Why Do Cats Hiss at People?

Cat hissing at a person out of fear or aggression.

Your cat is the sweetest, most affectionate feline ever. Then, suddenly, she's hissing at you! Why do cats hiss? There are a number of reasons your cat might hiss at you or other people. Here are some of the main ones, along with some steps that you can take to try and dissuade the behavior:

Recently Rescued Cats Might Hiss out of Fear

If you've recently rescued a cat and she is hissing at you or others, use the following tips to help her:

Cats May Hiss at You as a Form of Displaced Aggression

Displaced aggression occurs when your cat cannot attack the source of her frustration so she goes after a more convenient target, like you. Use the following tips to dissuade the behavior:

You can learn more here: "Redirected Aggression in Cats."

Cats Hiss at You Because You're Making Them Do Something They Don't Want to Do

Cats may hiss at people because they don't want to do what's being asked of them. Most commonly, this includes things like getting in the carrier, moving off of a favorite piece of furniture, or getting off the counter. You can decrease this type of hissing by:

When Hissing Is Frequent or Impairing Your Cat's or Another Cat's Quality of Life

If your cat's hissing is a new behavior, is frequent, or you can't identify one of the above causes, it could be a sign of a physical ailment, injury, or emotional problem. Consult with your veterinarian to rule out medical causes and possibly to work jointly on identifying emotional and/or environmental causes. Your veterinarian may recommend a cat behaviorist if the underlying problem is complicated, not readily apparent, or requires extended therapy to resolve.

Cats May Hiss at Strangers

Although you may be happy to welcome your favorite uncle, Floyd, or your best friend, Sue, into your home, your cat is more likely to initially see these unfamiliar humans as intruders into her territory and possible threats, especially if she doesn't know the individuals or is not used to people visiting the home. One of her reactions may be to hiss at the invader.

There are some things you can do to make everyone feel better about the encounter:

You may also like the following articles:

Cat Aggression Overview

Feliway - A Useful Tool to Help Treat Stress in Cats

What Does Catnip Do to Cats? Why Do Cats Like Catnip?

Honeysuckle: An Alternative to Catnip

Stress in Cats

Territorial Aggression in Cats

Injury or Illness-Related Aggression in Cats

Redirected Aggression in Cats

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at CatHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.