Is It Bad To Hiss Back At Your Cat?

Is It Bad To Hiss Back At Your Cat?

Cats have various vocalizations to express their emotions. They meow, trill, chirp, purr and hiss. Each of these cat sounds has a corresponding meaning. For instance, if a cat hisses, it means that she is trying to defend herself and is feeling threatened. Some cat owners tend to imitate this and other sounds that their cats make, mainly to get a reaction from their cats. 

Is it bad to hiss back at your cat?

Yes, it is bad to hiss back at your cat and not a good idea at all. Your cat may comprehend it as aggressive behavior and try to retaliate. If you hiss back at her, it could also scare her and she may hesitate to approach you afterwards.  

Cats hiss to convey or communicate that they are in pain, scared or feeling threatened. They make the sound by opening their mouth and expelling air sharply from the back of the mouth. The hissing sound is a bit like a whistle that lasts around a second. If it lasts only a fraction of a second, it is called a short hiss or a spit.

If you hiss back at your cat she may think that there is some sort of a problem, and she may become intimidated and run away. It does not physically hurt your cat if you hiss at her, but it would make her uncomfortable.

Some owners hiss at their cats to convey disapproval of certain behaviours. If you imitate your cat’s sound of disapproval, they will notice when they are doing something wrong. Cats will learn this if you start when they are still kittens. By imitating the hiss, it could communicate to your cat that what she is doing is not allowed. To make sure that your cat understands what you want to convey, make the sound at the exact moment the undesirable behavior is happening. 

Why do cats hiss?

Cats hiss to intimidate the antagonizer into stopping their behavior or running away. It is your cat’s way of implying that there is something she is not happy about. It usually resembles the hissing sound of a snake that is ready to strike. 

Cats may also hiss randomly if they are in pain. The signs that your cat may be in pain include loss of appetite, dilated pupils, increased sleep and decreased play, repeatedly licking or biting the same spot, panting, messy fur, shuffling when walking, and changes in personality. If your cat manifests any or all of these signs, take her to the vet for a thorough evaluation and treatment. 

Should you punish your cat for hissing?

Cat experts suggest that you should redirect your cat from her undesirable behavior in a subtle way. This should be sufficient, and you do not need to punish your cat outright. Generate a displeasing association between action and consequence. 

Some cat owners use a can of compressed air, a water bottle or a handheld alarm to redirect their cats. Stay out of sight when using this method, since the goal is for your cat to stop hissing (or other untoward behavior) without knowing that you are the one who redirected her. 

What to do if your cat is hissing at you

If your cat is hissing at you, give her space to make her calmer. Give her time and try to ignore her. Do not hold or comfort her as it could make her feel more threatened. It could take hours before your cat settles down, and once she calms down and comes out of her hiding place, offer her food or catnip. Do not make eye contact unless she is relaxed. Cats see eye contact as assertive and confrontational. 

Other types of cat vocalization: 


Cats have various vocalizations that convey emotions, such as meowing, purring and hissing. They hiss to let their owner know they are in pain, scared, unhappy or feeling threatened. If you see your cat hissing, it is not a good idea to hiss back at her. She may comprehend it as aggressive behavior and she may react negatively, retaliate or become scared of you.

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