; back off slowly. If it’s a pet cat, try to walk away and examine the causes.
If your cat seems hungry or thirsty, immediately provide some nourishment. If your cat is annoyed by any background sounds, tune it off.
If hissing is due to signs of pain or illness, take the cat to the vet or slowly attempt to provide care through the use of food, water, or toys.
If hissing is because of exhaustion or fear, leave the act as it is, and it’ll be fine!
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