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Why Do Cats Hiss?

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16 Answers

E Jacobson Profile
E Jacobson answered
Cats will hiss (it is generally thought) for one of two reasons, either they feel threatened or they are feeling aggressive or it may be a combination of the two.

Often hissing will simply be a way of telling another cat or human etc that the cat is present and is not going to be pushed around.  It will often hiss to just register its status and thus try to deter any further activity or aggression from the human or cat to whom the hiss has been directed.

If a cat does hiss at you it is important to avert your gaze from it.  If you continue to stare or look at it then it will interpret this as a sign of aggression and continue to hiss and this may escalate into a fully fledged 'cat attack'.  

By looking away you are acknowledging that it has signalled either fear or anger and you are sending it a message that you do not mean any aggression towards it, so hopefully it should stop hissing.
thanked the writer.
Barbara Tschudy
Barbara Tschudy commented
Hi Hedgehog,
I think you wrote a tremendous answer! I agree with all of what you said. I heard that cats will hiss because some kind of dormant instinctual part of the cats' DNA sounds like the hiss of a snake. What could be more threatening? Your answer is excellent, thanks!
Barb
Patricia Devereux Profile
According to animal behaviourist Desmond Morris, a cat's hiss is protective mimicry of the one thing of which all species instinctively fear snakes. The cats hisses and lashes its tail to appear like a venomous snake.
When confronted with a hissing snake, predators often pause long enough to let the snake escape. If a cornered cat can elicits the same response, it increases its chances of survival.
Cats also spit, another way in which threatened snakes react. In addition, Morris believes the flattened ears and gaping jaw of a hissing cat make it s head look serpentine. Tail thrashing imitates a snake working itself up to strike or flee.
The original prototype of domestic cats had striped, tabby colouration. A sleeping tabby, curled up tightly, bears a strong resemblance to a coiled snake. A flying predator such as an eagle might think the cat was a snake and thus not attack.
thanked the writer.
Barbara Tschudy
Barbara Tschudy commented
Wow Chispa!
Sorry, but I should have scrolled down more! I then would've seen your answer, and would never have written what I wrote about the hissing/ correlation with a snake.
Sorry. Your answer is top-notch, and I apologize "repeating" what you already stated so well in your answer. Have a great day!
Barb
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
They want to be left alone
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Cat's hiss when they're either really angry at a human or another animal. They could also hiss if they feel threatened by a human or another animal. Hissing is their way of showing their anger or their fright. Also, when cats are angry, their fur stands up. This happens normally in the tail but if they are really scared/angry they will arch their backs and all of their fur will stand up.   Further, this action is a "defensive" mechanism, intended to both warn another animal or human, and hopefully discourage them from further threatening, or harming the cat.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
The cat is mean.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
About the hissing stray cat: Better to chase it away if it frightens you.  After all, you're bigger than it is.  Cats will bluff much more than, say, an aggressive dog. Just heed its warning, back up and stay away.  Perhaps, if your wife would like to continue to feed it, she could place the food a distance from your porch?  It doesn't deserve to die when it's just being a cat, albeit a ferrel one.
Jasvir sangha Profile
Jasvir sangha answered
Live in inner city area a White cat came to my house and mowed and we took it in sometimes when you stroke it it becomes a little violent and scratches us with it's claws why is it doing this, could this be the reason why who ever owned it got rid of it I also have an autistic kid so is it dangerous to give this cat a home incase it attacts my child
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
They hiss when they are frightened. And like, rattle snakes, they think it scares off predators.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Its because they get really angry... Or they are just giving you a sign to stay away
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Don't no why but we have a stray cat my wife started feeding, now its on the porch and when you get close it hisses real bad, we try to look away and not pay it much attention, but I'm afraid it is going to attack her. This cat is large male no tail goldish brown  and very large 25 to 30 pounds thick fur, when I get home from working out of town, I may have to put it down... We live in the woods and think it's been living out here for a while now.. Animal shelter and pound will not come out..

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