Why Do Cats Hiss?

Why Do Cats Hiss?

If you have ever owned a cat then you have heard the dreaded sound of the hiss. Even the nicest cats can feel threatened and need to send a warning sign. Although this is normal and happens occasionally in all cats, a hissing cat should not be taken lightly.

Why Do Cats Hiss?

A hissing cat is hoping to startle his enemy long enough so he has a chance to escape or really frighten a potential attacker, so he backs off completely. If given a choice, cats would rather not engage in any type of harmful conflict or fight. Cats will issue a series of vocal warnings which other animals (and people) instinctively understand. For each threatening cat sound you hear, the cat is one step closer to actual physical aggression.

Vocal warnings usually begin with the impressive rolling growl, which is common in many animals. If growling doesn’t do the trick, the next step up is the snake-like hiss. Researchers believe that cats use an instinctive and effective method of self defense called mimicry, which has evolved over the ages and across species. Cat hissing, sounds very much like the hiss of a snake, which is a sound or warning that causes alarm and fear in the animal kingdom and people.

How the Hiss is Delivered

To make the hissing sound, cats leave their mouths partially open and tense their facial muscles. With their lips pulled back and razor sharp teeth on display, a rush of air is forced through the cat’s grooved tongue, which creates the hissing sound. Cat hissing is often followed by spitting, an powerful spray of moisture thrust out of a cat’s mouth on a blast of forced air.

To add some impact to cat hissing, an aggressive cat may also flatten his ears against his head. One theory is this ear posture makes the hissing cat also look like a snake. Another theory is the ears are flattened to protect them from injury, should an actual battle take place.

Mother Nature kicks in again with another threatening display known as piloerection. Piloerection occurs when tiny muscles under the cat’s hair cause the hair to stand on end. A cat will also arch its back and turn its body so it faces sideways toward the enemy. Both of these postures are meant to make cats appear larger and more capable of defending themselves.

Should these defensive measures fail to scare off an attacker, a cat fight is likely the next step. During a cat fight, the sounds heard might include a short, harsh growl with snapping or gnashing of teeth and a yowling in reaction to pain.

What Causes Hissing?

Hissing can occur for many reasons. If your cat is handled when he is not well or is in pain, he might express his discomfort with an angry hiss, just as humans might yelp under similar circumstances.

If you own more than one cat, a cat returning home with strange smells, may trigger a hissing episode from a confused cat mate.

It is alleged that one cat may sense when another cat is not well and will try to avoid being exposed to a contagious illness by hissing.

Cat hissing is one of the many sounds cats make when they:

  •    are annoyed or angry
  •    feel threatened (and that often means just plain scared
  •    or are on the brink of physical aggression.

The message is “leave me alone because if I must defend myself, I will”.

How to Stop Cat Hissing

Develop a calm household – There are several products designed to promote calmer environments for your cat, specifically those with multi-cat households. All-natural pheromone supplements like catnip, Feliway diffusers, or veterinarian-prescribed medication like Valium may be used to ease any tension or territorial disputes. Also having plenty of toys may also help relieve boredom, which can sometimes trigger hissing and other signs of displaced aggression.

Introduce new pets slowly – Keep the cats in different rooms initially. Feed them so that they can not see each other but are able to smell and hear the other. After a day or two, allow them to get a look at each other, rewarding with treats if there is no hissing. Feed and play with them separately before bringing them together for short intervals of play time. Slowly extend the time they are together while you monitor their behavior.

Reduce competition – To reduce the amount of competition cats might feel towards each other, give each cat his own food and water bowls, toys, beds, litter boxes, etc. These can even be located in different areas of your home to give your cats much needed space. Provide additional hiding places and cat trees as well.

Provide alternate stimulation – Aggression is a way to release energy for some cats. Providing a stimulating environment can help your cat to rid himself of some of that energy before it leads to aggression. Scratching posts, climbing perches, and cat trees are not only activity centers, they are also a place where your cat can curl up and get a nap and privacy. It is recommended you stimulate your cat by playing with him, but only during times when there are no signs of aggression.

