Do cats hiss when they play?

Cats are typically placid and cool animals. Kitty and the rest of the tribe would be often seen quietly grooming or sleeping the day away perched atop unlikely places. Cats have an unaccountable inclination to sit on the windowsill and watch the world go by. Unlike dogs that would bark at the slightest movement and sound, cats are seldom heard vocalizing. Cats indeed are gentle animals. This is why a cat owner would be surprised if the cat hisses and manifests an aggressive behaviour while playing.

The cat that is quietly playing with its toy suddenly arched its back, draws back the lips and bares the needle sharp fangs. With the half shut eyes, held back ears and lashing tail, the cat expels a loud and terrifying hiss. A hiss is a sound made by one of the most fearsome animals – a snake. Cats are gentle animals. Why then would kitty hiss especially if it is playing? A hiss is a warning…a “back off or else” threat. Apart from the unsheathed claws and needle sharp fangs, cats do not have other means of scaring would-be opponents. Cats are not very strong animals. They do not have venoms that they can inject the enemy with. What can be a better way than mimicking the sound made by the snake? After all snakes are fearsome and intimidating animals.

Hissing is a part of a cat’s aggressive repertoire. Cat owners would find it kind of funny to see the usually calm face of the pet becomes contorted while it concentrates on being the reptile’s imitator. A hissing cat is not a happy cat. A cat hisses to defend its home, its territory against the invasion of humans and other animals. Although cats are not as territorial as dogs, these feline friends would still react if the presence of another animal is viewed as invasion of its territory. Cats would hiss at people too. Don’t be mad at your pet if it hisses at your guest. The cat is actually protecting you.

Cats are playful animals. Cat owners need not provide the pet with expensive toys as the pet would derive the same enjoyment from a piece of paper tied to a string and dangled in front of its face. Playing is supposed to be a pleasurable activity for a cat. This is why a cat owner would be surprised if the cat would suddenly stop playing and hiss. There are reasons why a playing cat would hiss. Has the cat seen another animal in the yard? Is there a new pet in the house? The hissing is the cat’s way of establishing its territory against the animal outdoors and dominance over the new pet. By hissing, the resident cat is warning the newcomer to behave…not to steal its food and toy. It is common for the pets in a multi-cat household to play with each other. However, cat owners would notice hissing while the pets are playing. Older cats have the tendency to hiss and manifest an aggressive behaviour if the younger cats become too boisterous. Obviously, the older cat cannot cope with the energies of the younger cats. Cats of the same age would hiss at each other too while playing. Hissing is one of the signs of play aggression. Kittens are supposed to learn bite inhibition from the mother cat but kittens that were weaned too early or those that were taken to a new home would not learn bite inhibition. It is common for the play to get too rough. A cat that gets too carried away can scratch and bite too hard thereby hurting its playmate. This is one of the reasons why cats would hiss while playing.

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