Why Do Cats Hiss?
It is a common misconception that cats hiss to be aggressive or confrontational when the exact opposite is often true. When it comes to cat behavior, the cat that hisses is often antagonized by another cat.
Cats often hiss when they are feeling threatened by someone or if something has changed in their environment. They may also hiss if they are being picked up or mishandled and in pain. Hissing is your cat’s way of letting you know that they are in discomfort.
A female cat with kittens may hiss, bite, or growl at someone who comes too close to her kittens. If you choose to realize why your cat is having a “hissy fit,” peruse this article.
5 Reasons Why Cats Hiss
A cat hiss is a low-intensity but distinct sound that cats make in certain situations. Cats will do this with their mouth open and sometimes show their teeth. It often sounds like a snake is creating the noise. When cats hiss, they may also change their body posture. The ears become flat, their back arches, and they look startled. There are some ordinary explanations for why your cat may be hissing.
1) They Feel Endangered
Cats often hiss at humans or other animals when they are feeling threatened. It could be that they are not cool with how they are being handled and are trying to let you or another human know this. Cats can be intimidating to another cat if they believe the other cat is infringing on their territory. Kittens tend to do this a lot.
Hissing is a distance-increasing behavior. Some of the reasons cats hiss at other cats are:
- To caution the other cat to back off
- To point out that they are stressed
- Because of changes in the cat’s social group
- Because they are irritated and do not intend to play
Cats sometimes hiss in certain situations where they feel threatened, like being put in a carrier to get ready to go to the vet. Cats sometimes hiss when they are in situations they do not want to be in, and they are not fearful of letting you know it!
2) They Are Afraid of the Unfamiliar
Some cats hiss because they fear new or unfamiliar situations, especially when something abruptly changes in their home. This could mean anything from the introduction of a new pet or loss of a pet in the home, to a new furniture arrangement in the house. A new pet can make them throw a hissing fit, as strange animals in the home can trigger them.
If there are any recent modifications in your home, you should try slowly acclimating your cat to the new circumstances that are occurring. You should do it gradually instead of all at once. Provide your feline companion with positive reinforcements that make them feel secure.
Give them treats and affection when needed to let them know they are safe. Introduce the change without making your cat feel threatened or vulnerable. This process allows them to begin to feel familiar with it in a way that becomes normal to them. With time, the hissing should decrease.
3) They Are Stressed
Cats and stress do not mix well. If your cat is hissing, it may be due to something stressing them out. Felines do not like to be alarmed, and they do not like loud disturbances. When it comes to your cat being stressed, there are a plethora of scenarios that are possible:
- People setting off fireworks
- Thunder and lightning
- People yelling or fighting
- Loud noises like a lawnmower
If cats are stressed due to any of the above noises, they may react defensively by hissing. When cats are stressed out from noises or loud sounds, they can become quite frightened. You can help them by reassuring them with a gentle voice and some affection if your cat permits them.
4) They Are in Pain
Cats who are in pain will sometimes display uncharacteristic aggression. They may hiss or growl if you touch them in a sensitive or delicate area. Sometimes when a feline is in pain, they may have a long, deep meow. Hunched posture or unusual hiding is another common indication that a cat may be in pain.
Cats may also hiss at each other when they are in pain. If your cat hisses when you try to pick them up, or if they are hissing at other cats in the home, you should take them to the vet, as they may be suffering from an injury or experiencing general pain.
5) You Are Coming Too Close to Her Kittens
Cats, like humans, are very protective of their babies. Momma cat may not like it when someone gets too close to her babies. She may perceive you or another human or animal as being a threat to her little ones, which can prompt her to hiss or demonstrate hostility toward them. Her hormones may cause her to develop a protective instinct toward her kittens.
What Can I Do to Help My Hissing Cat? 5 Products to Help Your Cat Stop Hissing
There may be specific products that can help your cat calm down if they are regular hissers. You can try them in combination with behavioral therapy if you think it could benefit your cat. Some of the various products include:
1) Comfort Zone Multiple Cat Calming Diffuser for Felines
Cats who have a habit of hissing at their brothers and sisters may benefit from the Comfort Zone Multi-Cat Calming Diffuser. Some of the advantages of this product are:
- It will not harm other pets in the home
- It may help decrease urine marking
- It may help curb destructive scratching
- It creates a calming environment for cats
The vapor in this product simulates the natural soothing pheromones of felines to help them feel comfortable and safe. It may limit confrontations or aggressive behavior between cats.
2) Thundershirt for Felines
A great way to help your cat with their hissing is to purchase them a Thundershirt. Whether your cat hisses due to stress, feels threatened, or is scared of loud noises, a Thundershirt:
- May help prevent marking and scratching
- Is made of soft, washable fabric
- Is safe for connecting a leash for travel
- Includes a removable collar
The Thundershirt is a vest-like wrap that puts gentle pressure on your cat’s chest and back, which helps release endorphins that can calm them.
3) Great Pet Great Calm Relaxation & Calming Chews
Your cat will love these purrfectly made calming chews. They are made from chicken and contain relaxing ingredients such as chamomile and melatonin. These relaxation and calming chews:
- Help with pain and joint inflammation
- Ease separation anxiety and apprehension
- Make car rides easier and tolerable
- Promote restful sleep and calming behavior
These special treats also contain ginger root for a tender tummy. The chews also have hemp protein powder, which can be supportive of the cat’s brain, eyes, nervous system, and skin and coat health.
4) Trixie Activity Fun Board
This fun food puzzle can be the key to keeping your feline companion’s mind occupied, as hissing may be a sign of boredom or inactivity. This activity board can help your cat:
- Eat at a healthier pace
- Keep them engaged
- Provide entertainment
- Encourage safe play
Puzzle games and treat dispenser toys can help your cat act out their natural instincts like hunting. You can even make use of it as an excuse to play and bond with them, while giving your cat a reason not to hiss.
5) Pet Hemp Oil
- Decreases anxiety and nervousness
- Helps promote healthy skin and coat
- Alleviates joint pain and inflammation
- Helps improve digestive issues
The most remarkable thing about using hemp oil for pets is its safety. It can help your cat calm down if they are hissing, scratching, or meowing excessively.
Hissing is often a natural reaction for cats that are in unfamiliar situations or may feel like they are in danger. If your cat is hissing excessively and frequently, you should take them to the vet to ensure they are not sick or in pain.
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Cornerstone Veterinary Hospital of Clifton Park was founded in 1989 as Animal Care Hospital of Clifton Park. We began with 10 employees, 4 of whom are still working with us today. The name “Cornerstone” has special meaning to Dr. Knott and his family, both because it symbolizes their commitment to “faith, family, and then everything else,” and because it promotes the animal hospital as a cornerstone of the Clifton Park community.