Why Does This Cranky Cat Keep Hissing at Me?

If something triggers fear in your cat, the response is a change of posture, hissing or both.

There are several reasons for your cat to hiss. By: Melinda Seckington

Cats are one of the most popular pets in the world — and have been for thousands of years. Even so, sometimes they seem like a mystery to us.

A hissing cat is almost always chalked up to aggressive behavior toward a human, an animal or even an object. But that’s not always the case.

Understanding hissing is important. It can be a way for your pet cat to send you a message, and as a pet parent you need to understand what the cat is trying to tell you. Here are some of the reasons your “cranky” cat may be hissing at you.

Warning Hiss

A lot of times, hissing is a way for your cat to warn you that something that has made him unhappy. The reaction is not necessarily aggression but rather could be happening on impulse.

Still, the cat knows he is sending you a warning — so if the hissing continues, the cat may wind up clawing at you, or even fighting.

Pay attention to the behavior that induced the hissing in the first place. You may not realize what you did to upset your normally friendly pet. If the behavior is happening a lot, it is more important to find the root of the problem.


Instead of using hissing as an indicator for aggressive behavior, you may find that your cat is afraid of something. Something as simple as stepping on his tail once may be enough to get the cat to hiss when you are getting too close.

Although most felines will not react like that, some will, especially if they are new to the home.

Your pet does not like to feel threatened in any way, so fear may turn into hissing, which in turn can become aggression. Even an older cat could develop this behavior if something happens to trigger the fear response.

Recent Changes

Part of dealing with the problem of hissing is understanding where it is coming from. Think of any changes that have taken place recently in your home. Perhaps you brought in a new pet, which could have triggered territorial behavior. If that is the case, you may need to reintroduce the new members of the family.

Even something as small as moving furniture around could cause stress. If you cannot find the trigger, it is best to talk with a pet behavior specialist.

Why Do They Hiss?

What you have to understand about cats is that they are never looking for physical confrontation. That is why they rely on hissing or using different body postures.

The arching of the back, for example, makes your pet look bigger than he actually is, so he is using that as a way to send threats away.

Something is triggering the fear in your cat, so the response is either a change of posture, hissing or both.

How to React

It’s imperative that you do not ignore a hissing cat. You should understand what to do when it happens.

First, you can give the cat a way to escape. Do not punish your pet for this behavior, because it may worsen it.

You will also need to give cats extra time to relax and calm down. Before touching your pet again, understand that they need to get used to your scent again so they can feel comfortable.

Finally, use positive reinforcement so they become more comfortable with you at all times.

Jet Perreault

View posts by Jet Perreault
Jet Perreault, a professional dog groomer of 18 years, graduated from Michigan State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She has spent time on the dog show circuit, working groomer trade shows, and managing grooming salons and pet shops.

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