Reward for good behavior –  To stop a cat from hissing and biting, you can try rewarding his good behavior, so the bad won’t happen as often. When he is showing no aggression at all consider giving him a treat to encourage that behavior.

Call the veterinarian – If you’ve tried the above suggestions and still can’t seem to quiet the hissing, consider the possibility that something may be bothering your cat, especially if she hisses when you try to handle him.
Call your veterinarian to discuss your concerns. A quick checkup may be all it takes to figure out why your cat keeps hissing.

Conclusion

Once you’ve determined what is causing your cat to hiss, you can work with your kitty to take steps to either avoid the triggers or reduce the underlying fear or aggression. With a little patience and understanding, your cat will have nothing left to hiss about.

Why Cat Training is so Difficult

Why Cat Training is so Difficult

Cat training behavior can be quite frustrating, but the first step in training is to actually understand where your cat is coming from. Here are 10 reasons why training your cat is such a challenge.

Cats Do Not Recognize Hierarchies

Dogs are fairly easy to train because they recognize their owners for who they are, their master. Dogs quickly learn that their owner gives the orders and if they follow them, they are rewarded. If they do not, they are punished. Cats, on the other hand, usually do not recognize their owner as their master and do not take directions.

Cats are Solitary Creatures

Cats by nature are solitary creatures but are fine tuned to their surroundings. They also demand affection when they want it. On the other hand, when cats don’t want to do something they usually will not do it. The bottom line is, they do need your companionship to be happy, but on their own terms.

Cats Communicate Differently than Dogs

When a dog wants something they get really excited and bark or jump at it. Cats, on the other hand, will sit and stare at it or twitch his tail. This makes it tough to train a cat because you probably won’t know what your cat is trying to say or communicate to you. Once you know your cats body language, training will be easier.

Cats Lose Interest in Training

Cats do not have the same attention span as dogs. If you reward your dog he will pay attention to you. Although cats do respond to incentives, they usually grow tired of training even if they are being rewarded.

Cats Are Mischievous By Nature

Cats are mischievous and curious by nature, so training them is more of a challenge. Cats maybe mischievous because they are bored. By nature, cats want to hunt and explore. Kittens are far more curious and mischievous but usually grow out of it, if trained early on.

Cats Respond to Pleasant Consequences

Does your cat jump on your chest at 5 in the morning and meow until you feed him? If you get up and do so, you are indirectly training your cat to wake you up. Even if you don’t know it, you are teaching your cat that if he wakes you up, he will be fed.

Punishing Your Cat for Bad Behavior Will Break Your Bond

Cats are intolerant of human forms of punishment, and physically dominating your cat will break your bond with him. Cats become irritated when you punish them, so instead of taking the hint and changing their behavior they often become angry and withdrawn.

Cats Do Not Respond Positively to Physical Punishment

Cats don’t respond as well to punishment the same as dogs because of their independence. They look at physical punishment as a threat as opposed to a punishment for bad behavior. Cats have a hard time associating the physical punishment with the bad behavior making it useless for training purposes.

Expecting the Same Results Training a Cat as a Dog

Dog behavior is not the same as cat behavior. Dogs are easier to train because of their friendly and amicable nature while cats, on the other hand, are just not as easy to train. Cat owners need to have patience. Believe it or not, you can even train your cat to perform some ‘dog like’ tricks if you want. For starters, you can train your cat to sit on command, or to walk on a leash.

Cats Have Better Memory than Dogs

To potty train your cat, you should put him in the room with his litter box and wait until he learns to use it. If your cat has an accident or starts to “go” someplace other than the litter box, pick him up and put him in it.

Conclusion

Like dogs, cats are motivated to do things that will benefit them. Turning your cat’s favorite activities into positive behaviors and rewarding him, can work to your advantage. Also training your kitten as soon as you bring him home will give him the opportunity to not start with bad behavior.

