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Why Do Cats Hiss? 5 Reasons for This Behavior

Everyone has heard a cat hiss at least once or twice in their lifetime. Cats are well known for hissing, but it can be confusing as to why a cat might be hissing at any given time. So, why do cats hiss? There are actually a few reasons that you might hear a cat hiss.

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1. A Warning Sign

The most common reason that a cat will hiss is to warn someone or something threatening them. Hissing is the verbal warning that comes before an attack. If you get close to a feral cat in an alley somewhere and they hiss at you as you approach, chances are that they will pounce and claw or bite you if you do not back off. Cats will hiss at people, other animals, and even inanimate objects if they are wary.

a ginger cat hissing
Image Credit: Vicky Somma, Flickr
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2. Stress

Another reason for cat hissing is stress. Many things can make a cat stressed out, such as moving to a new home, learning to live with a new household pet, dealing with rambunctious kids, or getting locked inside or outside of the house. If a cat does not have another way of relieving stress, they will use their hissing skills. They will likely continue hissing intermittently until the source of stress is removed.

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3. Just for Fun

Sometimes, cats will hiss when playtime gets out of hand. They might be chasing a feather toy that they cannot quite catch or be playing with another frisky cat. The hissing is typically sharp and quick, unlike when a cat hisses due to stress or fear. Usually, hissing during play is just for fun. However, if a cat is hissing continuously while playing with another cat, it could be a sign of an impending cat skirmish.

a tabby cat hissing
Image Credit: Kristin Bonkowski, Flickr
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4. Pain

Cats might hiss if they are in pain, especially when someone is trying to touch them where they are hurting. They may also show signs of pain by limping or meowing. Even a small amount of pain can make a cat irritable, just like it would a human. Getting too close or challenging your cat’s mood can just make the situation worse. If pain is suspected, a visit to the veterinarian’s office is in order.

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5. Irritation

Cats can become irritated when they want to be left alone. They may not enjoy kids chasing them around the house if all they want to do is rest. After all, they sleep for 15 hours every day, give or take. They also do not usually like their tails or ears tugged on. Sometimes as their human parents, we can be pushy and try to make our cats sit on our laps or cuddle with us when they do not want to, which can cause hissing.

cat hissing
Image Credit: yvonneschmu, Pixabay

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Overall Thoughts

Most of the time, cats hiss because they are not happy with something going on in their bodies or environments. If your cat seems to hiss too often or when it is not warranted, consider taking them to see a veterinarian for a checkup, just to be sure there are no underlying health issues to worry about. How do you feel about hissing cats? Let us know in the comments section!

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Featured Image Credit: strh, Pixabay