Most cat owners know all-too-well the scenario of you sitting with your cat, thinking you are both nice and comfortable and he’s minding his own business, when all of a sudden, the family dog bolts in the room, all playful and wanting to get something started. The cat as a whole other idea and leaps up in the air, suddenly his ears are pinned back, his mouth is agape and tongue is curled up into a U shape, and then there’s that all-too-familiar sound…the hisssss! Why do cats do this? Why do they hiss and where did it come from. Well here’s more info on that, and even what action you should take if your cat hisses at you. So let’s get started – Why is your cat always hissing?
A warning hiss
Mother cats often hiss as a warning to others, both cats, or other animals, and people. When an intruder tries to get too close to her youngin’s, she will let you know by way of hissing, which is her way of saying, “back off!” If the warning isn’t heeded, there may be a cat fight ensued. In another instance similar to this, when a cat meets someone new and they smell the scent of another animal or they simply just do not know them, they may hiss. This is a hiss of wanting to create a distance between them self and the unknown person. Another way of saying, “back off!”
Pain in humans and in animals causes certain sounds to escape. It’s a way of communicating that something hurts. Cats will often hiss if they are being touched somewhere where they hurt, or may even hiss at a veterinarian when he just pokes and prods the cat. They don’t like it; it’s uncomfortable and it can cause pain, so they hiss.
A feline non-recognition aggression hiss
This is a hiss that typically happens when you have multiple cats. Say, one cat goes to the groomer or vet and when she returns, she smells like the clinic, which is a smell that cats do not like or appreciate. When the female cat who stayed home sniffs the other and recognizes the scent, she will not greet her friend with pleasure, but instead, will give off a nasty hiss and will not buddy up with her until the scent fades and she smells like the family again. Picky, picky.
The playful hiss
This is typically a much shorter hiss than the hiss made out of defensive modes. It’s mostly heard more out of kittens as they are learning to play, and when they hear a loud, startling noise, they can jump straight in the air and give a hiss out of purely being startled. They’re fur will typically stand straight up, too.
What do you do if your cat hisses at you?
You will want to keep in mind that a hiss is a sign of warning, so take heed. Your cat, for what ever reason, is feeling scared, nervous or vulnerable, and maybe in pain. You should assess the situation and see what is happening around him that might have startled him, or is there someone new in his area? If you think he may be injured, to get him to relax with calming words until he calms enough to let you hold him and take a look at his body for any sign of injury. If he runs off during the hiss, don’t chase him. Give him some space to get his composure before approaching him again. If there are children around, keep the cat separated from the kids, because if it escalates, the cat can take it to another level and begin to bite.
If your cat happens to have an injury or is showing signs of being sick, unfortunately you will have to try to handle him to get him in his crate and to the doctor to be checked. You may want to wrap a soft towel around him to keep him, and you safe from any injury on either part.
Always remember that a cat’s hiss is a sign of something emotional in the cat’s mind and you need to respect the cat’s boundaries and not force your way closer to the cat and antagonize it. This can be emotionally damaging to the cat and create more fear.