A hissing kitten is indeed a frustrating concept. On one hand, the little one seems so vulnerable, innocent and cuddly. However, in reality, he probably just wants you to leave him alone -- stat. Hissing is common in fixed and unfixed cats alike, although neutering may reduce it slightly.
The ASPCA indicates that, post-neutering, male cat temperaments generally see significant improvement. With pediatric neutering of a young kitten, this may be especially valid -- the cat may never even have had the change to develop hormonally driven processes. Neutering a cat usually eliminates -- or at least minimizes -- aggressive tomcat behavior, hissing being just one example. A neutered kitten likely is more gentle, mellow and docile than his unfixed counterparts, although it varies by individual.
If a hissing kitten was just recently neutered and is of reproductive maturity -- over 6 months old or so -- his hissing could indeed be related to hormones. Post-neutering, it usually can take a couple of months for hormonal urges to completely go away. It simply doesn't happen overnight, as convenient as that might sound. If your wee kitten is hissing at another tomcat, it could be due to territorial conflict -- classic male feline style.
If your fluffball is feeling angry or threatened about something, his hissing could be a sign he is indeed ready and prepared to physically attack -- whether a person or another animal. Look out for other signs that the kitten is in aggression mode -- think narrow pupils, growling and an arched back. Allow this kitty to cool off -- stay away from him for a while.
If a neutered kitten is hissing, it could also just mean the poor thing is scared senseless. Perhaps you brought a new, larger cat into your home, and Junior doesn't like it one bit. Pay attention to other telling indications that the kitten might be terrified, including pinned-back ears, exposed teeth and a stiff body. Whenever you notice physical signs that a kitten is either frightened or angry, be safe and stay away for him for a while. Like people, kittens sometimes need space, too.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Understanding Feline Language
- ASPCA: Learning to Interpret Your Cat's Language
- ASPCA: Cat Vocalizations
- ASPCA: Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet
- The Humane Society of the United States: Understanding Your Feline Friend
- Arizona Humane Society: Feline Body Language
- University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine: Early Spay/Neuter
- Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images