How do cats hiss?

When a cat feels threatened, it instinctively releases a stream of air through its mouth – it is this release that makes a hissing sound. It is usually accompanied by body signs, which can include two types of signals:

Active defense. Arched back, straight paws on tiptoe, raised and fluffy hair (piloerection), tail moving from side to side, ears straight or pressed to the sides of the head. In such a complex of signals, there is a lot of threat and a desire to attack if the opponent does not want to retreat.
Passive defense. Flattened ears, flattened or flattened body, closed eyes, tucked tail, along with hissing, is a signal that if the enemy retreats, then the cat will not fight. This behavior is more fearful than aggressive.

During hissing, a cat can bare its teeth, demonstrating a combat arsenal to an opponent. At this stage, the cat is ready to attack. Spitting can become the peak of hissing – a sign that the cat is excited to the limit and the attack will be cruel.

Why can a cat hiss?

Reason #1. Violation of personal boundaries

Most often, a cat hisses when faced with a threat – a person or animal invades her personal space and scares. Hissing in this case acts as a defensive aggression, a request to retreat.

Cats use such a signal both to warn people (if they do not respect their boundaries, forcefully hold them, stroke them against their will), and for other animals that frighten them, pursue and bully them.

Reason #2. Pain

If a cat is in severe pain, it may begin to hiss even at the owner or animals with which it used to be friends.

Often, with a pain syndrome, cats hiss as if from scratch, at an “invisible enemy”. In this case, it is important to show the pet to a veterinarian who will provide qualified assistance to the animal.

Reason #3. maternal aggression

With the help of hissing, a mother cat can protect kittens from other animals and people. Nothing personal, just an instinct that says to protect offspring from potential offenders.

Reason #4. Unfamiliar smells

Cats live in a world of smells: it is with the help of their nose that they recognize their owners, friendly and unfriendly animals and predators. If your cat hears a foreign scent that she thinks is unsafe, she will hiss at it. So the cat can react to the hands of the owner if he stroked someone else’s animal.

Reason #5. Acute or chronic stress

Sometimes a cat will hiss if he is in a stressful environment. For example, in a veterinary clinic, where all the animals are scared, she can aggressively sound at the veterinarian (even if she is not usually afraid of strangers), as well as at the owner, who wants to calm her down by stroking her.

Under conditions of chronic stress (for example, when there are too many animals in the house), even minor irritants can irritate a cat.

Reason #6. rough games

If you play with a cat in a fight or tease her, then the cat may go into an increased level of emotions and begin to hiss. This is a sign that it’s time to stop, otherwise the game may end in a full-fledged attack from the cat.

It is best to play with a cat not with your hands, but with special toys, so as not to develop aggression towards people in it.

Reason #7. Please don’t get close

When a cat is sitting in a narrow hallway, in a hospital cage, or in a corner from which it is difficult to escape, and a stranger or animal approaches her, she may hiss to ask them not to approach. If this request is ignored, then the cat has only one way out – to attack, since it is difficult to escape in narrow spaces.

What to do?

If your cat consistently hisses at you:

  1. Check her health.
  2. Try to learn your cat’s body language and only interact with her when she’s in the mood to communicate.
  3. Do not play with the cat in a fight with your hands.
  4. Give your cat more personal space: step back, let it walk past you in a narrow hallway, don’t insist on communication, and don’t restrain the cat.
  5. Make sure that the cat has the opportunity to survive stressful situations in shelters on the floor or above the floor.
  6. Organize sunbeds, houses, cat complexes, where the cat will always feel safe.
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