Help me with hissing behavior

This is a place to gain some understanding of cat behavior and to assist people in training their cats and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other cat owners and lovers...not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


Purred: Mon Jan 17, '11 9:15am PST 
My male 4 1/2 year old cat has started something very disturbing to me. At first I thought it was funny and didn't tend to it because I wasnt really sure how to deal with it and my cat is such a lover and loves me that I didn't think he was purposly doing it towards me.
He will jump up on my lap as I am on the laptop, he will purr and I will pet him. He's kneading and so content. This lasts for about 5 minutes. All of a sudden without warning his ears will go back and he'll hiss at me.
I have gotten to the point now that I am a bit nervous when he comes up on my lap, I dont know if hissing will eventionally lead to biting me or attacking me though it hasn't as of yet. I have been telling him, "No, Clark" very firmly and pushing him off my lap as soon as he hisses at me.
This even happens when I dont pet him and he's on my lap so it's not from being overstimulated from too much petting.
It is happening about 5 times per week now. I don't understand where this is coming from. Nothing has changed in the household.
Am I dealing with this appropriately?


Purred: Tue Jan 18, '11 6:56am PST 
He just did it to me again yesterday. I didn't call him up on my lap, he did it on his own (as per usual)
He was sitting there for about 10 minutes. Out of the blue he looked at me and hissed for about 2 seconds so it's not a quick hiss.
He's just such a loving cat in so many other ways. He follows me around the house, talks to me, sleeps at my feet at night etc. This is just very disturbing.

Smokie Boo- Dreamboat- #104b

Rescued cats- like me are the- best!
Purred: Tue Jan 18, '11 11:59am PST 
I understand your discomfort, and let me share with you what little I have experieced.
Hissing is primarily a defense reaction. Our new cat, Natalie the NatCat explored a paperbag yesterday and while in there, facing the back, began to hiss and growl. It was comical, really, because thee was nothing to hiss at.
Or was there? She was clearly smelling Ruffy, who had been in the bag before her.
Smokie Boo still hisses sometimes when my husband is wearing black. He doesn't do it if my husband is wearing anything else. But black to Smokieboo is a 'scary' thing.
I don't know what's going on with Clark. Could he be smelling something that is setting him off? Something that is bringing up memories for him? Could he be smelling a cat from outside at that spot, is the window open, letting the scent of other cats that might be ready to take his territory? (Smokie will sometimes sit in our window and 'trill' to the feral cats below that we can't see, but he can beyond the screen in the dark.)
Hissing can me much and nothing. It can also on occasion be a cat trying to take 'dominance'. In which case, you respond correctly. I had a cat named Ramses years ago that would do that. Just to let me know, really that he was 'bad'. (he wasn't, not in the least. He never attacked, he just hissed and let me know he wanted me to think he was 'bad'.)
I would advise you to get him a check up, though, too. Sometimes 'cranky behavior' can mean the onset of a health issue like thyroid problems, diabetes or even glaucoma (a cat who can't see well and who's in pain will sometimes hiss) Not saying thats what it is, just saying it's good to check out!

All the best to you! Clark sounds well cared for! smile

Penn & Teller

Masters of The- Multiverse
Purred: Tue Jan 18, '11 12:16pm PST 
Hey there I don't have any experience with cats past the age of 1 but I did see a thread about this earlier. Someone replied with a suggestion that their cat could have a mental issue called feline hyperesthesia but it says that it occurs mostly in cats a little older than Clark.

http://www.petplace.com/cats/feline-hyperesthesia/page1.as px

Best take Clark into the vet just to be sure though!


Purred: Tue Jan 18, '11 2:27pm PST 
It's strange that you mentioned Hyperesthesia. I just saw it in another thread and looked it up. I am curious if this could be it.
Clark is such a crazy cat. He is very loved and responds so well us yet some of his behavior which we have laughed at I find odd but I thought was normal.
He will sometimes go after his tail when he's in the cat tree as if it's not a part of him. He also licks his tail by the back of him. He will also go nuts as if something is chasing him around the house. He'll even make this funny "Meow" noise right before he takes off zipping around the house as if something is chasing him. It's the look in his eyes as he does this. Pupils dialated etc, we laugh at him when he does this. Now I wonder if perhaps its more than just him acting silly. My son has even affectionalty nicknamed him "Crazy Clark" because of the way he acts.