A cat’s hiss sounds like a radiator working on overload.
One moment your cat is sitting peacefully and minding her own business, and at the next moment, your feline friend hisses at the family dog who’s there to play with your kitty.
It is not hard to miss.
Your cat’s ears flatten back arches and tail fluff out in a poofy plume. You may even think that your cat is comical.
But, why do cats hiss?
In this blog post, I will go through several reasons why cats hiss and what it all means in as much detail as I can.
Let’s begin, shall we?
This History of Cat Hissing: Origins
According to feline behavior experts, cats learned how to hiss by imitating the sound that snakes make. It is true that mimicking the sound of other species is a survival technique used by many animals and a hiss is a type of distinct warning given by a cat when it means business.
What’s the Kitty Thinking When Hissing?
When a cat hisses, usually she’s feeling a mixture of confusion, unhappiness, fear, and surprise. Your cat’s adrenaline gets flowing as she’s scared and startled. Cats are operating on sheer instinct when they hiss.
Why Do Cats Hiss?
There are several reasons why cats hiss and it depends on one cat to another so, that’s something we can’t get into. However, following are some of the most common ones.
1. The warning hiss
To defend her kittens from intruders, a mother cat hisses as a warning. This is also true when two cats who haven’t been properly introduced yet meet as they hiss at each other as a way to say, “stay away from me!” This works by warning the other cat without escalating into an actual cat fight to protect oneself from an injury.
Cats also hiss when they meet an unfamiliar person in your home. They usually hiss at the other person because they don’t know them and carry the scents of other pets on their clothes. In this case, too, your cat is warning the individual to stay away.
2. The in-pain hiss
Cats also hiss in pain when you touch them in spots that hurt. In some cases, cats even hiss at the veterinarian because they don’t like being poked, prodded, and handles by them. This is especially true if your cat is in pain from the poking and prodding.
3. The feline non-recognition aggression hiss
If you’ve got multiple cats and you take one of them to the vet for a check up, chances are that your other cats will hiss at the cat who’s just come back from the vet just because he smells like the clinic. Cat’s don’t usually like the smell.
So, it becomes a part of a phenomenon known as non-recognition aggression where the cat no longer smells familiar and becomes a stranger until he gets the “family scent” back.
4. The play hiss
This hiss is generally a shorter one as compared to the defensive hiss and is common in kittens. Kittens hiss when the littermates are getting a little too rough in their play. Similarly, cats respond to a sudden loud noise by hissing and jumping up.
What to Do if a Cat Hisses at You?
The first thing you should keep in mind that hissing is a warning and cats hiss only when he feels frightened, vulnerable, or is in pain. So, cats need time to cool off before you approach them again.
Let the cat have some space and don’t chase after him.
It is a good idea to close the door to the room he’s in so that the cat can regain his composure without having to worry about being interrupted by other people and pets.
What if your cat hisses when you’re petting him?
Cats hiss when you’re petting them as they get overstimulated. If that’s the case, the best thing you can do is to stop petting your kitty and let her be for a while. If your cat wishes to go away, you should let him.
In the future, you should observe your cat’s body language while you’re petting her, In case the tail starts twitching or if the kitty keeps looking at your hand, you should stop. If you have kids, you must teach them to leave the cat alone if she hisses.
This helps to prevent potential injuries.
You should also consider adding vertical territory. This way, your cat has a way to be in a room with the family but, at a high vantage point. This helps the cat enjoy your company without having to deal with pesterers like dogs and kids.
What if You Have to Handle a Hissing Cat?
You should back off if your cat hisses. However, you can’t do that in case of a medical emergency.
Usually, in-pain, injured, and ill cats hiss because they know that they can’t fight people and predators and hope that hissing will warn them away. However, you will need to pick up your injured or sick cat to take her to the vet for treatment.
You will need to protect yourself because usually, cats in pain are likely to lash out with claws and teeth when you try to handle them.
Summing Up: Why Do Cats Hiss?
A cat’s hiss is designed to make animals and people back off.
So, as long as you respect your kitty’s personal boundaries, you won’t really encounter many hisses. If your cat hisses at you, the best thing you can do is to stay away from your feline friend and give her some space to cool off.
If your cat hisses on the family dog, you should make sure to keep the dog away for a while to prevent injuries.
Do you have questions? If so, leave them in the comments, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.