Advice & Tips
how to prevent your cat spitting hissing

How to Prevent Your Cat Spitting or Hissing

Written by Ryan Gliozzo


Feeling stressed because your cat won't stop hissing or spitting? Fear not, as our expert article is here to save the day. We run through the reasons why cats display this behaviour and what you can do to stop it.
a cat hissing at his owners hand


Is your cat spitting or hissing? If you're a pet parent, understanding and addressing these defensive behaviours are crucial for creating a harmonious environment at home. Spitting and hissing are defensive sounds that cats exhibit when they feel threatened, stressed, or anxious.
For instance, if your cat is licking you excessively, this could be a sign of stress or seeking comfort, which you can learn more about in our article
‘Why Does My Cat Lick Me?’.

By identifying the underlying causes and implementing preventive measures, you can help your cat feel safe and secure.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind cat spitting, provide preventive measures to avoid triggering these behaviours, discuss when to consult professionals, and offer tips for effective cat communication. Let's ensure a calm and happy atmosphere for you and your feline companion!

Key takeaways:

  • Spitting and hissing are defensive behaviours exhibited by cats when they feel threatened, stressed, or anxious.

  • Cats may spit due to fear, territorial and dominance issues, or stress and anxiety.

  • Creating a stress-free environment, maintaining a consistent routine, and strategic placement of essentials can prevent cat spitting.

  • Intervening when your cat shows intense variation in behaviour is important, especially when it comes to distinguishing mating behaviour from aggression.

  • Socialisation and behavioural training are essential in preventing cat spitting and hissing.

Understanding the reasons behind cat spitting

a cat hissing behind a door

Cats may spit as a response to fear, territory and dominance issues, as well as stress and anxiety.

Exploring fear as a trigger for spitting

Fear can be a significant trigger for cat spitting. Various factors such as unfamiliar environments, loud noises, or traumatic experiences can induce fear in cats, leading to defensive behaviour like spitting.

Assessing territory and dominance issues in felines

Territory and dominance issues among cats can also contribute to spitting behaviour. When cats feel their territory is being invaded or challenged by another cat, they may resort to spitting as a way to establish dominance and protect their territory.

Identifying stress and anxiety as contributing factors

Stress and anxiety can play a role in cat spitting incidents. Changes in routine or environment, as well as other stressors, can cause cats to become anxious, leading to defensive behaviours like spitting.

The following list explores potential triggers for cat spitting and examples of why cats may do it:

  • Fear: Unfamiliar environments, loud noises, traumatic experiences

  • Territory and dominance issues: Invasion of territory, challenging another cat

  • Stress and anxiety: Changes in routine or environment, other stressors

Preventative measures to avoid triggering your cat

a woman in a blue jumper hugging a black fluffy cat

Cats are sensitive creatures that can easily become stressed and exhibit unwanted behaviour such as spitting.

By taking preventive measures, you can create a stress-free environment for your feline friend and minimise the chances of cat spitting. Here are some key strategies to consider:

Cultivating a stress-free environment

Creating a stress-free environment for your cat is essential in preventing spitting. Cats require a place where they can feel safe and secure.

Provide hiding places, such as cosy beds or covered crates, where your cat can retreat to when feeling overwhelmed or threatened.
Vertical spaces, such as cat trees or shelves, allow cats to perch and observe their surroundings, promoting a sense of security. Additionally, designate quiet areas where your cat can relax undisturbed.

Ensuring routine and consistency in your cat's life

Cats thrive on routine and consistency. Establish a regular feeding schedule and stick to it. Feed your cat at the same time every day to reduce anxiety and promote a sense of security.

Consistency extends beyond feeding times – ensure that playtime, grooming, and other activities occur at regular intervals. This helps your cat anticipate and feel comfortable with their daily routine, minimising stress levels.

Strategic placement of food bowl and litter box

The strategic placement of essential cat items can help prevent territorial conflicts among multiple cats, reducing the likelihood of spitting. Place food bowls and litter boxes in separate areas of your home to give each cat their designated space. This helps prevent resource guarding and promotes a peaceful coexistence. Additionally, ensure that litter boxes are easily accessible and in quiet, low-traffic areas to provide cats with a sense of privacy and security.

