Keeping your cat clowder happy isn't always easy. Cats are temperamental, complex creatures, and it's almost impossible to know what's going through their furry little heads.
For example, if your feline friend is usually very cuddly but has started hissing at you out of nowhere, you'll undoubtedly be confused by this change of behavior. Thankfully, hissing doesn't mean your little lion suddenly hates you — it could be caused by environmental, social, or physical factors.
Let's take a look at some of the possible reasons why your cat is suddenly hissing.
The Root of the Behavior
There are several reasons why cats start hissing suddenly. Cats usually hiss when they are afraid or dislike something. A change in your behavior may be causing your cat to hiss. Cats thrive with consistency, and a sudden shift in how you treat your cat could cause confusion and aggression. If you yell at your cat or punish them, they may be confused by what they've done wrong, which could cause your cat to hiss at you.
Felines also hiss because of change to their environment or the introduction of a new person or animal, resulting in fear-induced aggression.
Introducing a new family member or roommate to your household may leave your cat feeling threatened, as they feel their place in your home's hierarchy is at risk. A cat may also start hissing if there's a change to their routine which causes them stress, like frequent vet visits or moving house.
One of the most common reasons cats suddenly start hissing is they're injured or have a medical issue. If your cat hisses at you, especially when you pet them in a specific area or pick them up, they may be in pain.
Encouraging the Behavior
Of course, you won't want to encourage your cat to hiss, and you'll want to find out what's causing the issue. If you think your cat's hissing is caused by pain, take them to the vet as soon as possible. Common ailments like gum disease and arthritis can cause aggression in cats. It could also be caused by something more serious, like cancer.
Cats are solitary creatures, and inter-cat aggression is common. If you have multiple cats, provide one more food bowl, water bowl, and litter tray than the number of cats. (For example, if you have 2 cats, provide 3 food bowls, 3 water bowls, and 3 litter trays.) Doing so will help reduce territorial disputes, as the cats won't feel the need to compete as much.
If the vet checks out your tiny tiger and can't find anything wrong, it could be related to how you interact with your cat. Try being consistent in the way you treat your cat, without being aggressive. If your cat is doing something you don't want them to do or is being aggressive, try using different methods to discourage them.
Cats like to know their place in their household and don't like constant disruptions to their routine. If you've introduced a new animal or person to your household, ensure your cat has a safe space they can go to so they don't feel threatened.
Other Solutions and Considerations
There are a few other possible causes of your cat hissing. If you have another pet that your cat considers prey, they may display predatory aggression. Being near a guinea pig, mouse, or bird may be causing your cat to hiss. Solving this issue is complicated and may require special training.
If your cat has just given birth, they could be hissing due to a maternal behavior problem. Cats can be very protective of their kittens and may hiss as a warning to stay away. Cats may also hiss at their kittens, which could be due to anxiety.
Providing your cat with a dark, quiet place to raise their kittens should help resolve the issue. You should also consult your vet to check for other possible reasons why your cat is hissing at their kittens.
Your cat could also be hissing due to something simple, like a lack of stimulation. If you have an indoor cat and don't play with them enough or provide enough toys, they could be aggressive out of stress induced by boredom. Try buying puzzle toys or a laser pointer to cure your cat's boredom.
Cats suddenly start hissing for several reasons, most commonly due to pain, a change in routine, or the introduction of a new person/animal to your home. If your cat is hissing suddenly, take them to the vet to be safe. Then, try to be consistent in the way you treat your cat, and provide them with plenty of stimulation and a safe space. If you have multiple cats, take steps to reduce conflict and competition.
Sudden hissing can be caused by a serious medical issue. Insuring your kitten as soon as “pawssible” is essential for preventing high vet care costs. Start comparing insurance plans from leading insurers like Healthy Paws and Embrace and save over $270 a year.