Cats are pretty vocal animals. By this, we mean that they are known to give you a piece of their mind. But, why do cats hiss?
Hissing is a fearful behavior that serves as a warning to others. It is also linked to other unpleasant emotions like rage and distrust. It could also be a symptom of a health problem. There is a possibility that anxiety is preventing the cat from being comfortable in his environment.
Let’s understand the reasoning behind the cat’s hissing.
Origins Of A Cat’s Hissing
According to some feline behavior specialists, the cat learned to hiss by emulating the sound of snakes. Many creatures employ mimicking the sounds of other species as a survival strategy, and a hiss is an unmistakable warning signal. Nevertheless, these two animals have remained the most known for their hissing.
Growls, snarls, and hisses are all vocalizations linked with aggressive behavior, whether offensive or defensive. In addition, they’re generally accompanied by a postural display that’s meant to make the perceived threat look bigger.
If the threat is not removed by the hiss and growl warning, the cat may strike. When a human picks up a kitten as young as two to three weeks old, it hisses and spits. “Spitting” is a shortened variant of hissing that is louder and more dramatic.
Why Do Cats Hiss?
It’s easy to think your cat is hissing for no reason. Yet, hissing is usually related to negative feelings such as distrust, rage, displeasure, uncertainty, pain, or a mix of these. Hissing is one of the few sounds in cats that carry little hesitation. It’s employed as a protective warning to ward off an approaching foe.
Cat hisses aren’t all the same. Here are a few possible reasons why your cat is hissing at you. It might not be what you expect. It’s not about hatred, as you may have already guessed.
Reasons Why A Cat Hisses
A Heads-up Warning
Cats avoid getting into fights in the wild because an injury can result in a lingering death. If a cat in your surroundings or your home hisses, it could be a warning to stay away from a fight.
If it’s your cat, you’re probably doing something dangerous. It’s possible that your cat is fatigued or a little more territorial than usual. If you’ve recently moved the furnishings, your cat might be missing its old haunts.
This hiss is likely to be heard when your cat is monitoring another animal, especially another cat, and is feeling territorial. However, there is the possibility that an unintentional cat habit could develop if the cat is exclusively focused on territorial behavior.
Territorial behavior in cats can appear in a variety of ways and for a variety of causes. Cats are naturally more territorial than dogs, and they can also be solitary. Urine marking (spraying), hissing, stalking, or fighting another cat are common forms of territorial behavior in cats.
Protecting Their Offsprings
If a cat has just given birth, there may be a lot of hissing going on. The mother cat may refuse to let trustworthy humans touch the kittens until she is sure they are safe. If the cat is not used to being around humans, hissing may be followed by aggressive behavior.
A cat’s maternal instinct includes love and care for her offspring. All mammalian species, including horses, pigs, dogs, and cats, are affected. The mother will go to any length to protect her children, even if it means endangering her own life. Familiar faces are rarely a concern, while unknown humans, dogs, and male cats pose a significant threat to the protective queen and her young.
Triggered By Humans
Hissing at you usually signals you’ve approached the cat too rapidly, or they’re not sure what you’re about to do.
Even a cat with whom you have a deep relationship may hiss at you. However, hissing is a natural reaction to a stressful circumstance, and it does not indicate that the cat dislikes you.
Cats aren’t as good at pleasing people as dogs are. If you have small children, you may need to keep an eye on them during their time together to ensure they are not mistreating your cat. Cats may hiss as a warning to tiny toddlers who don’t recognize or appreciate animal boundaries.
Humans can unintentionally cause hissing in a variety of ways, including the following:
- Grooming and nail trimming.
- Being compelled to travel in a carrier.
- Another animal’s scent on you. For example, after playing with the neighbor’s dog or cat, their scent may linger on you.
- Vacuuming or utilizing another ominous home device.
Should You Be Worried About Your Cat’s Hissing?
A veterinarian should examine a cat who frequently hisses to rule out any internal pain or discomfort. Hissing, of course, includes evident indicators of distress. Do not hesitate to seek immediate care if your cat appears to be in pain, has an injury, or is in danger of hurting another pet or person in the house.
The following indicators may indicate that a medical condition causes the hissing:
- Appetite problems
- Low energy consumption
- Other changes in behavior, such as reclusiveness
The main factors that should be on top of your list when considering hissing as something to be worried about are the following:
It’s possible that your cat’s hissing is due to stressors in his life or environment. Cats have a hard time dealing with stress. They can effortlessly switch between flight, freeze, and battle modes. Usually, they choose to freeze or flee to avoid fighting, but they will hiss defensively on occasion.
It’s been suggested that some cat stress is caused by exposure to loud noises or “quick, erratic movements.” As a preventative measure, you should establish a peaceful, gentle, and quiet environment for your cat. They enjoy affection, but they also need to feel secure. If a cat does not feel safe in a situation, it will avoid it or engage in conflict.
Physical pain is one of the less common causes of a cat hissing, but it’s not unheard of. For example, it may happen if you’re petting him in an area that hurts him. In addition, cats with arthritis may hiss when jumping off a chair or moving in a way that causes discomfort to flare up.
It’s crucial to be attentive to determine whether a hiss is caused by pain or anxiety. First, take note of when and where the cat is hissing, and then take action to repair the situation, whether that means changing your behavior or getting your cat to the vet if you suspect pain. It’s critical not to dismiss this warning with any hiss your cat does.
Hissing is an often misunderstood characteristic in cats. However, contrary to popular opinion, it is not an aggressive habit, and it is not a typical practice for aggressive cats. When it comes to cat-to-cat dynamics and cat’s aggressiveness, the cat who hisses regularly is nearly invariably the victim or the one who is being chased or antagonized.
Hissing is a natural way for cats to convey their discomfort, fear, or tension. For example, if they feel threatened, insecure, and uneasy, you will hear a hiss. Hissing is just a display of feeling, such as “I’m upset,” “I’m threatened,” “I’m uneasy,” or “I’m terrified.”
Your cat may feel vulnerable, intimidated, or insecure, whether it is hissing at veterinary workers or a newcomer to the household. If you try to “correct” or “penalize” your cat for hissing, you will aggravate an already unpleasant or frightening scenario. The moral of the story is we must accept hissing as a necessary part of animal behavior and deal with it accordingly.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.