Intervening when your cat shows intense variation in behaviour

a black cat hissing at a jack russell terrier

When your cat exhibits intense variation in behaviour, it's crucial to intervene promptly to ensure their well-being and maintain a harmonious environment. This section will focus on distinguishing between mating behaviour and aggression and providing appropriate responses to frustrated or angry excitement.

Distinguishing between mating behaviour and aggression

Cat mating behaviour can sometimes be mistaken for aggression, causing confusion for pet owners. It's important to understand the differences to respond appropriately.

Mating behaviour includes vocalisations, such as yowling, rubbing against objects, and displaying a receptive body posture. Aggression, on the other hand, involves aggressive body language, hissing, growling, and sudden attacks.

Appropriate responses to frustrated or angry excitement

Responding to frustrated or angry cat behaviour requires patience and understanding. Here are some effective strategies to address these behaviours:

  • Provide outlets for physical and mental stimulation: Engaging your cat in interactive play sessions and offering puzzle toys can help release pent-up energy and reduce frustration.

  • Redirect the cat's energy: If your cat is exhibiting frustration or anger, redirect their attention to appropriate activities and rewards. For example, redirecting their focus to a scratching post or offering treats when they display calm behaviour can help manage their emotions.

  • Offer positive reinforcement: Using positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats, praise, or play rewards, can encourage desired behaviours and help your cat associate positive experiences with appropriate actions.

By understanding your cat's behaviour and responding effectively, you can help them navigate their emotions and prevent negative behaviours from escalating.

Socialisation and behavioural training for your cat

a cat with his back arched up standing outside

Proper socialisation from an early age plays a crucial role in preventing cat spitting and hissing.

By exposing your cat to various environments, people, and other animals, you can help them feel comfortable and confident in different situations.

This socialisation process teaches cats how to interact appropriately and reduces their susceptibility to stress and anxiety triggers.
Behavioural training techniques are another effective tool for modifying undesirable behaviours and promoting positive interactions.

Positive reinforcement, using treats or praise, can be used to reward desired behaviours and discourage unwanted ones. Clicker training, where a click sound is associated with treats to reinforce desired actions, is also popular among cat owners.

It's important to note that socialisation and behavioural training require patience and consistency. Consistently exposing your cat to new experiences and using positive reinforcement techniques will help them learn and develop the desired behaviours.

When to consult a professional: behaviourists and veterinarians

a black cat stood outdoors hissing

Sometimes, cat spitting and hissing can be signs of underlying pain or medical conditions. It's essential for pet owners to be vigilant and recognise the signs of distress in their cats.

Knowing when to seek professional help from behaviourists and veterinarians can make a significant difference in managing cat behaviour and ensuring their well-being.

Spotting signs of distress from pain or medical conditions

Cats may display various signs when experiencing distress from pain or medical conditions. It's important to be observant and look out for any changes in their behaviour and physical condition.

Here are some signs that may indicate your cat is in distress:

  • Excessive vocalisation such as crying, yowling, or growling

  • Decreased appetite or refusing to eat

  • Lethargy or lack of energy

  • Aggression or unusual aggression towards humans or other pets

  • Changes in litter box habits, such as urinating or defecating outside the litter box

  • Excessive grooming or licking a particular area of the body

  • Visible signs of pain or discomfort, such as limping or difficulty in jumping

If you notice any of these signs, it's essential to consult a professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Ignoring the signs may lead to worsening of the condition and further behavioural issues.

For further insights into maintaining your cat's health and well-being, consider exploring
cat insurance, which can provide peace of mind and support for various health-related needs.

