Why Do Cats Growl?

Though cats are typically sweet and cute, they are also quite confusing and mysterious. If you are a cat owner, you’ve probably spent more than one sleepless night, scratching your head trying to figure out why he does what he does- growling/hissing are no exception to this.


Typically, growling and hissing seem like angry sounds- but actually, they are typically indicative of feeling fearful and vulnerable. For example, your cat may growl/hiss when he meets a new, bigger, and unfamiliar cat. Maybe he feels like he needs to put up a defense against a potential predator. This is completely understandable.


In addition to fear, hissing and growling can also be indicative of annoyance. Perhaps you feel like everything is perfectly fine in the world. You’re just spending a nice, cozy evening holding your cat in your lap and watching some television. Suddenly, your cat starts growling and hissing and starts to squirm. He’s not necessarily angry with you- he’s just communicating to you that he has had enough and wants to get down. Don’t take it personally.


In some cases, a cat will let out a growling/hissing sound when they are surprised by something- whether a predator or anyone/anything else they perceive to be a threat to their wellbeing. For example, if a new cat shows up on a cat’s “turf”, he may start to hiss and growl to show that it’s his territory and the new cat better watch out.

Warning Sign

If you ever hear your cat let out a grave, prolonged, deep growl, chances are that he is trying to communicate a serious warning. He will either be communicating to those around him to back away or he may even move in the opposite direction of the perceived threat. If the perceived threat does not retreat from the growl, chances are the teeth and claws may come out next.

The truth is that cats do have some mysterious and confusing behaviors- such as growling and hissing. However, for the most part, they’re really cute and sweet- and make great pets. Though, you must keep in mind that they’re not nearly as needy or loving as dogs can be.