A cat usually hisses when they feel uncomfortable or threatened by something in their environment, either another cat, another animal, or even a human. Yes, it can even be their owner! But an occasional snub isn’t the same as your cat suddenly hissing at you whenever they see you, especially if they’re typically affectionate and cuddly.
Fortunately, this behavior is often caused by environmental, social, or physical factors, not a newfound disdain for you. But to solve the problem, you must figure out why your cat is hissing at you in the first place. Let’s dive in to see what vets say are the most common reasons that a cat might start hissing at their owner.
The 4 Reasons Your Cat Might Be Hissing at You Suddenly
A cat hisses usually as a reaction to an immediate situation. If your cat is suddenly hissing at you, they might feel fear about something in the environment, a change in your physical appearance, or your movements. Are you wearing a new hat? Are you moving differently? It is important to analyze what could potentially be causing your cat to feel afraid and to give the cat some space.
At this point, a cat might try to retrieve and hide but will potentially bite or snap in defense as a form of fear-induced aggression. It is best to retreat a step or two, discreetly observe the cat, and wait for them to calm down.
2. Introduction of a New Person or Animal
If you’ve just gotten a new cat, moved your spouse in, or even just had a friend over a few too many times for your cat’s comfort, they might start hissing at you. Whenever you are adding to the social environment of your cat, it is important to do gradual introductions and analyze the situation. If you can relate the sudden behavior of your cat hissing with bringing a new cat or person into their environment, it is time to make a physical separation for a while.
Once your cat has time to decompress, you can start to gradually introduce the two subjects. Short and positive introductions using food or treats as a reward for calm behavior and gradual approximations usually do the trick. A hissing and scared cat is not in a good mental state, so you, as the guardian and caretaker, should give your cat the time and experience they need to have a positive association with any addition to their social environment.
3. Need for Space
Cats can also hiss at each other or toward other creatures in an attempt to establish boundaries and let the other one know it is time to back up.
If a cat has hissed at you, it is better to leave them alone and provide space. Discreetly observe your cat from a distance to try to examine their behavior and if there is something specific in the environment that is scaring them. During this time, avoid speaking or interacting with your cat. You should keep in mind that it is safer to leave the cat alone, but whenever this is not possible, protection such as a thick towel must be used to carefully handle the cat.
The smoking gun for this one is whether your cat hisses at you all the time or only when you touch them in certain places or try to pick them up. If it’s the latter, your cat may be in pain. After all, touching a wounded body part rarely feels good.
Cats are exceptional at hiding their signs of illnesses. This biological drive protects them from opportunistic predators that might want to turn them into a tasty, easy-to-capture meal. While an indoor cat don’t suffer those same risks, they still have the biological drive to hide signs of illnesses. Your cat may not be forthcoming about their illness or injury and may only react when you touch them and make them hurt.
If you suspect that pain is the cause of your cat suddenly hissing at you, please visit the veterinarian soon. Since cats usually hide their pain and discomfort, by the time you notice that something is wrong, it is usually something that needs attention. Do not waste valuable time waiting to see if it passes.
It’s scary when our pets start acting out of the ordinary. Thankfully, this problem is typically resolvable without medical attention. The stressful lives led by cats worldwide cause most cases of atypical hissing.
However, if your cat only hisses when you touch them (not before you try, only once you come into physical contact), you’ll want to take your cat to the vet, since this is a sign that your cat is in pain and might need medical attention.
Featured Image Credit By: Anatoliy Cherkas, Shutterstock