Every cat owner has experienced a hissing cat at some point, and it can be unnerving, to say the least! Most owners accept this behavior as aggression or annoyance, but there are actually more reasons for cats hissing than you may think. Cats will certainly hiss at each other when they are annoyed or when there is a strange cat around, but it’s important to understand a few of the other reasons behind your cat’s hissing too.
If you’d like to know more about why cats hiss and what you can do to stop it, read on!
1. As a warning
The most common reason that cats hiss is when they feel threatened by another cat or animal, and they will hiss as a warning to keep away. Hissing is a way to warn the threat to not come any closer or else be attacked. Cats are not inherently aggressive creatures and tend to avoid conflict rather than seek it out, and this is their way of doing just that. This is especially apparent with two unneutered males when there is a female around or a male is in another’s territory. Cats will do this as a warning to the other cat to stay away and to display their sharp canines.
There is unfortunately no easy way to stop this other than keep your cat away from potential threats. Keeping your cat exclusively indoors is a good idea if other cats are roaming the neighborhood, or keep them away from other pets as much as possible. These territorial displays frequently lead to fights, so avoidance is the best course of action. Neutering your male will also help reduce territorial behavior.
Cats like routine and prefer their home to be free from too much noise and activity. A stressed cat is an unhappy cat, and any stressful situation can quickly lead to them hissing at each other from annoyance. This could be anything from a new face in the home to bringing new pets home, relocation, or even loud noises — it depends on your individual cat. They will frequently hiss at each other when they feel stressed out.
Try to pinpoint what is causing stress in your feline, as this is the first step in stopping them from hissing. It could be as simple as loud noises — which are typically easy to fix — or more of a complex situation, like moving to a new home. The best method is to try to mitigate any stress as much as possible, and the solution to this will depend on your cat. Make introductions to new pets and other cats slowly, or if your cat is startled by too much activity or loud noises, try to keep these to a minimum.
If your cat hisses when you pick them up, seemingly out of nowhere, they may be injured. Cats will often hiss if you (or another cat) touch them in a sensitive or injured part of their body as their way of indicating that they are in pain. Some cats will even hiss if you simply come close to them when they are injured to avoid being picked up. Similarly, cats will hiss at one another if they are in pain because they feel highly vulnerable if they are injured. If your cat is hissing suddenly when you pick them up or even before you do or they are hissing at cats that are usually their friends, it’s best to take them to a vet for a checkup.
Cats can be temperamental at the best of times, and as all cat owners know, some cats simply want their own space and will come to you only when they feel like it. This is quite common with older cats around children, as young kids can sometimes be too much for senior cats, and the same goes for older cats and young, playful kittens. Cats will hiss to show that they’re annoyed and are not in the mood to be picked up or played with. When this happens, it’s best to just give them their space and keep any younger cats or kittens far away.
5. Territorial disputes
Any change in territory can cause confusion and thus, defensive behavior in cats and may cause them to hiss at you and each other. Even seemingly simple changes, like rearranged furniture or litter boxes, may stress your cats and cause hissing. Changes in your cat’s social group can cause hissing too, such as the departure or addition of new members or one of your cats reaching sexual maturity and attempting dominance, which can lead to a territorial face-off.
Try to make sure that your cats have enough of their own space in the home to avoid territorial disputes and that there are enough litter boxes, toys, and cat trees to go around. You may even consider an electronic cat door that is able to keep some cats in or out of the home, to keep them separated.
Cats hiss at each other for several reasons, though warning over territorial disputes is the most common reason. Cats enjoy their own space, and any small change to their area or routine can cause them stress, which can lead to aggression. In this case, it’s best to fix it as soon as possible before there is a catfight on your hands!
Featured Image Credit: Astrid Gast, Shutterstock