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Why Does My Cat Hiss at My Nephew? (Dangerous?)

If your cat is hissing at your nephew it may be stressing you out and leaving you wondering why this is happening…

Why does my cat hiss at my nephew? 

Your cat may hiss at your nephew for several reasons like being pet too long, roughhousing, under-stimulation as a kitten, or simply approaching their personal space. Pet owners should understand that hisses are an entirely normal way to express behavior, however, they should still be taken with caution.

So, now you know. But, what should you do when this happens? How can you prevent it? Why would your cat chase your nephew? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

3 top reasons why your cat may hiss at your nephew  

A cat hissing.

A cat hissing.

01. Overstimulation 

Hissing is a tell-tale sign that your furry feline has grown tired of socializing, this does not necessarily mean that either of your two playful mates are not getting along. Your cat may be tired of being pet or held. 

02. Under-stimulation 

Some cats were not socialized enough at a young age, and this can cause them to hiss at new faces. A lack of socialization leads to increasingly poor social skills, even more so in their adult life. This can be seen in hissing, swatting, and a lack of physical contact. 

03. Roughhousing 

If your cat hides, this is most likely because they feel threatened by your nephew’s actions. Maybe they have been too aggressive or unintentionally rough with your cat.  

Often, children do not realize the strength behind their touch and unless you teach them how to be around cats. 

What should you do when your cat hisses at your nephew? 

Never punish your cat for hissing at your nephew, instead, separate the playful pair and give your cat space until they have cooled down. Cats are naturally defensive animals, and you may notice they go into a defensive stance while hissing and often hide afterward.  

Giving your cat their space is the same thing as taking a step back from an argument. With enough time, they will cool down!  

When your cat is calm, coax them out with food or treats. This will let them know that you mean peace and not war! 

How can I prevent my cat from hissing at my nephew?  

You should never stop your cat from hissing but you can prevent it! Hissing is a cat’s way of vocalizing discomfort. Could you imagine if we did not have warning signs before our cats began clawing at us? Ouch! 

Luckily, by learning how we make them feel uncomfortable, we can prevent them from feeling this way and stop their need to hiss! 

01. Determine the cause of the hissing 

If you want to prevent your cat from hissing, you will first need to find the root of the issue. It is not as easy as you think, either. Especially when it comes to your cat and your nephew! 

02. Evaluate your discipline technique  

It is crucial to pay close attention to your disciplining techniques and ensure that you are not coming off aggressive to your ferocious friend. Never partake in disciplining behaviors that involve: 

  • Physical punishing 
  • Yelling at your cat 
  • Throwing things at your cat 
  • Squirting liquids at your cat 
  • Discipling for hissing 

Keep your cat socialized  

Hissing can be a natural response to inadequate social stimulation so give your cat daily socialization to let them know they are loved. If you already know that your cat is shy, it can be helpful to introduce your cat slowly. 

03. Set up a safe space for your cat to hide

A cat peeping.

A cat peeping.

Cats like to hide which is why setting up a safe, unmoving area to retreat to is crucial for cats. This fulfills their primal instinct to hide in a cave and can comfort your curious kitty. It can be as simple as a cardboard box or as complex as a store-bought cat cave! 

04. Teach your nephew proper cat etiquette  

Whether your nephew is barely walking, or they are late in their twenties, understanding cat etiquette is an important part of forming positive relationships. After all, if a cat is not comfortable with you then they will vocalize it, literally! 

Be sure to teach your nephew these important cat rules: 

  • Pet cats gently 
  • Do not poke cats 
  • Do not pick up cats (let them do this later since a startled cat can be traumatizing) 
  • Never corner a cat 
  • Do not pull a cat’s tails, whiskers, or fur 
  • Use toys to play with cats and not your hands. 

Why does my cat chase my nephew? 

Chasing is playful behavior, not aggressive, so if you see your cat chasing your nephew do not worry! You should watch your cat closely and make sure they keep their claws in! If the claws come out, that is a sign that they are no longer playing, and things have gotten serious. 

How long will it take for my cat to stop hissing at my nephew? 

How long it will take for your cat to stop hissing ultimately depends on their reason for hissing, how old your cat is, and how long it usually takes them to accommodate to new situations. For instance, moving to new places, introducing new pets or furniture to the house, meeting unfamiliar faces, etc.  

If your pet is good at meeting new people, it may take just minutes for them to adjust but if your cat is socially deprived then it might take a long time to accommodate. Each cat is different so do not stress! 

What should you do if your nephew keeps messing with your cat? 

If your nephew is purposely messing with your cat, that may mean they do not understand the relationship between pets and humans.  you should ask him to stop or inform his parents so they can take the proper precautions.  

This aggressive behavior is not uncommon in teenagers if they did not grow up with pets or have experienced trauma. Addressing their trauma in a healthy way with the help of a professional like a pediatrician or school counselor can be very helpful to your nephew’s problem! 

You may also try teaching your nephew to interact with cats in healthier ways like using toys and avoiding playing with their hands. 

What should I do if my nephew’s cat hates me? 

You may think your nephew’s cat hates you, but you are probably just misinterpreting your cat’s body language which can be absurdly loud and overwhelmingly unclear!

If you are trying to form a bond with your nephew’s cat there are a few things you can do like feeding it, giving them treats, not walking out of their range of vision, avoiding staring at them, and never forcing them into your arms or lap. 

Many cats are height sensitive and according to nature believe the higher, the better. Therefore, it can be helpful to approach your cat when they are on their cat podium or while squatting down at a low level. 

Should your nephew try to pick up your cat? 

Kids have a difficult time listening to directions, even in their teenage years which is why you should teach them the rules of handling cats and when it is and is not appropriate to pick up cats.  

Some cats are not okay with being picked up and can severely hurt children of all ages (0-18). You should consider the temperament of your cat. Do they typically like being picked up? Are they sensitive around other people? What do they do when they want to get down? Does your nephew know how to handle a cat? 

If you are comfortable with the answers to those questions, then you should set guidelines with your nephew that they agree to. A great rule of thumb is “direct supervision”. Unless a child is under your direct supervision and has explicit permission from you, then you should tell them to avoid picking up your cat! 

How do cats choose their favorite person? 

Cats bond with their ‘favorite’ person for several reasons including past trauma, smell, who feeds them in the morning, the amount of socializing together, and more. Many people also say that “a cat choosing you is based on fate”. At the end of the day, it’s up to you!  

If you are trying to improve your relationship with your cat, you should start being the only one to feed them! By feeding them you are associating yourself as their provider which is your best way at forming a parental bond with your feline friend. 

Why does my cat love me but hiss at others? 

Cats form closer bonds with some people for a few reasons.  


Overcoming trauma together is a major factor in why your cat may hiss at others and not you. The number one reason cats bond with one human but hiss at others is because they were not socialized early enough as kittens and are given time by their owners late in life. 

When you take the time to form a bond with a traumatized cat, like a feral, then you are letting this cat know that they are worth the time. Usually, these cats will take longer to socialize and bond with, however, because these connections are so strong, they are the ones who hiss and spout


Cats hate change. It does not matter if you are bringing a new piece of furniture into your house, a new friend, or a new smell. These pets absolutely hate change and will make faces, noises, and even throw up over change. 

A new face in the house is especially terrifying. They start thinking endless streams of thoughts which leads to constant stress! To avoid change it is best to avoid it. 


Some cats have been known to act territorially over their owners. This happens most often in single pet households or in homes with a single owner where you can form very intimate relationships with your pet. Bringing someone in to disrupt this environment, especially another animal, can be very stressful to your cat!  

Lindsey Browlingdon