How To Deal With Cat Hissing

photo of angry cat hissin

The sound and appearance of a cat hissing can be a scary experience. The cat will simultaneously display other aggressive behavior too - i.e. crouching, with his back arched, mouth half open, eyes half shut, ears back, tail lashing and fangs bared.


There are a lot of reasons why cats hiss. Although it appears to be purely aggressive, they may be frightened, trying to defend their territory or even sick.

The combination of the aggressive stance, menacing expression and loud hiss is enough to send anyone - or anything - running for cover.

One thing is for sure, a cat that's hissing is telling the person or animal it's aimed at to back off in no uncertain terms.

This page covers reasons why cats hiss, and offers some advice with dealing with specific situations. Click here for some practical, general advice on what to do if you're confronted by a hissing cat.




What Can I Do To Stop My Cat Hissing?


The answer to this depends on the reason why they are hissing. Here are some common reasons:

You've just got a new kitten or cat

If you've recently got a new kitten, your adult kitty may hiss at her initially either to establish who's boss, or to warn the kitten off if she's becoming a bit too boisterous.

Usually this isn't a problem and won't require intervention from you. The adult is setting boundaries that the kitten will quickly learn. Click here for advice on introducing a new kitten to your adult cat.


It's very rare that an adult will maliciously attack a kitten.

photo of cat scrap

If you've recently got an additional adult cat, there will be some hissing, growling and perhaps the odd scrap until the cats have established a pecking order.

The risk of a fight is greater with two adults than it is withn adult and kitten - but usually the fighting isn't serious - it sounds and looks much worse than it actually is because of all the noise and aggressive body language.

This is perfectly normal and shouldn't require any intervention unless the fighting gets serious. To reduce the risk of a war developing, the introductions should be done in a controlled way. The same principles apply for introducing a new adult as those for introducing a new kitten.


Fighting

Fighting cats hiss at each other - before, during and after the fight. Sometimes a fight won't actually start if one cat can scare the other off.

Fighting is part and parcel of un-neutered male cat behavior; un-neutered males are much more likely to fight than any other cats.

Getting your cat neutered will greatly reduce his urge to fight, reduce risks to his safety and health and generally make him into a much nicer pet.


Defense of his home against "invading" humans


Cats will sometimes hiss at human visitors, because they see them as a potential threat and "invader" of their home. Unfortunately this often happens (though not exclusively) after they have been badly treated by someone, and they are very mistrustful of people they doesn't know as a result.

If this cat hissing happens, the best way to deal with it, if possible, is to ignore it. Neither you or your visitor should shout at Kitty or stare at him - both of these actions increase the risk of upsetting him further and an attack.

Once Kitty has calmed down, if your visitor hasn't run for the hills, get them to hold some of your his favorite treats. If your visitor is nervous about holding the treats at first, just put them on the floor or chair next to where they're sitting.

If he wants the treats badly enough, he'll have to approach the visitor. Over time, he'll start to trust your visitor and cease to see them as a threat.


Other Reasons

Cat hissing is part and parcel of aggressive cat behavior. This could be due to many factors, including:

  • A fear of humans

  • Un-neutered male behavior

  • Getting carried away during play

  • Becoming aggressive while being petted

  • Wanting to dominate (could be other cats or humans!)

  • A nursing mother getting defensive in order to protect her kittens

Click here for detailed information and advice on all these topics.

Click here to learn about the origins of this behavior (it's pretty fascinating!)


Finally...

If your cat hissing suddenly starts, out of the blue, for no logical reason in a normally docile, easy-going pet, I'd recommend a trip to the vet to make sure Kitty isn't sick.


I have answered a lot of visitors' questions on cat hissing which may help you. To find those answers, please use the search box below:


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