Most people that share their homes with cats are pretty attached to the sweet, affectionate little creatures. It can be disappointing when a kitty hides instead of socializing, but hiding is a perfectly normal behavior. New cat owners shouldn't be alarmed if a newly adopted kitty immediately dives into a hiding place. However, cat owners should pay close attention if a cat suddenly starts hiding more frequently or displays other unusual behaviors.
Cats are notorious for squeezing themselves into small spaces. They like enclosed spaces that help them feel safe. Don't be surprised if you find your kitty curled up in tissue boxes or shoes. Cat owners have plenty of stories related to strange hiding spots in plastic bags, suitcases, or garbage bins. Some pet owners have found their furry darlings sleeping in kettles and skillets left out on the stove or countertop. Sometimes cats look a little silly when they stick their heads under towels or blankets and decide that's good enough because they can't see the potential threat.
Your cat may hide simply because they want to. Sometimes cats just want a quiet, comfortable spot to sleep. This is especially true in homes with children or other animals. Most cats are light sleepers, which makes it hard to relax and rest in a noisy environment. A cat may sleep in a favorite hiding place every day or switch between different spots.
Hiding can be a strategic move in response to something unexpected. Unfamiliar people or animals in the house or an abrupt change in the environment, such as new furniture or remodeling, can be alarming to cats. A startled cat may run to a hiding spot with a view of the surrounding area. This gives the cat a chance to evaluate the situation from a protected space.
Cats hide when they feel anxious. The cause of stress may not be immediately apparent because cats are very sensitive to small changes. A sudden change in work hours or the household routine can be upsetting. Your cat may notice strange odors on your clothing or shoes if you interact with another animal outside the home. Even strongly scented soaps or perfume may be enough to send your cat into hiding for a while.
Cats react to frightening situations by hiding. This can be a problem if the animal is too scared to come out. Although common sense seems to indicate that the cat would come out of hiding due to hunger or thirst, this isn't guaranteed. An extremely frightened or nervous animal may stay hidden long enough to become dehydrated. Make sure you keep an eye on a skittish kitty to ensure your pet is okay and comes out of hiding to eat and drink.
It's easy to forget that our adorable bundles of fur are predators with finely honed instincts. Cats try to stay hidden while hunting, so their prey doesn't escape. House cats aren't hunting for survival, but they still have ingrained instincts and skills. Young, energetic cats frequently enjoy hiding under furniture or behind objects so they can ambush other cats. Plenty of cat owners are also targets of planned ambushes.
Cats, and many other animals, try to hide illness and injury. Some cats do seek attention when they don't feel well, but hiding is a very common sign of disease. Schedule an appointment with a vet as soon as possible if your cat starts hiding more often, especially if you also notice decreased appetite and other isolating behaviors.
Sometimes cats aren't trying to hide. They may just want to stay warm or cool. Cats usually like heat, so you may find your cat hiding near a heater or sleeping on top of a furnace vent. A cat may try to find a cool place to rest during hot summer weather, but they're just as likely to lay out in the sun.
If an unspayed female cat starts looking for hiding places, she may be pregnant. Pregnant cats try to find quiet, secluded spaces so they can give birth safely. A mother cat may switch favored hiding places several times near the end of her pregnancy. Some cats also move their kittens frequently after giving birth. This usually happens when the mother cat feels threatened. Moving young kittens frequently increases the risk of an accident, so try to give a nursing mother space and keep people and other animals away from the babies, so the mother doesn't feel anxious.
Although you can't make a cat stop hiding, you can create safe places that fulfill your cat's need to hide and your desire to have a healthy pet. Try sprucing up spaces the cat is already using. Place small blankets or padded mats on shelves or inside nooks and crannies so your cat can sit comfortably. Old pet carriers make good hiding spots too. Cover an old carrier in fabric or another type of soft material, then place the carrier in a secluded area. The cat will probably want to be off the ground, so you can use a table, desk, or stacked pallets to create a base.
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