Tips for A Cat that Feels Threatened
25 September, 2012

A friend of mine has a cat named Oscar and was worried about her beloved feline because he started hissing suddenly and she could not figure out why.  As it turned out, there was a stray cat outside her door and Oscar was scared.  She never did see the stray cat again, but I felt there was a need to explain this behavior.  

Below are some reasons a cat might hiss.

Cats hiss and growl when they feel threatened.

Cats hiss and growl when they’re either feeling disturbed or threatened by something. It’s a type of verbal warning that your cat emits before he or she takes further action. While it may appear that your cat has no reason to hiss and growl, most cats only do so when there is a problem. So while you might wonder what’s wrong or search for the source of a problem, it’s important to know that these actions could be provoked by a variety of things and aren’t necessarily directed at you.

Outside Distractions

If your cat is hissing and growling, but appears to be staring off into space, check to see if he or she might be looking out a window at something outside.  Often it is something like a bird, squirrel or even as my friend encountered a stray cat that either interests or scares the cat.

Your Cat is Upset

Cats aren’t typically perceived as social animals, at least to the extent that dogs are. But cats need love too. One reason why a cat might hiss or growl is because it’s upset with his or her owner. This could happen after a pet owner returns from vacation, for example, and the cat is angry that he or she has been left alone in the house. Hissing and growling could be the cat’s way of voicing its displeasure. But, in a little time and with a lot of love, your cat will come around.

Reaction to Pain

If your cat hisses or growls when you pick him or her up or pet him, this is a sign that your cat could be in pain.  Your cat might even hiss or growl when you approach him or her in anticipation of being handled. If this is the case, take your cat to your veterinarian immediately to find out if there is a physical condition that is causing your cat to lash out.

Other Cats

If you’ve just adopted a new cat, any existing cats might not be happy about it (at least at first). Hissing and growling is a way for the existing cat to show the newcomer exactly who is boss. This may escalate beyond hissing and growling into cat fights, until boundaries are established. But, just give them time to duke it out and settle the score on their own terms.  And, they usually will.

How to Handle a Cat that is hissing

If your cat is hissing, he or she is usually just scared.  If your cat is in this mode, try to find out why your cat is hissing.  But, make sure to leave your cat alone and don’t approach him or her.  Also, try to speak to your cat in a soft, sweet voice.  Once your cat has stopped hissing, you can approach your feline friend and use the above tips to find out the “why”.

For most cats, the threat is temporary and they will come around once the distraction or situation changes back to the norm.  I hope the above helps and your cat is back to his or her normal self soon.

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