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Why Do Cats Hiss?

family-footerYour cat may be a gentle feline under most circumstances, but if he has a reason to be afraid, angry, or dominant, his demeanor suddenly changes. His ears flatten, back arches, and tail puffs up. Most likely of all, he hisses. Learn where this behavior originates and what triggers feline hissing.

Where Does the Hiss Originate?

Every creature from humans to horses knows to beware the sound of a hissing snake. This is where some feline behavior experts believe cats originally picked up hissing. After all, mimicking the actions of another species is a survival tactic for some animals, including cats. Today, hissing is an instinctive feline behavior that signals a cat’s negative emotions and offers a warning to stay away.

Reasons Why Cats Hiss

  • Fear: Your cat might be fearful of his new surroundings if you just adopted him. Even a cat you’ve had for a long time may feel threatened by the new vacuum cleaner. Whatever the case, be sure your cat has a few hiding places to retreat to until he feels safe enough to come out.
  • Anger: Even the gentlest cat may hiss if you make him do something he doesn’t want to do, such as get into his carrier or move from his favorite spot on the couch. Keeping your cool conveys that there’s nothing to worry about, which may help your cat calm down.
  • Dominance: The introduction of a new animal to the home, or even seeing another cat outside, can trigger a dominance display. Unneutered male cats on the verge of a fight hiss loudly at each other to convey their authority and displeasure at one another’s presence.
  • Anxiety: When a cat is stressed or anxious, everything that approaches him may trigger an aggressive response. This is common in cats that bounce around from foster home to foster home. Pheromone spray can be a very effective mood enhancer to help your stressed out cat relax.
  • Pain: If there doesn’t seem to be an obvious trigger for your cat’s frequent hissing, he could be in pain from a chronic illness or acute injury. If your kitty hisses when you run your hands down his body, seek help from a vet right away.

How to Calm the Hissy Fit

The best way to handle a hissing cat is not to scold or stare down your cat, but rather to give him space and let him calm down. If a new animal in your home has triggered the behavior, keep them safely apart and carefully supervise interactions when the time comes.

If an unfamiliar guest has triggered the hissing, allow your cat to sniff the person’s shoes so he can explore the new scent safely. Give your cat a little time—eventually, he should grow accustomed to visitors and may even start hanging out with the group.

Get More Cat Care Tips at Germantown Vet

If your cat’s hissing is a real problem, consider contacting Germantown Vet Clinic in Montgomery County for bad behavior tips. We can also help with any underlying medical conditions that could be causing your cat pain. With the right treatment and the proper diet, you may find that your cat’s behavior improves dramatically.

For personalized cat care advice from our experienced veterinary staff, please call Germantown Vet Clinic at (240) 252-7467 today!

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