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Why is My Cat Hissing at Me Suddenly? 5 Reasons to Explain This Behaviour

Sarah Psaradelis

By Sarah Psaradelis

a tabby mackerel cat hissing

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It can be strange to notice a change in your cat’s behavior towards you. They may go from an affectionate cat that enjoys your presence to a cat that hisses when you go near them or try to touch them.

Hissing along with a thrashing tail, flattened ears, and dilated pupils indicates that your cat is trying to tell you they are uncomfortable and want to be left alone. While it isn’t uncommon for cats to hiss when they want to be left alone, it can be troubling if your cat hisses at you even if you just walk into the same room as them.

Here are some reasons your cat can suddenly be hissing at you.


The 5 Likely Reasons Your Cat is Hissing at You All of a Sudden

1. Redirected Aggression

cat hissing
Photo Credit: yvonneschmu, Pixabay

Cats are not known to be aggressive pets but redirected aggression can happen if your cat is upset that they cannot get to something or respond to it directly. This can happen when your cat becomes angry and hisses at you for something that is not your fault.

Your cat could be frustrated that they cannot reach the bird they saw through the window, or they got into a fight with another cat and take their frustrations out on you instead. This type of aggression is short-lived, and it should pass once they get out of their mood.

2. Territorial Behavior

Abyssinian cat hisses
Image Credit: Slava Dumchev, Shutterstock

Cats are territorial and can try to defend their space. If they feel that you are invading their space while they are resting, they will hiss to indicate that they want to be left alone. This behavior is more common in male cats; however, it can happen to female cats too. Cats will hiss at intruding cats that come into their territory or invade their personal space, as it is just a warning to leave them alone as they do not want to be touched or interact with you right now.

Neighborhood cats, new household pets, and even unfamiliar people can cause your cat to feel irritated that they have to share their space and territory, which can cause them to hiss at guests, new pets, and even you.

3. Stress, Anxiety, or Fear

angry cat hissing
Image Credit: Fang_Y_M, Pixabay

A cat suffering from stress, anxiety, or fear is going to be in a bad mood. This means that they will show their emotions by hissing and even appearing scared. This is your cat’s way of protecting themselves and communicating that something has upset them and evoked a negative emotion.

Sudden changes to their environment can also make your cat stressed, which can make them “act out” by hissing. Cats that are stressed or scared will also spend more time hiding, and they may hiss at you if you find their hiding spot because they want to protect themselves in their vulnerable mindset.

4. Your Cat Is in Pain

cat hisses at the hand of woman
Image Credit: Leksi.photo, Shutterstock

If your cat is in pain, it is understandable that they will act differently toward you. Cats cannot talk to us, so it is us for us to understand their body language and vocalizations so we can try and understand how they are feeling. Cats who are in pain will defend themselves because they feel vulnerable and are not in a good mood.

Cats with arthritis or pain when they are touched may also hiss at you because it hurts for them to be interacted with. Other types of body pain and discomfort can also make your cat lash out and hiss because they are not feeling well and need to be taken to a veterinarian.

5. Overstimulation

owner petting a hissing angry tabby cat
Image Credit: Anna Kraynova, Shutterstock

If too much is happening in your cat’s environment, they can begin to feel overstimulated. This can happen if you have lots of guests over or if renovations are happening in the house. Your cat will hiss at you because they are feeling irritated from the commotion in the home. Overstimulation can also happen if your cat is being petted and they suddenly hiss because they do not want to be touched anymore. Your cat will hiss to show they do not want to be petted anymore.


Why Do Cats Hiss?

While hissing usually shows that a cat is being “aggressive”, it is mainly used to communicate that the cat is feeling stressed, fearful, or uncomfortable. They will also hiss at other animals and humans to show their emotions especially if the situation makes them feel threatened.

This is your cat’s way of telling you that they are not happy in a situation or if they want to be left alone. Cats that do not enjoy being petted will hiss to show their discomfort, whereas a cat that is feeling unwell due to an injury or upsetting event will hiss at you because they are trying to express their stress and discomfort.

Aside from hissing, cats will show other signs that they are not happy, such as hiding, changes in behavior, or body language cues that indicate their distress.

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If your cat is suddenly hissing at you, it’s important to find the underlying cause because something could be wrong. If your cat is acting strange and hissing when you approach them, it is best to take them to a veterinarian so that you can rule out any underlying illness that can cause your cat to be acting strange towards you.

A cat that hisses at you doesn’t mean that they hate you, but rather that something is bothering them, and they are putting their defenses up and setting a boundary.

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Featured Image Credit: strh, Pixabay

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