Three Ways to Stop Cat Hissing

Cat hissing is a common and natural feline response that can startle or agitate almost any pet owner. The crouched body posture, tense facial expressions and distinct hissing sounds are often the result of a cat feeling frightened, defensive or aggressive.

Some animal behavior experts believe these characteristics also resemble the mannerisms of a hissing snake that is preparing to strike an enemy. Although cat hissing can be distressing, it doesn't have to be a long-term behavioral problem. Understanding the reasons for hissing, may be an important part of correcting the unwanted display. Here is a summary of common reasons for cat hissing and three ways to stop it.

Why Do Cats Hiss?

Hissing is generally observed when a cat opens its mouth, bares its teeth and makes distinctive vocalizations resembling an "sss"-like sound. There are a variety of reasons why cats display this intimidating behavior. Felines are, by nature, very territorial. Hissing may serve as a warning to other cats, people or animals to stay away from a particular area. Introducing a new pet, particularly a kitten, into an older cat's home may generate hissing from both animals. Cats may also hiss if they are frightened or injured. A move to a new home, a visit to the vet's office, or an illness or wound may illicit a hissing sound. Cats may also hiss while displaying aggression during a fight.

Here are three ways to stop cat hissing:

1) Introduce New Household Members Gradually

Whether you're bringing home a new pet or human family member, a slow introduction may help ease tensions and reduce the amount of hissing. Many animal care experts recommend isolating a cat from any newcomer for at least a couple of days. During this time, you may want to present your cat with material that has touched the new pet or person, so she can get used the different smell. After the trial separation, gradually expose your cat to a new pet that is kept safely in a carrier. The initial encounter may last only a few minutes, depending on how well both cats are getting along. Over time, the meeting times may extend until you feel it is safe to allow the new cat out of the carrier. Whether you're introducing your cat to another animal or a visitor, it may be easiest to allow her to do so on her own time. Forcing her to interact with a newcomer may cause her to hiss out of fear or anger.

2) Neuter Male Cats

Unneutered male cats are typically more prone to fighting and aggressive hissing behavior. Neutering, or "fixing," your male cat may help relieve some of these unwanted territorial tendencies.

3) Promote a Calm Household

There are a number of products designed to promote calmer environments for felines, particularly members of multi-cat households. All-natural pheromone supplements like catnip, Feliway, or veterinarian-prescribed medication like Valium may be used to ease tensions and territorial disputes. Having plenty of toys and stimulus may also help relieve boredom, which can sometimes trigger hissing and other signs of displaced aggression.