Understanding when professional help is necessary

While certain cat behaviours can be managed at home with preventive measures and training, there are instances when professional help is necessary. Consider seeking assistance from behaviourists and veterinarians in the following situations:

1. If your cat's spitting or hissing is frequent, intense, or escalating in aggression

2. If your cat's behaviour is causing significant disruption to their daily life and your household

3. If you've tried multiple interventions but haven't seen any improvement in your cat's behaviour

4. If you suspect that your cat's spitting or hissing is due to underlying medical issues

5. If your cat's distress is causing you significant stress or affecting your emotional well-being

Professional behaviourists and veterinarians have the expertise to assess your cat's behaviour, identify any underlying medical issues, and develop an effective treatment plan to address the problem.

Analysing cat communication: from low-intensity sounds to loud hisses

a close up of a cat hissing

Cats have a unique way of communicating with their owners and other cats through a range of vocalisations. From gentle purrs to hisses and everything in between, understanding these sounds can provide valuable insights into a cat's emotions and intentions.

When it comes to cat communication, not all sounds are created equal. Some vocalisations are low-intensity, while others are loud and more forceful. By paying attention to these different sounds and their accompanying body language, pet owners can decode the messages behind their cat's vocalisations and respond appropriately.

Low-intensity sounds, such as soft meows, chirps, and trills, are often used by cats to greet their owners or express contentment. These gentle sounds indicate a relaxed and friendly state of mind. Cats may emit these sounds when they want attention, are seeking affection, or are simply happy to see their human companions.

On the other end of the spectrum, loud cat hisses are a warning sign of discomfort, fear, or aggression. Hissing is an instinctive defensive behaviour that cats use when they feel threatened or stressed. It is important to note that hissing is a clear indication that the cat wants to be left alone and should not be approached.

However, it's essential to consider the context and body language associated with the hissing. A cat may hiss when confronted with a new and unfamiliar situation, when faced with a perceived threat, or when protecting their territory.

Observing the cat's overall posture and tail position can provide valuable clues to their level of anxiety or aggression.

By understanding the different sounds and their meanings, pet owners can better respond to their cat's communication signals. Recognising when a cat is expressing happiness, seeking attention, or signalling discomfort can help create a stronger bond and a more harmonious relationship between humans and their feline companions.

Utilising appropriate tools and toys to minimise stressful encounters

a ginger cat hissing at a kitten

Providing cats with the right tools and toys is essential in creating a stress-free environment and minimising instances of spitting and hissing. Interactive toys are a great way to engage cats and redirect their energy, helping to curb extreme excitement that may lead to aggressive behaviour.

These toys can simulate hunting and play, providing mental and physical stimulation for cats.

Engaging cats with interactive toys to curb extreme excitement

Interactive toys come in various forms, each designed to captivate a cat's interest and promote active play. Some popular interactive toy options include:

  • Wand toys: These toys feature a pole with an enticing attachment, such as feathers or bells, which can be moved around to mimic prey. Cats can pounce and chase, engaging their natural hunting instincts.

  • Treat dispensers: Treat dispensing toys require cats to work for their treats, providing mental stimulation as they figure out how to release the rewards. These toys can help redirect a cat's energy and keep them occupied.

  • Puzzle toys: Puzzle toys challenge cats to solve problems to access hidden treats or toys. These toys provide mental stimulation and encourage cats to use their problem-solving skills.

Options for environmental enrichment for domestic cats

In addition to interactive toys, environmental enrichment plays a vital role in keeping cats mentally and physically stimulated. By offering a variety of environmental enrichment options, you can help prevent boredom and reduce stress in your cat. Some examples include:

  • Scratching posts: Scratching posts provide an outlet for cats to engage in their natural scratching behaviour. They help satisfy a cat's need to scratch and stretch, promoting healthy claw maintenance.

  • Puzzle feeders: Puzzle feeders are designed to make cats work for their food by providing a challenge to access their meals. These feeders can help prevent overeating and keep cats mentally engaged during mealtime.

  • Window perches: Window perches allow cats to observe the outside world, providing entertainment and mental stimulation. Cats can watch birds or other wildlife, keeping them engaged and entertained.

By incorporating these tools and toys into your cat's environment, you can help minimise stress and create a positive and enriching experience for your feline companion.


Developing a long-term strategy to foster a calm and happy cat is essential for pet owners who want to prevent cat hissing and spitting incidents.

