Does hissing always mean fear or aggression or it can be a part of the play?

Sometimes when playing hide-and-seek or chase games with a kitten, he allows himself to be chased into a corner, and then he turns and hisses. Does it mean we've overdone something, like stayed too close or chased too far, or it is of no concern in such games at all and is a healthy part of them?

Note, these games do not include intentional startling, hurting, holding or carrying him around against his will.

  • Translation of hisss: "I'm going to sink my claws into any part of you that comes within my reach, consider yourself warned". Commented Jan 4, 2014 at 14:41

2 Answers 2


In games, your cat is learning skills that he will use throughout his life. When he accidentally corners himself, it's scary, and he reacts out of fear (by hissing).

As his guardian/playmate, if you respect his hiss and back off until he can uncorner himself and show interest in playing again, then he will learn that his verbal warning is effective. In the future, he will continue to use this warning (and not launch straight into a fight).

At the same time, he should also learn how not to corner himself (from these experiences), so you will see this happen less frequently as he grows up.


It depends largely on the personality of the kitten: does he get intimidated or scared easily in other situations? Is he trying to continue the game shortly after being cornered or has he lost interest?

To me it sounds like he just gets caught up in the game. Similar to little kids screaming when playing chasing games. Just make sure you only keep him cornered for a moment and then leave him a way out so he can easily slip away when he get uncomfortable.

  • I have to say I don't know, and thus can't upvote (or downvote either), because in all my life with cats I've not played such a game where I had been hissed at. When a cat hiss at another cat, to me it sounds like saying "Get lost, this is not fun anymore." Just can't be sure if that really is so. Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 20:23
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    or the his is the first warning he correctly interpreted, many other warning signs (swishing tail, ears back) are not immediately clear to us lowly humans Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 11:48

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