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Why Do Cats Purr, Hiss, & Spit?

That “purring” sound that cats make can be traced back to when they were kittens. This sound is what kittens make when they need to communicate to their mother that they are content.  You will notice that your cat purrs when being pet and rubbed in a caressing manner.  As kittens, this was their way of letting mom know that everything is fine and that they were happy.

Another reason why cats make a purring sound is to alert their nest of kittens as they approach them. Why does a mother cat need to do this? Well it reassures the little kittens that it is their mom and not an enemy. Of course today's domesticated cat and its litter does not need to worry about real danger from outside animals, but this behavior are in a cat's genes that trace back to their ancestors.

Older cats will sometimes purr if they want to play with other cats. It is their way of saying “Hey you, please come play with me”. And because purring is a non-aggressive approach, another cat will not confuse this as troublesome and threatening behavior. Adult cats may also purr when approaching a more dominant cat that they want to befriend or let it be known that they are submissive and will not start any trouble. It is more of a precautionary move on their part to soothe potential aggression.

Cats That Hiss

Another familiar sound that cats are known for is the way they hiss. Unlike purring, hissing tends to be on side of aggression and relates to threats of danger or protection. Hissing is a form of cat expression that affects a cat's sense of sight, touch, as well as hearing.

When a cat hisses, their mouths are open slightly – about halfway. Their upper lip gets drawn back and their faces get extremely wrinkled up. While doing this, their breath gets expelled so much that the air pressure can be felt a few feet away. When a cat is facing this hissing sound from another cat, you can see why it would give the immediate warning signs of danger.

Cats That Spit

We now come to cat spitting. When a cat spits it is sending a signal to be threatening or to give off a warning to potential danger.  Spitting almost always is followed up by the cat actually stomping its paws on the ground. Although this behavior looks as though the cat is ready to fight, it is more of a bluff in hopes that the enemy will be intimidated enough to run away. And in most cases, the cat who reaches the point of spitting and paw stomping does indeed accomplish the goal of  running off the enemy.