Have you noticed how a cat’s hiss sounds very similar to that of a snake? That is intentional, it is hard-wired in almost all creatures to recognise the hiss of a snake as a warning sign. A cat hissing is a form of protective mimicry, a defensive tactic.
Therefore it is in the cat’s best interest to give the impression that it too could possibly be venomous.
A hiss is a warning back off and most of the time, hissing is accompanied by other body languages. The ears are back, hackles raised, the cat is either be crouched down, as if backed into a corner or standing tall, back arched. He is feeling angry, afraid, hurt but is in fight mode if you cross that boundary any further.
Spitting is another word to describe hissing.
When do cats hiss?
There are two main reasons why a cat will hiss. Fear and/or anger.
When approached by a stranger
When at the vet
When approached by another cat, or dog
Your cat may even hiss at you if he is in pain and you go near him
A hissing cat is warning you to back off. We have already covered injuries caused by cat bites and scratches. It is vital that we read their body language and signals that they are giving off. A hissing cat is telling you to back off, even if it is your own cat, who knows and loves you, he’s warning you.
What to do if a cat hisses at you:
Heed his warnings and back off. If he’s your cat, give him some space and then try again once he has calmed down. If you have a cat who suddenly starts to hiss for no apparent reason, he should be see a veterinarian as there may be an underlying medical reason, such as pain. It is important to investigate any change in behaviour.