Cat Hissing: Getting To The Source Of This Behavior

Does your cat hiss at you?  How often does he speak his mind and enjoy the results?  Is this confusing at times? I mean, after all, isn’t your cat the most affectionate and sweetest little thing around? Why would he hiss at you all of sudden, for no apparent reason?  The experts at offer a few insights into cat hissing:

cat hissing

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The Fear Factor

If your cat is recently rescued, he may hiss at you out of fear or anxiety. Strive to maintain a calm, stable and predictable environment.  Make sure your cat has plenty of hiding places and perches.  Provide safe and comfortable places to relax. Cats often take three weeks or longer to settle into a new home, so patience is needed.

The Theory of Displaced Aggression

If your cat has a source of aggression but no outlet to attack that source, he may go for the most convenient target: YOU! To dissuade the behavior, initiate play with your cat.  Move a toy wand in a playful way to get his attention.  Throw a small toy down the hall.  Offer plenty of ways to mitigate that aggression through scratching posts, boxes to explore and lots of toys!

The Stubborn Streak

Some cats may hiss because they just don’t want to do what is asked of them.  Time to get in the carrier! Not a chance, sister! Get off the furniture! You talking to me? 

When this attitude rears its ugly head, remain calm, cool and collected, letting the cat know it’s no problem.  Stay on course.  Acclimate your cat to what you want him to do. If you need him to travel in a carrier, put the carrier out a few days in advance of your anticipated travels.  Leave the door open and allow him to explore it and leave his scent in it.  Aim for a few trips around the block in it, followed by a reward, such as a treat or more play time with you!

Stranger Danger

Even though your favorite aunt is coming over, that aunt may not necessarily be on your cat’s Top Ten list of favorite people. He may simply see her as an intruder in his territory.

In order to combat this possible scenario, inform your guest about this possibility before he or she arrives. Tell them to keep their distance from your cat if your cat is acting aggressively in his or her presence. Advise the person to avoid eye contact with your cat and to simply act in a casual, nonchalant manner.  In other words, have the guest all but ignore your cat unless and until your cat comes over to investigate and sniff around this person. Let your cat set the pace.

Side Note

If cat hissing is a new behavior or becomes frequent and you cannot determine the cause, schedule a conversation/visit with your veterinarian to rule out a physical issue, injury or even an emotional problem.

Written by Ann Butenas

Ann Butenas

An internationally-recognized author and writer, Ann began her professional writing career at age 12 and began speaking while in college. She has been published thousands of times over the past three decades in all media forms, was former editor and publisher of KC Metro Woman magazine, and has also hosted three talk radio shows in the Kansas City area.