When my cat was six years old, she hissed at me for the first time. (Prior to this, we had only heard her hiss once—at a friend’s doge!—and never again for six years!) I looked at my husband in shock and then immediately started crying. “She didn’t mean it,” my husband assured me, but it was untrue. I had been jiggling her belly fat, and she was so annoyed with me that she hissed at me to firmly tell me to stop. It was 100 percent my bad. She looked back up at me as if to say, “Are we cool... or?” and it was so precious, I cried even harder.
One of my cat’s favorite games to play is ”hair chew.” The game starts with me absentmindedly running my fingers through my hair as I sit at my keyboard. My cat takes notice and approaches me. There’s always a strand or two of hair that comes loose, and I wrap the ends of the strand around my two index fingers and position the hair directly in front of my cat’s face. She then chews through the hair, and I repeat until we’re out. Last time we played, I said, “Wow. You win. Game over.” She considered this and then hissed at me. I grabbed her mid-hiss to move her off my lap, and she immediately changed her tone from “IT’S NOT OVER TIL I SAY IT’S OVER” to “I’m soweeeeee, mommyyyyy. Don’t be mean.”
I was sitting next to her, and, in an instant, she decided that the situation was not agreeable. She looked up at me, like a smoldering ball of energy, and hissed at me. I scrambled to get out of the danger zone. When I looked back at her, she said she was “just joking” and went to go drink water from her bowl.
When it’s time to retreat for the night, I like to bring my cat from her living room perch to her bedroom perch, because she’s an actual baby. And I like her to be near. One evening, I moved to pick her up, but she rolled onto her back in defense mode—all four claws up and ready. It was risky business, but I attempted to pet her head to show my good-will. She snapped up and hissed at me and then ran away. “Geez, I’m just trying to take you to your comfy tower bed,” I said. I slipped into bed. Moments later, I heard her jump into her comfy tower bed, which was my intention for her all along. I sat up at little to say good night to her, and she slow-blinked at me.
I called her a ‘warm bag of jelly,’ and she hissed at me. (Just kidding, I can’t think of any other times she has hissed at me.)
I think it’s funny that, at six years old, my cat decided, you know what— I hiss now. It’s like me going, "I fist fight people now!" As long as I can read her vibe and have loose hairs to pull from a hair brush, we are chill. She’s my buddy. Sometimes she wants to fight me, but it’s cute—she’s just a cat.