Dictionaries define hissing as used often by reptiles and mammals like the cat, to express their disapproval. Like their human counterparts, cats feel the need to set boundaries especially if there are unknown objects, people or other animals that are making them feel uncomfortable. It’s a sign for anyone who goes into their territory that somebody already owns the place.
For cats to make a hissing sound, it pushes a burst of air by arching their tongue while pulling back their lips, baring their teeth and flattening their ears against the head. You’d also see their hair standing on end as if they’re making themselves bigger than their opponents.
Why Do Cats Hiss?
Anything that your cat is unfamiliar with will always make it uneasy; even you. As a cat’s hissing is similar to a snake’s vocalizations, there are studies that talk about cats mimicking the said vocalizations to let others know that they might be angry and that any intruder should stay away.
It’s like your feline is warning others that they did something wrong, that your cat is probably frightened of them, and that they should back off immediately or it will retaliate.
Your pet’s hissing is also setting limits on anything that it is afraid of, making it confused or unhappy. It might also be a signal to you that you might have surprised or startled your feline. Your cat’s hissing also means that its adrenaline is flowing and that it will be working on pure instinct at this point and is ready to defend itself at all costs.
When you see signs of stress in your pet cat, it’s a subtle way of telling you to stop what you’re doing or put back whatever you have moved from its original place. When you see these signs, expect your cat to hiss next if you don’t do something about it.
- Scratching where it shouldn’t
You might have designated places where your cat can scratch, but if it suddenly chooses a different place to do so, be vigilant and check if there’s anything that is making your feline agitated.
- Spraying urine out of the blue
Cats normally pee by squatting in the litter box. But when you see them back up to a vertical surface and their tails are erect while doing so, they are marking or spraying their territory. This usually happens when they are agitated as well.
- Urinates outside the litter box
When your cat suddenly pees outside the designated area, then there’s something wrong. You have to check if the litter box needs cleaning or something is irritating your pet.
- Issues with feeding
If your pet cat hasn’t given you any problems during feeding time before and then suddenly, does something out of the ordinary, check if something has happened with your pet.
Common Causes of Stress
- Always put to heart that your cat or any other cats for that matter, love consistency. Any changes, no matter how small, will always put your cat out of ease.
- If you have more than one pet, it will certainly be a reason for any new ones to feel agitated. Always take precautions when introducing anything or anyone for the first time; be it a new pet or a new person in the house.
- When you need to move houses or travel somewhere that you can’t bring your pet, it will open up your feline to a barrage of new smells and noises that could irritate them.
If you could bring your cat, remember that it is not as fond of car rides as dogs. Especially if it’s not comfortable in a carrier, you might just see yourself getting scratched.
The key here is knowing what to do to prepare your cat for any changes to save both you and your cat from any untoward incidents or situations.
The Subtle Meanings of A Cat’s Hiss
- I’m hurt, don’t touch me!
Ask yourself, why did my cat start hissing? As we’ve stated before, the immediate notion is to check if there is something in its immediate vicinity that is making it feel vulnerable, frightened or pained.
Let your cat adjust to your presence by giving it time to calm down before even trying to go near it if you see that there isn’t anything near it that is making it uncomfortable. Your cat might feel something wrong in its body or it hurt itself.
Its hissing will obviously indicate that you should back off. But if you think that it really needs your help, just make sure you’re protected from bites and scratches before touching it.
- I don’t want to play with you anymore.
If it’s playtime for you and your cat and it suddenly hisses; it might be good to back off. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you might have hurt it. You might just have annoyed it or it already sent subtle signs that you needed to stop but you didn’t.
Remember to not punish your pet when it hisses when you don’t have any idea why it does.
- OMG! That wasn’t there before!
Who haven’t seen those cucumber videos? They’re funny to watch; but think what the cats are feeling when they’re in that situation.
Cats are almost the same as lions but they are not entirely the same. Cats are considered mesopredators which means they’re not on top of the food chain. It’s like a license for them to be afraid of any new changes in their surroundings – and we mean anything.
- You smell weird boss.
Asides from urinating to mark their territory, cats often rub against you to let other cats know that they own you. If you let another cat rub against you and your own feline smells it, it will certainly feel unsettled. It will either remark its territory or immediately hiss at you if you have a cat whose breed is normally territorial.
How To Handle Cats When They Hiss
- Anticipate what will happen next
So your cat hissed. After visually checking your pet, you determined that your pet cat is physically okay. You checked its surroundings and there’s nothing that might make it feel angry. It’s time to find out what your cat will do if it continues to hiss and you still can’t determine what made it distressed.
Will it run away or fight back? Will it try to vocalize its feelings to you? Whatever the case may be, provide a way for it to escape, but make sure where it’ll turn so you won’t be looking for it after.
Don’t forget to use positive actions to help it get comfortable. Talk to it with a soothing voice and allow an ample distance between you and your feline.
- Try to remember any new changes in the surroundings
Try to look at the bigger picture. Yes, you didn’t get new furniture but you changed where your cat’s favorite sofa was placed. You didn’t have new people in the house but your mother suddenly changed where she usually sits.
Remove anything that you think is irritating your pet or put it back where it came from. If you can’t, there are specially formulated liquids or sprays that you can buy from nearby pet stores that can help.
Allow for adequate hiding places for your cat when it feels agitated but be aware where it might run to. Never force your cat to accept any new changes as safe. This won’t help anyone, especially you. Your pet cat always needs time to adjust.
- Try going to the vet
If you’re finally sure that you have not changed anything in your life and in your cat’s surroundings, be it new furniture, animals or people, try going to the vet. There might just be something wrong with your cat’s health that you can’t see when you try to examine it.
Also, check with your vet if there is a need to neuter your pet to lessen its aggression.
If you commit all of these to heart, they will help you get a step closer to having a better relationship with your pet cat. These things also allow you to understand cats better and to avoid what may make them uncomfortable; or if a need arises, be prepared for it.