Why Is My Cat Hissing?

A cat hissing -- it's a warning!

If under threat a cat is able to use a vocal sound as an inbuilt defense mechanism.

The sound is an almost exact copy of the hiss of a snake. Many predators will back off from attacking snakes because they know that many are venomous.

When hissing, a cat will often have its ears flattened against its head, its mouth gaping open and its tail thrashing.

All this serves to give the impression of a dangerous snake that the predator better not mess with.

A snake can be quite small but deadly if poisonous, and so it is able to warn off animals much larger and more powerful than itself, so a cat or a kitten hisses an imitation of a snake and so makes much larger animals back off and leave it alone.

Jungle wildcats developed the ability to hiss as a defensive warning and the ability stayed with the feline as it developed into the domestic cat as we know it today.

The Hiss That Avoids a Fight

Cats that live together can have their little spats. It is rare for two or more cats to share the same home without one cat having a hissing spat at some point or the other.

There will be a dispute about the possession of a particular perch or perhaps one will be in a playful mood and the other wants to be left alone.

hissing catA hiss serves as a very clear warning.
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Introduce a new cat and you can almost count on hissing, spiting, growling and, if you are not careful, actual fighting.

This animosity between the cats  will continue until a hierarchy is established.

The hissing is of course a good thing because if one cat is persuaded to back down, a Fight Between the Cats is avoided along with the risks of injury.

It is always best to introduce cats gradually.

Mom Hissing At Kittens



Why should a mom cat hiss at her kittens? Sometimes very young kittens can be a bit of a nuisance.

Sometimes the mother cat may need a bit of a rest and hisses at any of her kittens that try to get near her, they soon learn that mom hissing means keep away.

Perhaps the mother needs to go off on her own to hunt for prey, any offspring that tries to follow can be discouraged with a hiss.

When the kittens are older it is time they are weaned and learn to fend for themselves.

The mother will not tolerate a kitten hanging around when it is time for independence and her hisses get the message across.

Why Should Your Cat Hiss At You?

Your own, normally loving, feline hissing at you can be quite unnerving.

Why should your pet suddenly make that sound at you when you try to pet her, pick her up or even get near to her?

hissing kitten
A kitten hissing to give warning.

Perhaps you shouted at, or scolded, your cat for some misdeed in the past few days. You may have forgotten about the incident but your cat has not.

Cats often do not associate a telling off with the crime that they committed, they relate it to the human, perhaps perceiving the scolding as an unprovoked attack.

Next time you get near to them they think they are about to be attacked again and hiss to warn you off.

Your Hissing Cat May Be Unwell

Another reason that you may find your cat hisses at you is because she is injured or ill.

A sick or injured cat may not want to be picked up. In the case of injury, touching the injured part of her body may cause your cat considerable pain.

If it is out of character for your cat to hiss at you and there are other signs that she is not well – change in behavior, not eating or drinking, vomiting, not grooming herself etc. then the veterinarian needs to be consulted.

Your Cat Hisses At Strangers

Why is it that your cat takes a dislike to some of your visitors? Far from being welcomed with a friendly Purr or leg rub, they are greeted by your cat spitting and hissing.

Well, cats don't like some people just as some people don't like cats, and sometimes they are afraid of some people for no obvious reason.

Your cat can be helped to overcome their fear of your visitor by keeping a distance between them.

A healthy treat each time your cat sees the stranger can help foster positive feelings, and with patience your pet will allow their approach without hissing.

The best thing to do when faced with a cat or kitten hissing at you, is to step back and turn your gaze away. Give the cat some space and some time to calm down.

Do not admonish the cat at all and do not stare at it. A stare in the cat world is a threatening gesture, likely to result in the cat hissing even more.

Male Cat Behavior
The affects of neutering on male cat behavior. Neutering can vastly improve the behavior of a male cat, with benefits for both you and your pet.


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