By understanding the reasons behind these behaviours and implementing the recommended measures, you can create a harmonious and stress-free environment for your feline companion.

Start by taking preventive measures such as creating a stress-free environment. Provide hiding places, vertical spaces, and quiet areas for your cat to retreat to when they feel threatened or anxious. Maintaining a consistent routine and feeding schedule can also help reduce stress and promote a sense of security.

Socialisation and behavioural training also play a crucial role in preventing cat spitting and hissing. Ensuring that your cat is exposed to various situations from an early age can help them feel comfortable and confident. Use positive reinforcement techniques and consider enlisting the help of a professional behaviourist when necessary.

By implementing these strategies and understanding your cat's needs, you can mitigate cat hissing and spitting incidents, fostering a calm and happy feline companion who feels safe and loved in their home.

It's also vital to pay attention to signs that might indicate health issues, such as those related to other medical problems such as our content on
Cat Weepy Eye: Causes and Treatment and Cat Ear Infection: Signs & Treatment as well as recognising signs of Cat Urinary Infections. Our expert guides can help you learn more about overall cat health.

How can I prevent my cat from spitting or hissing?

Understanding the reasons behind cat spitting and hissing can help prevent these behaviours. Creating a stress-free environment, maintaining a consistent routine, and providing appropriate outlets for physical and mental stimulation are key preventive measures. Socialisation and behavioural training can also help address these behaviours.

What are the reasons behind cat spitting?

Cats may spit due to fear, territorial and dominance issues, and stress or anxiety. Factors such as unfamiliar environments, loud noises, traumatic experiences, changes in routine or environment can trigger these behaviours.

How can I create a stress-free environment for my cat?

To create a stress-free environment, provide hiding places, vertical spaces, and quiet areas for your cat to retreat to. Maintain a consistent routine and feeding schedule. Place food bowls and litter boxes strategically to prevent territorial conflicts.

How should I respond when my cat shows intense variation in behaviour?

It's essential to distinguish between mating behaviour and aggression. Providing outlets for physical and mental stimulation, redirecting the cat's energy, and using positive reinforcement can help address behaviours related to frustrated or angry excitement.

How can I socialise and train my cat to prevent spitting and hissing?

Proper socialisation from an early age can help cats feel comfortable and confident in various situations. Behavioural training techniques such as positive reinforcement and clicker training can be used to modify undesirable behaviours and promote positive interactions.

When should I consult a professional about my cat's spitting and hissing?

If your cat's spitting and hissing is accompanied by signs of distress or if the behaviours persist despite your efforts, it may be necessary to consult a professional such as a behaviourist or veterinarian. Behaviourists can provide expert guidance on managing cat behaviour, while veterinarians can address any potential medical issues.

How do cats communicate through vocalisations?

Cats communicate through a variety of vocalisations, from low-intensity sounds to loud hisses. Understanding the meanings behind these different sounds, along with observing body postures and context, can help decipher your cat's communication signals.

What tools and toys can help minimise stressful encounters for cats?

Interactive toys can engage cats and redirect their energy, curbing extreme excitement that may lead to spitting or hissing. Environmental enrichment, such as scratching posts, puzzle feeders, and window perches, can also help satisfy a cat's natural instincts and keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

What is a long-term strategy for fostering a calm and happy cat?

Fostering a calm and happy cat requires preventive measures, socialisation, behavioural training, and appropriate interventions. By understanding the reasons behind cat spitting and hissing and implementing the recommended strategies, you can create a harmonious and stress-free environment for your feline companion.

Waggel Pet Insurance

Need more help? You're in luck if you're a Waggel Pet Insurance member. Along with our excellent coverage, we offer access to a 24/7 online vet to answer all your sticky questions, especially if you need grooming assistance.

Not a member? Why not get a quote now and cover your furry friend for a range of illnesses, all while enjoying our amazing perks and rewards.

Want more like this?

Get updates from us with helpful info, advice, answers to frequently asked questions and much more.

By joining, you agree to marketing emails. Unsubscribe anytime. See our privacy policy.

Share this post