Why Do Cats Hiss?

Cats are curious creatures with a lot of little quirks and behaviors that have even animal behaviorists puzzled at times. They are far different than canines and are not as easy to understand, since their behaviors are not quite as straight forward as the happy-go-lucky puppy. Most of us have either heard a cat hiss, or have actually been on the other side of the hiss, with the noise being directed right you. It can be a little unnerving to hear the snake-like noise come out of a cute little feline, and maybe even frightful, because you aren’t sure what they intend to do next. So what makes a cat hiss to begin with? There have been different reasons formulated as to why cats hiss, and those who have studied this behavior say that there are several different reasons, and most originate from a negative type of feeling by the cat, in some form or fashion.

To understand better, keep reading to see what the different types of hissing are, and why they do it.

1. In-pain hiss

When a cat is pain, they have no other way to really express they are in pain to someone when they are touched or handled except to hiss. They are letting you know that they don’t want to be touched or handled and to let them go. They are known to hiss at veterinarians for this very reason. It’s common for a cat to hiss at the doctor if they are being seen for an injury or aren’t feeling well. They don’t want to be poked or prodded, especially if the poking is creating more pain.

2. Warning hiss

The warning hiss can be delivered for any number of reasons. For instance, if a mother cat feel like her kittens are being threatened or in danger, she may hiss at an intruder. A cat may hiss at another cat or animal if it feels threatened because it doesn’t know the other animal. It means, “back up, stay away from me.” In the same regards, if a cat were to be introduced to a new environment and feel uncomfortable with the new people in it, the feline may be nervous and want you to keep your distance, so he hisses his feelings towards you.

3. The non-recognition, aggression hiss

This hiss is one that typically stems from a cat not recognizing his cat friend by smell. An example of this would be that one of the cats goes to the vet and comes back with the smell of the clinic on him, and not his normal smell. This may confuse your other cat and make him anxious, or nervous and out of aggression, he hisses at his friend. Once the cat gets his normal scent back, the other feline will warm back up to him.

4. Play hiss

This is a different type of hiss that is recognized by the fact that it is usually a shorter hiss and not a long, drawn out hiss like you’d hear in the other, “serious and means business,” hisses. A kitten is the most likely to exhibit this type of hiss, when he feels playful and frisky and typically doesn’t mean any action will be taken with the sound. A kitten can also hiss if his siblings get a little rough in play, and it will be his way to let them know to settle down.

When a cat hisses, you should always be prepared that it may become aggressive following the noise. They may try to bite, scratch or make another aggressive move. It is always best to back up and give a cat his space when it makes a hissing noise, until you discover what it is that made the cat hiss or try to resolve the issue, such as an injury or let him get adjusted to the situation.


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