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Little Miss Hiss

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
hello, i'm new on this forum and new to kitties too. i adopted a lovely 1 year old female tabby 3 weeks ago from the SPCA who warned she hisses and was not doing well in the shelter environment at all. she hid under the sofa mostly for the first week and hissed whenever approached. now she's out and about, eating well and loves to be petted to no end so long as she's on her chair or jumps up to the sofa. BUT, she continues to hiss when I pass her chair, or enter the room - even after petting for 20 mins. if i leave the sofa and return "Little Miss Hiss" returns too. any suggestions on how to dissuade her from this un-ladylike behaviour?
post #2 of 5
LOL! and welcome
I've been in rescue and re-homeing for a long time now and my little Saba is an abandoned rescue of mine who has turned into a little miss princess....without the hiss, but she has other behaviors that go back to how she was conditioned to communicate at a young age. I surmise your little girl was probably from a large litter and/or her hissing is a stress-response. How wonderful that you have managed and integrated her so well! That takes patience and tons of love. You are an angel to do it!

I would guess two things: 1) that her hissing will subside within time with tons of love and security with a capital "S" and 2) You might want to try some mild behavior modification after she has been with you awhile (if not subsided) by starting soft/firm "NO" when she does it...but this type of feedback to a kitty takes daily reinforcement and over a period of time and for what my gut is telling me is a stress response, can backfire. I'd lean to the first, that it will subside within six months to a year.

The most promising thing is that she is young and she still is in that "window" of learning where she might respond to correction and behavior modification at peak, before she gets too set in her ways.

Does she have any other quirks?
I'm sure you will hear from other members as well.
post #3 of 5
Seamus was very, very timid when I first got him, and hissed whenever I found him in his hiding spot. The only reason I would even bother to look for him was because I never, ever saw him out for at least a couple weeks and I wanted to assure he was ok.

He had a few good hiding spots under the bed, in the closet, and a few I still don't know how he managed (under a dresser!) When he was in hiding, I would completely ignore him... within weeks he was curious about where he was living, and I would give him his space when he explored. Then he would sit on a dining room chair under the table, which gave him the view he wanted of everything around him but kept me away. A few times I attempted to get close, and he hissed, so I just let him be... within a few weeks, he got a little more comfortable and would sit on a pillow near the couch when I was on the couch. I would play with him with a dangling toy and give him treats, but again, never too close... he was my first cat too, so it was all trial and error, and if I do adopt another cat, I'm somewhat inclined to take in another special case like his because I learned I have the patience for it. Eventually, he got the hint that I was nurturing and not harmful and now, you'd never know he was who he was two years ago... he looks for cuddles and gets mad when I'm not right there.

My best advice, just be patient, stay out of her way when she's in a mood. The upside, she comes for petting and kind of knows you're ok... (took my boy 6 months to even let me pet him) She's still figuring out whether or not you're ok, her trust isn't 100% yet. It seems her hiss is the warning "Don't come near me right now!" Talk softly and soothe her from a distance when she gets like that... I talked to Seamus a lot in the beginning, and when I talked, he responded to my voice by coming closer each time. She just needs reassurance that you're ok all the time, not just when she wants to be pet... don't get discouraged, she'll get there.
post #4 of 5
The biggest thing is to let her become comfortable in the house. Hissing is the only way she can let you know that she is uncomfortable and stressed. Allow her to approach you on her terms. When she is hiding, you can sit in the room and just talk softly to her. Have a wand tool handy and play with her to bring her out of her shell.

That she allows petting is great. Now it will take time for her to trust you more. And when she does, it will be one of your more satisfying moments of your life.
post #5 of 5
Bless you for adopting this little one! I'm sure that once she becomes comfortable and secure in her new home that her hissing will subside. Have you tried adding a Comfort Zone w/ Feliway diffuser to your home? That might help some. Also, do some of the things that you would do when adopting a scaredy cat. Sit on the floor and read to them, play soft classical music, try to encourage play by using an interactive toy like DaBird, and if she'll let you, try brushing her. All of these things will encourage her to bond with you.

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