Feeling Threatened by or Fearful of People
“When cats feel threatened or afraid, they will hiss,” Stevenson says, noting that “it is not something they can control.” According to both of our experts, feeling threatened by or fearful of people is a common cause of hissing. “Cats typically hiss as a warning,” Koski explains. “Hissing is not necessarily an indication that your cat is aggressive, but it is a sign that your cat may attack if he continues to be provoked.”
If you notice your cat hissing when you or your family members attempt to handle him, he likely feels threatened in some way. As Stevenson notes, cats who are “handled roughly” might hiss “during restraint and on approach.” Similarly, you also may notice your cat hissing during a visit to the vet, as a reaction to being restrained by the doctor or technicians.
If your cat is hissing at you or your family members, it’s a good idea to take stock of your actions. Are you approaching your cat in a manner that could be read as aggressive, or not handling him gently enough? First of all, stop what you’re doing, and “give your cat space—this is critical,” Koski advises. “Slowly remove yourself from the situation and give your cat a way to escape so that he can cool off. It can take some cats time to recover from a scary situation, so make sure you let your cat come to you for the next interaction.”