Cat Body Language : What Your Cat is Trying to Tell You

Though your cat may seem aloof, this often-reclusive creature is really quite the chatterbox, if you know what to look for.  Your cat uses body language almost exclusively to communicate. Watching how your cat carries himself will help you to understand how he’s feeling. As you become familiar with cat body language, you will be able to predict his behavior as well. Your cat is talking all the time, and it’s just a matter of knowing how to listen.

Rubbing

Aromatic markers called pheromones help establish and maintain a cat’s territory. These powerful scents are critical elements in communication between cats, and are emitted by different glands located strategically throughout the cat’s body.

Rubbing cheeks acts not only as a means to pick up or leave scent markers, but also as a means to create a relationship based upon physical contact. Although cats have earned a reputation of being unfriendly, they too need bodily contact for reassurance and affection.

Cats will also use contact to communicate urgency, from gentle reminders of feeding time to a demanding insistent rub. Rubbing or butting may also be a signal of social rank.

The Tail

A cat’s tail acts as an extension of his thoughts, as well as an indicator of his mood and even a warning of intention.

Annoyance – Broad swishing of the tail indicates annoyance. For example, if your cat decides he’s had enough petting, he will signal you by swishing his tail in impatience. If you continue, your cat may “bat” you with his paw or growl softly. Though usually good-humored, the batting is an act of aggression indicating your cat’s agitation.

Agitated – Cats will move their tails rapidly back and forth from the base which is a clear threatening signal. Generally speaking, the larger and more rapid the swish, the more upset the cat is. It is to the cat’s advantage to exhibit a visible warning to other cats (and to you), in an effort to avoid direct conflict. Cat’s involved in a conflict may extend their fully bristled tail straight into the air and turn their body sideways to appear larger.

Fear or Submission – If your cat is afraid or is trying to avoid a confrontation with a dominant cat, his tail will puff up or become bristled. He will then lower his tail or tuck it between his legs as a sign of submission.

Excitement or Curiosity – Twitches (as opposed to swishes) of the tail display excitement and curiosity.

Friendly – A raised tail, as long as the fur isn’t bristled, indicates that your cat is being friendly. If your cat is really excited, as often happens when you come home after a long day at work, or when you open a can of cat food, the upraised tail might begin to twitch with anticipation. Your cat may next try to talk to you, or begin rubbing against your leg.

The Body

Body language is not just restricted to a cat’s tail. From the way your cat stands to the position of its ears, your cat is saying something.

Legs – Your cat’s legs were not made for just walking around. A bend in the forelegs shows that the cat would rather avoid a fight, but will defend itself if the need arises. When your cat expands his body, fluffing up, it is showing both confidence and aggression. If your cat’s legs are stretched fully, he is self-assured and prepared to attack. A bend in the hind legs, however, shows indecision, or even timidity. When your cat shrinks his body size, legs tucked underneath, he’s showing submission, as well as readiness for action.

Ears – Your cat’s ears do more than just hear, for the ears can talk as well. When the ears are back and the posture is steady, your cat is unsure of what move to make, and considering his options. If the ears are back, and the body is low to the ground, this is a display of shame or remorse. Your cat’s pricked ears show his interest in what’s going on around him.

Head – When your cat raises his head directly, this is an attempt to display dominance. If his head is lowered, that means submissiveness, or even a feeling of inferiority. When his head is completely tucked in, your cat is probably bored. If he’s sneaking around low to the ground at a crawl, he is going after something, stalking his ‘victim’. Be aware that your cat will start a full speed assault.

Vocals

Purring is not a part of every cat’s repertoire of social communication, yet is one of the most common. Not a great deal is known about the mechanics of purring, but purring is associated with contentment and happiness in cats. Interestingly, though, purring is sometimes heard in cats that are severely ill or anxious, perhaps as a self-comforting vocalization.

Vocal cats utilize vowel sounds to indicate their desires, the classic “meow” as an example. The subtle differences in sound communicate commands as well as requests and complaints. In the wild, vowel sounds are restricted to kittens, but the process of domestication has extended this method of communication well into adulthood.

