Do caracals hiss to communicate?

Caracal hissing
Caracal hissing. Image in the public domain.
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Yes, caracals hiss to communicate. The sound is a defensive demand signalling ‘piss off’ to put it in the vernacular. And we often see it online because they are a feisty medium-sized wild cat inclined to feel threatened with humans around. In terms of vocalisations, the caracal is like the domestic cat in possessing a basic vocal repertoire which includes:

  • meowing
  • hissing
  • growling
  • spitting
  • purring

There are some other more specialist sounds.

Non-domestic cat sounds made by the caracal

They also gurgle which is a non-domestic cat sound. Another sound that the caracal makes but not the domestic cat is the ‘wah-wah’ sound. Other wild cats make the same sound: puma (mountain lion), lynxes, jaguarundi, serval and Asiatic and African golden cats.

Caracals also make a harsh hissing/barking sound which appears to be a sound to signal ‘piss off’ as it was heard when a strange animal was introduced into a caracal’s enclosure. It may be an emphasised hiss. A female caracal made the same sound when a male tried to mate her. Yes, this sound definitely means ‘go away’ to put it more politely.

Captive caracals in adjacent cages were heard barking at each other. These were probably not the hissing/bark described above. They may have been a relatively friendly close call form of communication.

Why do caracals hiss so much?

People on the internet as asking why caracals hiss so much. The answer must be because they are observing caracals as ‘pets’ in an unsettling human environment where they can feel threatened. They seem to be anxious and on edge. Not much sets them off hissing as a defensive measure.

Video

As I said the caracal hisses or hiss/barks to tell ‘others’ (animals and humans) to piss off. Here is an example. The man in the video was foolish in my view to try and calm their caracal. Far more sensible to simply leave the cat alone to allow them to not feel threatened. This is a pet caracal. Some pet! Not the kind of pet that you want and cruel on the cat. If this cat feels threatened this easily it must happen a lot. That’s cat abuse I’d allege. The cat has quite possibly been placed in an unsuitable environment that causes anxiety. The man thinks that he has a friend. He doesn’t.

RELATED: A word describing a cat sound is an onomatopoeia


These YouTube videos sometimes stop working. I am afraid I can’t control that.

Infographic on caracal description

2 thoughts on “Do caracals hiss to communicate?”

  1. Mike I get Cheezburger daily in my email and and you have to see picture 20 of this poor cat. I really tried not to laugh.

    Reply

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