Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Why cats hiss
Animal behaviour has been studied for years, yet there isn't always a consensus on why animals do certain things. There are many thoughts about why cats hiss, something that their owners have tried to explain time and again.
Most cats growl or hiss when angered or in danger, which serves to warn the offending party. If the warning is not heeded, a more or less serious attack may follow. Some may engage in nipping behavior or batting with their paws, either with claws extended or retracted. With cats who are improperly socialised and do not know their own strength, this can result in inadvertent damage to human skin. Like any injury, cat scratches can become infected.
Cats are also known to make chirping or chattering noises when observing prey, or as a means of expressing interest in an object to nearby humans. When directed at out-of-reach prey, it is unknown whether this is a threatening sound, an expression of frustration, or an attempt to replicate a bird-call (or replicate the call of a bird's prey).
Whereas this conduct was originally viewed as the feline equivalent of song, recent animal behaviorists have come to believe this noise is a "rehearsal behavior" in which it anticipates or practices the killing of prey, because the sound usually accompanies a biting movement similar to the one they use to kill their prey (the "killing bite" which saws through the victim's neck vertebrae).
Cats in close contact with humans use vocalization more frequently than cats who live in the wild. Adult cats in the wild rarely vocalize; they use mostly body language and scent to communicate.
Although research continues, like humans, different cats with different personalities do things for different reason.
cat hiss, animal communication,
Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Pirate's Cove, The Amboy Times, The Random Yak, Big Dog's Weblog, and High Desert Wanderer, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.