Why do cats hiss?
21 November, 2011

As a cat owner, you will by all means encounter a time when your cat hisses at you or sometimes lets out a low guttural growl.  I know that my Sammy only hisses occasionally, but sometimes he and other cats I have known seem to growl when you least expect it.

Cats hiss and growl when they’re either feeling bothered or threatened by something. It’s a type of verbal warning that the cat gives off before he or she takes further action (and by all means, listen!). While it may appear that cats are hissing at nothing, cats only do this when they feel 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 that are not usually directed at you.


Cats aren’t typically known as social animals, at least to the extent that dogs are. But cats need love too. One reason a cat might hiss or growl is because it’s upset with its owner. This could happen after the owner returns from vacation and the cat is angry that it has been left alone in the house (except from whoever has come to your place to feed your feline friend).  Your cat’s hissing could be his or her way of voicing its displeasure.   Just give your cat a little time and he will eventually come around and behave normally.

Sometimes a cat will growl or ‘meow’ more when he or she loses another feline friend.  This is very normal and it is a sound of them grieving (and, of course, this breaks our hearts)!

I’m upset!


If your cat is hissing while appearing to be staring off into space, check to see if he or she might be looking out the window at something outside. Often your cat will have his or her eyes locked on birds, squirrels or some other object that’s moving around your yard that either interests or scares the cat. Birds are a common cat prey (even if they are only an indoor cat).


If your cat hisses or growls when you pick him or her up or pet him, it could be a sign that the he is in pain.  This pain-induced aggression can occur if the cat has been injured or suffers from arthritis, dental pain or another serious disease. The cat may even hiss or growl when you approach it, in anticipation of being handled. If this is the case, take your cat to your veterinarian to find out if there is a physical condition causing your cat to lash out.


If you’ve just brought a new cat into your home, some of the other cats might not be that happy about it.  Hissing is a way for the other cat to show the newcomer exactly who is boss. This may escalate beyond hissing and growling into cat fights, until boundaries are established. However, this hissing and growling can also be directed toward cats in less obvious situations. For example, if your cat senses a stray cat wandering outside nearby, it may react similarly. My Sammy sometimes growls at other cats outside the window to say ‘hello’.

I hope these tips help and remember that the hissing and/or growling is a way that your cat communicates. Create a Pet Profile today!

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