How to Get a Cat to Stop Hissing?

How to Get a Cat to Stop Hissing
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If you want to know how to get a cat to stop hissing, you must first understand why your pet is doing that. More often than not, a cat hisses because he wants to be left alone. And the best way to stop him from hissing is to just do that – leave him alone until he stops being upset.

How to stop your cat from hissing?

If you are unsure why your cat is hissing at you, the best thing to do is to leave your cat alone. Hissing is a sign that your cat wants to be in solitude. Move out of the room and wait until he calms down. 

Often, a cat will run and hide to his favorite spot after a hissing fit. Leave him alone to calm down in his favorite place. It may take a few hours before he gets back to normal. Just wait for him and resist the temptation to go to him to calm and comfort him. That will only make him more aggressive.

After a few hours, check on him at his hiding spot and see if he has calmed down. If your pet is no longer upset, you can entice him to come to you by offering food or his favorite treat. Be sure to approach him in a non-threatening manner. That means approaching him from his side and avoiding looking directly into his eyes. 

Reasons why your cat is hissing

Your cat can hiss at you, your houseguests, your kids, and other animals, including the other pets in your household. Understanding the underlying behavior behind his hissing will allow you to enforce a long-term solution to minimize, if not totally prevent such incidents.

1. A warning

Cats will hiss at people or other animals as a warning shot. Unlike some creatures, cats disdain actual confrontation and fighting. Instead, they will use body language, like hissing, to dissuade a human or animal from coming close.

This particular type of hissing is seen when another cat ventures into another feline’s territory, when a mother is protecting her kittens, or at the vet’s office when a cat is being handled.

This behavior is also prevalent in unneutered felines, especially during mating season. These cats hiss, not only to send a warning shot. More importantly, they display this behavior to scare off other cats and fend off potential attacks.

Cats often hiss when a new cat or a new kitten is introduced to the home.

2. Pain

A cat is unable to tell you directly if he is in pain. More often than not, you can determine if something is ailing your pet through his reaction when you try to touch him. If your cat hisses at you when you touch a specific body part, that can indicate that he is in pain. In some cases, a cat will not even let you come close enough to touch him.

Pain Hissing
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3. Unfamiliar objects

Cats are creatures of habit. This principle does not only apply to their routines. It can also apply to their environment. Cats can be stressed by changes in their environment. Hissing can be set off by a new decor or furniture that you brought home recently. Instead of adding new things into a room, especially the ones which your cat frequents, you should introduce new objects to your cat slowly to curb his anxiety.

4. Stress

Your cat may seem less amiable than usual because he is stressed. Cats can be stressed by changes in the environment brought about by the changing of the season. Felines also have remarkable hearing and a sense of touch. Overwhelming these senses, in the form of loud noises and excessive touching, can also cause a cat to be anxious.

5. Rough play

Kittens, in particular, can hiss at their siblings if one of them plays too rough. When a kitten hisses at another young cat, it simply means he wants the other kitten to stop.

6. Annoyance

Cats can hiss at their owners out of annoyance. There are times that your cat just wants to be left alone and attempting to interact with him can set off a hissing fit. Here, nothing is really wrong with your pet. He just wants to be left alone.

Your pet may also be hissing because your young kids will not leave him alone. Sometimes, your cat’s energy does not match your child’s energy. This is why it is important to monitor the interaction between your pet and your kid. Your kid might not understand your pet’s energy and reactions, leading to a negative interaction.

Stopping your pet from hissing at your other cats

Stopping your pet from hissing at your other cats
Image: / Nils Jacobi

If you live in a multi-cat household, hissing should not be a daily occurrence. Although stopping your cats from hissing at one another is a difficult task, it is not impossible to achieve this goal.

It all begins when you bring another cat into your home. By the time you bring another cat, your first cat will have established himself as the alpha in your home. An alpha cat will see the new cat as an intruder. That means that your first cat instinctively goes on the defensive, defending his territory from your new pet.

Before introducing a new cat to your first pet, it is a good idea to separate them so that they cannot see one another but they should be able to hear and smell each other. Continue this for a few days.

After that, slowly introduce each cat to one another by letting them see each other. Prevent hissing by giving each of them treats. Do this for brief periods for a few days. Increase each interaction by a few minutes each day.

Your cat’s territorial behavior can also be set off by feeding your pets next to each other. Your first cat may feel that your new cat is attempting to steal his food. Prevent this negative interaction by keeping your cats separated while eating. You can either set up separate feeding stations or feed each cat at different times.

The same principle applies to litter boxes and sleeping areas. Make sure that your kitties have their own litter boxes and sleeping areas.

Why you should not punish your cat for hissing

When your cat hisses at you, the first thought that probably comes to mind is that you need to punish your cat. The long and short of it is that punishing your cat does not work. At best, your cat will not understand the underlying reason behind the punishment. At worst, you will have to contend with an angry cat.

Unlike dogs, scolding does not work on cats most of the time.

If your cat is hissing and visibly upset, the best thing to do is to leave him alone. This accomplishes two things. For one, this helps your cat settle down and overcome his tantrum. Second, it teaches him that hissing at you is not something that you will tolerate. 

But apart from punishing his bad behavior by ignoring him, it is vital to encourage good behavior through rewards. Every time he walks up to you to play or to cuddle, you can reinforce this good behavior by giving him treats. This way, he will learn that hissing is not tolerated, and being amiable is rewarded.

Stopping your cat from hissing

It can be distressing or even downright annoying to get hissed at by your pet cat. But you cannot fight fire with fire. Instead of confronting or punishing your cat, just let him be and allow his temper to simmer down. While letting him cool his head off, think of the possible reasons behind his outburst.