Why do Cats Hiss (Natural Behavior or Something Else?)

As soon as you start wondering why do cats hiss, you probably start thinking about their way of communication in general. Hissing, purring, meowing, etc. is both cute and funny to humans.

Still, if you’re wondering are those the ways that your cat is expressing its feelings, the answer is positive.

That’s why it can be very useful to manage to recognize the type of emotion that your pet is trying to express. Why?

Because, in this way, you can more or less know when your cat is in pain and requires medical help. 

Is cat hissing always bad? Well, more often than not, yes, because hissing is a sort of warning and it can be followed by an attack.

Cats actually avoid physical confrontation, and that’s why they use hissing and threatening attitude to warn the “opponent”.

As soon as you notice your cat hissing at you, other cats, or objects, make sure not to ignore it.

Pay attention to its behavior and whether or not the hissing continues so that you can react accordingly. 

How do cats make hissing sounds?

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Before talking about reasons that are behind cats hissing, let’s explain a bit how they even produce that sound.

This snake-like sound is the product of the air that’s forced through the arched tongue and mouth. 

Other than the hissing, you’ll also notice your cat’s entire posture change. So, each time you hear that sound, you’ll also see your cat’s ears become flat against its head.

Also, your pet’s entire body will be tense and in anticipation of the danger, ready to fight back if necessary.

From flat ears to piloerection on the fur, this body language is the only way that animals can communicate.

That’s why you should monitor its behavior so that you can know when your cat is feeling angry, in pain, stressed, etc.

Why do cats hiss

As said, cats who hiss at you or any other person, animal or object around them shouldn’t be underestimated.

It’s their way of expressing their feelings and mood.

Of course, as with any animal behavior, there’s always more than one reason behind it. Some of those reasons will also be followed by other behavioral changes.

If hissing is frequently repeating, make sure to take your pet to the vet, and have the right diagnosis. 

Here are some of the most frequent causes of cats hissing:

  • To warn (you)

Cats very rarely indulge in behaviors that suggest physical conflict. Our pet felines actually do everything they can to avoid it.

That’s why cats use hissing sounds to warn the “opponent” or “threat” to back off.

Otherwise, if ignored, cats will have to attack in order to protect themselves, their kittens, or territory.

So, if you notice your cat hissing at you, it is giving you a warning that it is ready to attack if necessary.

Don’t provoke it any further because he/she will try to scratch you.

  • Because they are in pain

Are you noticing your little feline hissing as soon as you pick it up? Is it happening very often lately?

Well, your pet could actually be in pain, and your touch could be making the pain even worse.

This probably means that your cat has some physical/health problems that require medical help.

Take it to the vet as soon as you notice this change.

Also, other strange behavior may be following the hissing, such as loss of appetite, vomiting, isolation, etc.

  • They are stressed

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Stress and anxiety are very often the causes of numerous changes in cats’ behavior, hissing included.

If your pet’s environment is full of stressors that irritate it, your cat will be on edge and hiss often.

Why? Because your cat will also feel threatened by the stressors and will want to run from them.

That’s why he/she will be cautious and under pressure.

  • Due to changes

If you’ve had multiple cats and you’re wondering, “why do cats hiss when I buy new furniture?” the answer is very simple.

Cats aren’t fond of changes. That’s why the majority of them can be uncomfortable with anything new in their surroundings.

Of course, a lot of the home cats are used to it, but originally, all cats dislike changes.

If you’re noticing your cat hissing as soon as you buy something new (whether it’s cat toys or furniture) the change is the reason behind it.

  • Because of the rough play (kittens)

Kittens adore playing, and it can be very cute hearing their short hissing. This sound shouldn’t be worrying to you.

It’s just the kittens’ way of saying that the play is too rough and that the other cat should be more careful.

Very often, it will be a one-time sound, and the play will continue without problems.

However, if the other cat is aggressive, you should separate them to protect the kittens.

  • They are afraid or feel threatened 

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Hissing is your cat’s defense mechanism that allows it to warn the person/animal it feels threatened by.

When cats are afraid, they become defensive, and that’s when the hissing starts, together with other aspects of body language.

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, those signs are often flat ears, tense body, and eye contact, etc.

  • Because they are uncomfortable 

Similarly to hissing when in pain, your feline pet will also make this sound if he/she feels uncomfortable.

You may notice it if you pick your cat up in a position that he/she finds very unpleasant.

Also, if you try to pet its belly, and if the cat doesn’t trust you enough, it will hiss and try to escape.

Belly rubs are reserved only to the people cats trust a lot. 

  • To protect 

New mothers are very protective of the children when it comes to basically any specie.

That’s why, if your cat feels that its kittens are in danger, she will hiss and become extremely defensive.

Cat wants to warn that she is ready and will fight back if she feels like her kittens aren’t safe.

This can be the answer to questions like “why do cats hiss when I want to pet the kittens?”

They are simply being protective, as any mother would.

How do I get my cat to stop hissing?

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Here are some of the solutions that can be effective if you notice your cat hissing too often:

  • Take it to the vet

The best thing to do if you notice your cat hissing too often is to take it to the vet.

The professional is the only one who can determine the reason behind the hissing.

This is very important if you suspect that your pet is in pain. As said, you’ll more or less easily notice whether or not the feline is in pain.

Other than hissing whenever you touch the cat, it will also display other changes in its behavior.

This is a sign that the visit to the vet is essential.

  • Stop bugging him/her

Sometimes, cats simply don’t want to be pet. They can be very grumpy if you want to pet them without their permission.

That’s when they will most likely hiss at you to warn you. Also, if you’re bugging them on purpose and doing things that irritate them (belly rubs), the hissing is inevitable.

  • Introduce new things/animals gradually

Since cats don’t really like changes, you should consider introducing new objects to them gradually.

The same goes for new pets or new people who come in contact with the cat.

While some cats are used to meeting new people often, some of them will act defensively.

If you know that your cat will hiss, warn a friend who’s coming over. You can also keep the cat in another room until it gets used to the new visitor.

You may notice your pet hissing even when you purchase new cat toys.

You can try letting the cat sniff around them and get used to their scent. Later, the animal will try to use them and will stop hissing.

The same goes for new furniture, food, etc.

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  • Remove the stressors

Sometimes, there are things that really annoy your cat, and he/she can’t get used to them at all.

In those cases, the best thing to do is to get rid of those stressors if you want to stop the hissing.

It can happen that a certain toy reminds them of a snake or some other animal that represents a threat.

Cats hiss at them because they are afraid. To spare your cat the unnecessary stress, get rid of the things that make him/her hiss too often.

Why do cats hiss and how to stop it – bottom line

As it is the case with practically any strange cat behavior, the reasons why cats hiss can be numerous.

From pain to fear, your cat will almost never hiss without a proper cause.

Whichever the reason may be, it’s certain that the feeling your cat has isn’t positive, on the contrary.

This sound is there to warn you that either the animal is ready to attack, or that it feels discomfort that should be resolved.

That’s why you should never ignore the hissing. You should actually make sure to remove the reasons that cause it so that your pet is happy and relaxed.