Why do cats hiss?
Are you thinking about why do cats hiss at human beings and also hiss at each other? Is it a way of expressing fear or aggression or hatred? Are they trying to imitate a snake? How to deal with a hissing cat? Bang on! You are at the right place.
To learn more, continue reading this article to discover the real reason behind cats hissing behavior.
Why and how do cats hiss?
Kitten hissing is an act of defense to send a clear cut warning.
At any point of time you hear a cat hissing, then that means the cat is unhappy, scared and has felt an immediate threat / danger or wants to send a warning signal. So when you come across a vocal and visual warning from a cat, never take it lightly; because they hiss to frighten away whatever or whomever she is hissing at.
There are a number of reasons why a cat might be hissing at another cat or hissing at you or other people or other animals / pets.
Some of the reasons are enumerated below
- A cat hisses when she feels a threat can be from another cat or other animal
- Or when the cat is being handled by a veterinarian. Because she/he may not like the way they are being handled or poked.
- Or when the cat is being handled by the cat parent and she/he is uncomfortable.
- A mother cat is very protective of her kittens. She can hiss at other cats, animals or at a human if they get very close to her kittens. In such a situation, it is better to give her and the little kittens some extra space and time so that she feels safe.
- Cats can even hiss when she/he see an unfamiliar object or a person.
- When he/she feel that the territory is being taken away or is being shared and attention given to him / her will be taken away from a new pet.
- Cats also hiss when they get scared.
Doesn’t a hissing cat resemble a snake which is about to attack?
Yes, both facially and the way the body moves resembles a snake which is about to strike. While hissing, cat forces a burst of air out of the tongue.
Below mentioned changes occur when a cat is hissing:
- His / her tongue will be arched,
- He / she pulls the lips back,
- The tail will be fluffed
- His / her ears will be in a flattened position against the head
- Hairs erected and
- The body will be arched.
What does it mean when a cat hisses?
Generally cats do not like to get into a physical battle and hence they rely on the body posture and hissing to give a warning to the opponent. That doesn’t mean she will not get into battle; if required, an enraged cat can attack the opponent after giving vocal and visual warning.
- The cat that is hissing may be trying to frighten whatever it is hissing at.
- The cat hisses when she is being attacked or if she senses some danger or threat and is scared.
- Or as an act of warning when she is aggressive and is ready to engage in a battle if required.
What to do if you come across a hissing cat?
You must be thinking about – what can I do if I come across a hissing cat right? Follow the below mentioned advice to be on a safer side.
- Don’t go near a hissing cat, just back off.
- Give him / her time to calm down.
- Don’t touch a cat while hissing. She can attack you by scratching or can even end up biting.
- Don’t punish a hissing cat.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the hissing cat. Looking directly into his / her eyes might make the cat even more aggressive.
- If she is hissing continuously, make sure she/he is not in pain. Cats also hiss if they are going thru some ailment or physical injury.
- When a cat is hissing at you, avoid moving suddenly.
- Ignore him/her for some time.
- Ensure the cat has a lot of hiding places in a separate room with all the amenities like toys etc.
- Don’t try chasing a hissing cat.
Why do cats hiss at cat parent?
Some of the common reasons why cats hiss at cat parents are listed below
- If you force a cat to do things which she does not like or
- If you are not handling the cat gently or
- When a cat is overstimulated then she/he will end up hissing at you.
Cats also hiss when you move him/her away from the favorite place – like bed or sofa when you get the cat off the counter, etc are some of the common reasons why they get uncomfortable and furious.
Most cats – possibly with the exception of un-neutered tom cats – don’t actually want a fight. They don’t enjoy being hurt or the prospect of it.
Their reason for hissing and all the other aggressive body language that goes with it is to try and frighten off the person /cat/dog etc. who it’s directed at so that a fight can be avoided.
For this reason, if you follow my advice above, you’ll stand the best chance of coming away from the exchange unscathed. Click here for more detailed information on dealing with hissing cats.