In adult cats, there is a level of high intensity sounds that are created by your cat shaping its mouth. Hisses and grumbling are the most common example, used primarily between other cats, as a means of communicating aggressive or defensive intentions. Cats in heat and feral strays also use this form of communication.

Fight or Flight

Even a small kitten can become aggressive if backed into a corner by another cat. As adrenaline kicks in, the”fight or flight” response takes over. When this occurs even a little kitten can be successful at scaring off a larger cat if flight is not an option.

Fear, and the fight-or-flight response to it, is an instinctive adaptation to many situations. Fleeing or hiding from a perceived danger has preserved cats in the wild throughout history. When the flight response doesn’t work, the fight response is called upon.

All cats are capable of this fear powered aggression. Triggering such behavior depends on the cat’s fear sensitivity threshold, and the accessibility of hiding areas and escape routes. As long as a cat perceives a threat, with nowhere to run, only then will it become aggressive. Most of the time, cats, even in full fight mode, will attempt to avoid direct conflict through a show of intent. Your cat’s first strategy is an attempt at making himself appear larger to his potential foes with hopes that the foe will retreat. With backs arched, claws out, and hair raised, cats lock eyes in a fierce standoff.  Hissing and growling, accompanied by the occasional swing of a paw, continues until one cat breaks eye contact, ending the battle of wills.

Typically a dominant victor will emerge from an actual confrontation, and the two cats will usually avoid each other. If fighting continues, it may be time to consult a behaviorist.

Conclusion

While it may seem like cats use an elaborate system for communicating, every cat is different. Over time you will learn your cat’s unique way of communicating. Understanding how your cat communicates will help you and him form a special bond.

Why Does My Cat Scratch ?

 

Are your chairs, window screens and rugs all turning to confetti beneath your cat’s lethal claws? Scratching is a serious problem in some households but can be minimized or resolved if approached properly. To understand destructive scratching and how to stop it, you first must understand why your precious feline is doing it in the first place.

Reasons

Before cats were domesticated, they were fierce hunters. They relied on their razor sharp claws to help them climb trees so that they could leap down on their prey. Today, cats may get their meals from a bowl, but they still sharpen their claws. Scratching is their way of trimming their nails, since it removes the old outer part of the claws. It also helps wear down the tip of the nail, which keeps their nails healthy.

Another reason cats scratch is to let other cats know that your house and yard belong to them. When cats scratch, they “mark” their territory by leaving behind visual markers as well as scent markers from small glands in the pads of their feet.

Cats may also scratch because they’re excited or frustrated. Your cat may scratch upon seeing you walk in the door. He is excited to see you and most likely expressing joy. If your cat sees another cat out doors or even a dog, he could scratch out of frustration.

Finally, cats scratch to get the kinks out of their bodies and to burn off some of their energy. Cats also like to dig their claws into something to get a full-body stretch, especially after a long nap.

Prevention

One simple way to prevent cats from scratching is to provide them with scratching pads or posts. You can shop for a wide variety of scratching posts, including posts that are part of an elaborate condo. However, you can also make your own simple scratching post, using a two foot high section of a four by four, a two foot by two foot piece of heavy plywood, and a carpet remnant. Once you have a scratching post or pad, be sure you place it right next to your kitty’s favorite piece of furniture. After he is in the habit of scratching the post, you can try moving it a bit further from the furniture, but you should do so gradually.

Never resort to declawing your cat! Declawing your cat is a cruel, inhumane and is the equivalent of amputation. Pain can last long after the healing process and may even continue for the rest of your cat’s life.

If having his own personal scratching post doesn’t deter your cat from ruining the furnishings, try using a pet repellent spray, such as Bitter Apple, on the furniture. (You may want to test the spray on part of the upholstery first to be sure it doesn’t discolor the fabric.) If you don’t want to risk spraying your furniture, try covering the material with aluminum foil or tape that is placed sticky side up. Your cat will not care for the feel of these materials and should willingly turn to his scratching post instead.

