Anyone who has ever witnessed a visceral deathmatch between two angry cats is intimately aware of the blood curdling noises the cute little animals are able to create. Besides the demonically drawn out “Mrrrroww” that emanates from the very bowels of Hell itself, when a cat feels threatened, they always turn to the tried and true hiss.
Lots of animals make this noise when in the throes of battle, but why? Why is a sudden rush of moist air from such a small creature so frightening to other creatures that cats use it time and time again?
It turns out that when a cat pushes its ears down, bares its fangs, squints its slivered eyes and hisses, it closely resembles another animal that is naturally feared and avoided by most predators: the snake. And apparently the resemblance is completely intentional.
Cats, like many other animals, from butterflies to birds, instinctively employ the art of mimicry in order to best defend themselves from attack. Just like David Blaine in Las Vegas, a cornered cat relies on deception and misdirection in order to avoid being destroyed by its audience, and since most animals have a natural fear of venomous snakes, a sudden hiss accompanied by a spray of saliva coming from a head that resembles the shape of a python’s will cause even the most determined and bloodthirsty hunter to think twice.
So the next time you piss off your kitty and it hisses at you, it’s not just showing its disapproval. It’s pretending to be something that can kill you.