A cat hisses.

Cats make all sorts of unusual sounds, from purrs to ‘clicks’ to long meows. Most pet owners don’t like to hear their cat hiss because they associate it with aggression. But there are good reasons for hissing that benefit our feline companions and warn other pets to back off. Evendale-Blue Ash Pet Hospital is here to explain the hiss, what it means, and how to approach a hissing cat.

Where Did the Hiss Originate?

When you think of a hiss, what animal comes to mind most often? That’s right, our slithery snake friends. Most mammals are all too familiar with the hiss and that it signals danger. Cats are frightened of coming across a venomous reptile, and they learned to associate the sounds snakes make with that of alarm. Many suspect that cats adopted the hissing sound as a way to forewarn other animals, too.

Why Do Domestic Cats Hiss?

Since our cats are not exposed as much to wild places, why would your indoor fluffy friend suddenly hiss? Over time, hissing became an instinct, and another form of communication. It basically tells other animals and people that they have stepped over a line. Just like a growl, it is a warning sign when an animal feels threatened or backed into a corner.

There are few conditions that cause a cat to hiss, which include:

  1. Fear: Cats can be fearful of anything new in the environment. This may include the introduction of a new baby, change of residence, a loud noise, or another animal. Most felines feel less fearful when they can get away quickly and hide somewhere. This is why it is important to give your cat their own cat cubes, a space under the bed, or other places they can relax in privacy.
  2. Anger: When you hear a cat hiss, watch out! They are displeased, to say the least. If a cat is fearful and continues to feel stressed, hissing is a form of aggression and a warning sign against a possible scratch or bite. 
  3. Anxiety: Hissing and other vocalizations are ways to help your cat cope with anxiety. Anxiety is typically seen in cats who have not been socialized or have been moved to one home to another. Help ease your pet’s anxiety through pheromone sprays and consult with us on other treatment options. 
  4. Territory: Cats are territorial creatures and feel safe and secure within these boundaries. However, if any other animal infringes on their turf, it can cause spraying/marking, hissing and growling, and sometimes fighting. If you adopt another pet, it is wise to do the introductions gradually, keeping the cat or other new pet in another area of the home for a week until both pets have had a chance to get used to each other. 
  5. Pain or illness: Many cats will vocalize with yowling, hissing, and even purring when they are in pain. If your cat has been sounding off more than normal, or other signs of pain or discomfort are present, call us. Many symptoms of pain in pets go undetected. Being aware of any changes in your furry friend’s demeanor is important to them getting the help they need.

How to Calm Your Cat

Any time your cat hisses, they are probably in some level of fear or distress. Help diffuse the situation by following some anti-anxiety steps for a more relaxed cat:

  • Give your cat enough space and privacy where they can calm down
  • Don’t stare down or challenge your cat, as they will perceive this as an additional threat
  • Remove the object of their fear, whether it is another animal, the vacuum, or anything else
  • Create a calm environment by turning down the television or radio, using pheromone sprays, and offering your cat a calming treat designed to ease stress

Why Does Your Cat Hiss?

Call us at (513) 563‑0410 for more information on why your cat might be hissing. If it is a new or excessive behavior, we advise you to have your furry friend come in for a wellness examination. We can get to the cause to treat anything that may be off with your special feline. We look forward to seeing you and your pet!