My cats don’t hiss a great deal, except for Cammie. That’s probably to the household’s credit, as hissing denotes some form of disapproval, though its degree depends on the cat. But each animal also hisses in a different way.
Cammie is the obvious example among my beasts. She has always used hissing for a number of reasons. She will use it if threatened - or thinks she is threatened. This comes with the hideous grimace, the flattened ears, the narrowed eyes. She uses this only against other cats, though once upon a time, she used it against people, too, including me. The princess reminds me of Tungsten, the way she hisses in extremis. I used to tell the orange one that hissing made her look quite unattractive. I think that miffed her.
But Cammie also hisses to show that she is displeased. She doesn’t really care for being picked up, but will tolerate it, if I pet her while she's in my arms, or show her a view out the window that she doesn’t usually see. When I put her down, however, she throws a hiss over her shoulder at me as she walks away. It is not unfriendliness; I’m just being told off. These expressions of annoyance are rarely accompanied by facial distortion.
Renn’s hiss is interesting. When he is angry or annoyed, such as when I am trying to cut his claws, he expresses it with a whining groan that start high and drops until it is almost a growl. He does hiss, however. It is merely an opening of the mouth to allow sound to issue. There is no evil look on his face, no violence conveyed by image. Imagine a large man standing apathetically still and simply stating, “I will hurt you,” in a plain monotone, and that’s how my big boy’s hiss comes across.
Tucker is rather unfortunate in his hissing, as his best seems to be a kind of throaty, saliva-spotted hawking sound, similar to that made by a young child trying to speak German with a mouth full of mashed potatoes. It is not intimidating. It's a baby ewok attempting to curse his nannie. Fortunately, the roly poly one does not become upset enough to unleash his rage too often; I have heard it vented only against the odd intruder cat, from behind the safety of a window.
I’ve left Josie to the last because I cannot recall ever hearing my Chubs hiss. She is quite an easy-going cat, and though she does become upset, she vocalises her complaints as whiney inarticulation, like an old woman shaking her fist at smart-alecky young ’uns. It is quite unfeline. But then, whatever a cat does is feline, by definition. Josie’s felinic anger is just a bit different.
So even in its fury, irritation, fear and exasperation, each cat shows that it is unique. It is those examples of uniqueness that make my life interesting. Even if I get told off now and then.