Cats hiss for several reasons, but if you’re petting your cat and all of a sudden it hisses at you, you might wonder what you did to get this act of aggression. As it turns out, you probably didn’t do anything wrong, and your cat isn’t upset with you. So why did your cat hiss at you all of a sudden?
Your cat is hissing at you all of a sudden because they feel threatened by another cat or by you or are in pain. There might be a disruption in your routine, and your cat is stressed. They might feel they are losing their territory, or it might be due to petting-induced aggression.
You might not like being hissed at by your cat, but if you understand why they do it, you won’t get so offended by it. Let’s move on to find out more details.
Your Cat Is Hissing but Friendly
Your cat might normally be friendly, but something is creating their need to hiss at you. Most of the time, a friendly cat might hiss because it has too much interaction, and it needs to be left alone for a while. Or, your cat might be in pain and needs attention. Regardless of the reason, if your normally friendly cat is hissing at you, it’s time to take notice.
It might be that your cat is experiencing pain or irritation, and when you touch it in a certain spot, your cat is telling you to back off before it scratches or bites you. If your cat is usually very friendly, but it hisses at you when you touch it, you might want to call your vet and make an appointment for your cat.
One other thing to do if your friendly cat hisses at you suddenly is to give it some space.
Your Cat Feels Threatened by You
When you’re playing with your cat, does it suddenly hiss at you? The cause might be due to your cat suddenly feeling threatened and scared. You might have accidentally stepped on your cat’s tail or growled too loudly. Or, you might have drawn on the play too long, and your cat thinks you’re angry at it now.
At any rate, when your cat hisses at you, it could be that it feels threatened and needs a break from you. Don’t try to chase your cat at this point, as it will only make the situation worse, and you could end up getting scratched or bitten.
Your Cat Is in Pain
As mentioned before, your cat might be in pain. If their paw or tail is stepped on, they will either howl or hiss, or both, because of pain. They might have an infection in their jaw that causes pain when you pet their head.
Cats and dogs are prone to getting arthritis just like humans are, so if your older cat cries out or hisses at you when you pick it up or pet it, it might be from arthritis pain. Only a vet will be able to determine if your cat has arthritis pain or if it comes from something else, such as cancer.
Other things cause pain, such as infections, soft tissue injuries, or dental disease.
There Is a Disruption in Your Routine
Cats don’t handle stress very well, and a disruption to their routine might cause them stress. While they sometimes run and hide when there is chaos in your home, they will also stay in one spot and hiss at you.
What are some of the situations where a cat’s routine is disrupted enough to cause stress?
- Going to the vet and being put in a pet carrier is the biggest event that might cause your cat to hiss at you out of stress.
- If you are moving and there is a lot of activity in the house, your cat will get scared. They will hiss out of fear and stress.
- Fireworks are going off outside, and it is stressing your cat to the point where, if you try to console your cat, it will hiss at you.
- Construction outside will have the same effect as fireworks, so you might try distracting your cat with toys or treats if there is that going on.
If you cannot remove the stressor, try distracting your cat with other things like a laser pointer, a string, or ribbon. Get them moving a little, and they won’t have time to think about the other things going on around them.
The one difficult situation to distract your cat from is going to the vet and getting in the carrier. And what works for one cat won’t work for another cat. Some people try holding all four paws and quickly put their cat inside. Others try putting their cat’s favorite treats inside, which upon reflection, might only work once or twice before your cat catches on to this trick and decides not to fall for it.
Your Cat Might Be Tired of Your Petting
Petting aggression in cats is a very real thing, and it happens when they are overstimulated by petting. The nerve impulses become overworked and can create real physical pain for your cat. So, because of this, they hiss at you as a warning to stop, or they will bite or scratch you.
When your cat hisses at you after you’ve been petting it for a while, it is nothing personal and shouldn’t be taken that way. If you give your cat a little space and time, you’ll find that your cat will want more attention and affection.
Sometimes, when the air is dry, your petting could create sparks on your cat’s fur, making the petting painful. Cats will hiss at you because they don’t know why it hurts. All they know is that when you’re petting them, it hurts. Try wiping your hands with a damp washcloth, then petting your cat.
What Do You Do When Your Cat Hisses at You?
So your cat hissed at you. So what? Cats hiss for many reasons, as discussed in this article. But that doesn’t mean that your cat has a personal agenda against you, so try not to take it personally.
What should you do when your cat hisses at you?
- Stop what you’re doing immediately because your cat tells you that it is afraid or in pain.
- Let your cat have some space so that it can recover from whatever is wrong.
- Provide hiding spaces for your cat to hide in when it is upset.
- Realize that your cat is not mad at you, and you don’t need to apologize to it for it to love you still.
When you realize that your cat needs space and graciously give it, you lessen your cat’s stress due to your interference with their recovery process. However, if you’re concerned that your cat needs medical attention due to an infection, call your vet and make a well-being checkup appointment.
A cat hissing at you doesn’t necessarily mean that you did anything wrong, especially if you were petting it and showing it affection. It could just be that they are tired of affection and need some space.
However, sudden hissing might indicate a behavior change due to several reasons. If your cat shows the following changes, a vet visit might be needed:
- Loss of appetite.
- Sudden aggression, where no aggression previously existed.
- Excessive grooming.
- More hiding than usual.
- Your cat is sleeping more often.
Any behavior changes should be taken seriously.
- The Dog People: Why Is My Cat Hissing At Me?
- PetMD: Causes of Sudden Aggression In Cats
- Canidae: What Causes Sudden Aggression In Cats?
- The Spruce Pets: Behavior Changes to Watch Out For In Cats
- VetStreet: Why Does My Cat Hiss?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.