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cat hissing and bite

Feline Behavioral Health: Why Do Cats Hiss and Bite?

Most people think that a cat hisses when she’s about to lash out at them and attack. They think that a cat hissing is a sign of aggression and that violence is about to ensue. This is not always true. A hiss may or may not lead to an attack or a bite. Likewise, all bites are not the same and some are misinterpreted.

Your cat isn’t being malicious every time she bites or nibbles at you. It is just in your cat’s nature to bite or nibble a little. This is simply just a part of their personality and more so in some cats than others.

So, What is Hissing?

cat hissingThe truth is that a cat’s hissing is simply a defensive trait. This is how a cat expresses themselves to other animals as well as their owners. It is the cat going into a defensive mode, meaning that they feel threatened in some way.

Just because your cat hisses doesn’t mean that you have an aggressive cat or that your cat has something wrong with them. In fact, all cats hiss. It is a natural response and a very important survival mechanism. It is how a cat says that they are feeling threatened, provoked or preyed on. Hissing can also be a warning and may happen before your cat will attempt to strike or bite.

Hissing and Other Indicators

When cats are in defense mode, there are also other physical signs that you can look for. When a cat hisses, she will open her mouth, show her teeth, and make a snake-like sound. A male cat that has not been neutered will make a louder hiss than other cats.

Next, the cat’s ears will lay flat across her head. Then, she will arch her back and her tail will get poufy. The poufy tail is the easiest way to see that your cat feels threatened. This is the cat’s way of saying, “stay away or this will get ugly”. It may also mean that the cat is being territorial, letting other animals in her area know that this is her territory and they are not welcomed.

Some Reasons Cats Hiss

cage kittyMost people think that when a cat is hissing it is always being an aggressor. That a cat who hisses at other cats, dogs or people in the house is instigating a fight or trying to provoke a problem. A lot of the time this isn’t case. Usually, the cat is just trying to let everyone know that she is feeling threatened or that she feels as if her personal space is being invaded.

Cats also hiss when they are dissatisfied with a situation or don’t like something that is happening. There might not even be a risk or threat present. A great way to think of this is when you stub your toe on a coffee table, or when you forgot to get milk at the grocery store. If you had the ability to hiss, you probably would in these situations. Another example would be when your cat is laying in your chair and you move her to sit down. She may also hiss when she is in pain.

The Origins of Hissing

When a cat hisses it sounds very similar to a hissing snake. Behavior studies have linked cats hissing to them actually imitating a snake. Animals are notorious for coping and simulating what other aggressive animals do, so it’s not too strange that cats hiss because they were imitating snakes. It is believed that cats imitate snakes because snakes are so deadly and everyone, human or not, fears a snake’s hiss.

What to Do When Your Cat Hisses

When your cat hisses yHissing Catou don’t want to scold her. Instead, give her some space and time to relax. Sometimes, you will just have to let her blow off a little steam. This will let her know that you are respecting her space as well as saying that you understand her.

Also, keep in mind that if you are bringing a new pet into the equation, you will need to give your established cat time to accept that there is a new animal. She will hiss more than normal because she will feel like her space is being threatened. Keep the cats at a safe distance until they no longer hiss so much at each other.

When a friend or relative comes over and your cat hisses at them, don’t yell at your cat as this will only make the situation worst. Instead, let your cat sniff the new person’s hand for a while until they get acquainted with their smell. This will help your cat understand that this person is not a threat and that they are friendly.

If your cat paws at you or tries to bite for any reason, don’t pull away as this will definitely cause a deep scratch and send your cat the wrong signals. Talk very gently to your cat and pet her very, very slowly. This will show her that you are not going to harm her and will also help break down her defense wall with you and people in general.

Overall, there are many reasons for why a cat will hiss and bite. The key is to remember to try and understand why she is hissing and biting. This will help you decide the best way to put you cat at ease. It’s all about your cat feeling safe and secure in her home. There are many ways to do this and your cat will not only be happier because you understand, but she will love you for it as well.

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