The easiest and most humane way to do so is to regularly trim the cat’s claws. Blunt claws do less damage than sharp ones. Trim the claws about once a week, and always avoid the blood vessels and nerves in the base of the claws so you do not injure the cat. If you aren’t sure how to trim your cat’s claws, ask your veterinarian to show you.

Some people recommend using nail caps or covers like Soft Claws instead. These caps do have a tendency to fall off and will need to be replaced occasionally. The caps are applied in a similar manner to the way manicurists attach false nails on humans. The nails are shortened and then the caps are applied with a non toxic adhesive.

Punishing scratching behavior is rarely successful in stopping it. You may stop the destruction in your presence but not at other times. The destruction will continue and your cat will be afraid of you.

Conclusion

Scratching is a completely normal and healthy behavior that most cats engage in and it serves many purposes. Cat trees, posts or condos can be an excellent option if they are made for scratching. If your cat needs a little help finding and using scratching posts, you can sprinkle a little catnip on them to make them more inviting.

How to Walk Your Cat on a Leash

How to Walk Your Cat on a Leash | Cat Mania | For Cat Lovers

While almost every dog owner walks their dog, few cat owners walk their cats. However, cats can be trained to walk on a leash outdoors. In fact, there are collars, harnesses, and leashes specially designed just for cats. How to walk your cat on a leash starts with the right equipment and a little patience.

Unlike dog collars, cat collars are not created so that they can be used with a cat leash. Cat collars are usually created with a break away safety feature to prevent strangling. Instead, collars are used for other reasons like ID tags or accessories. Some believe a cat with a bell on its collar will warn birds of an approach.

Choices

Cat harnesses are designed to stay securely on your cat, even when the leash is attached. You can buy a simple nylon harness for your cat or you can find more deluxe models that look more like padded vests or jackets. The leash attachment is toward the middle on these harnesses rather than at the neck, which is much safer and less stressful for your kitty. As long as the harness is completely adjustable, it should work for most size cats.

Cat leashes can be standard leashes or retractable models. Whichever type of leash you choose, be sure that it is lightweight enough to allow your cat to move easily under its weight. Retractable leashes are ideal for people who want to allow their cats to explore their surroundings in a park or other traffic safe area, but want to keep cats close by when they are walking to and from their homes.

Training

Before you even think about stepping outside you should get your cat used to wearing the harness. Put the harness on your cat, making sure it’s snug but not too tight. As soon as the harness is on, before letting go, give her a treat. If she takes a step in the harness, give her a treat, praise her and pat her on the head. Repeat the treating and praising while she continues to move about in her harness. If your cat drops to the ground, wait to see if she moves and give a treat if she does. If she seems frozen in place, or if her way of freaking out is to run and hide under something, remove the harness and give a treat as a peace offering. Try leaving the harness near your cat’s food bowl at mealtime or near her favorite sleeping spot  to get her used to seeing it in places she associates with good things. Try the process all over again in a few days.

After a few days of successful harness training, add the leash. Be sure that you do not apply any pressure. Once your cat is used to the leash, you can pick her up and teach her that you will be on the other end of the leash. Gently apply pressure to the leash and call your cat to you. Praise her when she responds. Eventually, she will become used to following you when she is on her leash.

To familiarize your cat with walking around on a leash, start slow, take baby steps forward and expect setbacks. Cats do not do well with negative correction, so treating them like a dog on a leash will not be effective. Instead, praise your cat when he does what you want and ignore her when she does not. Although you can teach your cat to tolerate a leash, don’t expect her to consistently heel on command.

Never tie your cat’s leash to something and leave her outside, even for a minute. If something spooks her, she could get tangled in the leash. If she’s threatened by another animal or even a person, she can’t get away.

The easiest way to teach your cat to use a leash is to start when she is a kitten around eight to ten weeks old. Once your cat learns to walk on a leash she can enjoy the great outdoors safely.