Having “invisible cat” problems? Is your cat nowhere to be seen? Wondering if and how to get your cat to come out of hiding? There are many possible reasons for your cat to be out of sight. Let’s go over different situations where a cat may be hiding and see what – if anything at all – should be done about that.
When your cat is hiding and it’s really ok
Hiding is a perfectly normal behavior if you’re a cat. When cats play, they mimic aspects of hunting behavior, and hiding is simply part of stalking prey. That’s one reason why cats love getting into boxes so much – it’s just part of being a cat!
Play behavior – of any kind – provides Kitty with much-needed mental stimulation. Encourage this type of hiding by offering boxes and other hiding places. Don’t stop your cat when he or she is trying to get into a hiding place – as long as it’s safe. Here are 23 funny pictures of cats hiding (or at least trying to!).
Can’t find your cat?
Some cats seem to disappear for long hours. They are simply using their hiding places as a nap spot. You see, cats always patrol their territory. Living indoors, that means cats are constantly searching through every nook and cranny. When they find a spot that’s secluded and hidden, they’re likely to get inside. If it’s comfortable enough, they may just fall asleep.
If that spot is out of sight, you may not be able to find your cat for a while. Calling the cat’s name doesn’t always work. If your cat is fast asleep, even the sound of a can of cat food being opened may not get through to him or her. This can be an unnerving experience when you can’t find your cat anywhere.
What should you do about this?
Whenever you can’t find your cat, actively look for him or her. Learn where these nap spots are and make sure they are safe. Limit access to drawers or closets to avoid getting your cat trapped inside one while you’re away. Make a habit of keeping appliances such as the washer and dryer shut. Even then, always double and triple check appliances before switching them on.
Offer safe alternatives too. If Kitty likes to nap in a closed space, invest in “cat caves”. These cat beds offer a sense of seclusion in a safe manner, and you can place them in quiet areas of your home. Here are 15 awesome cat caves that are practical, beautiful and fun.
When hiding indicates a problem
Sometimes cats hide because they feel uncomfortable. They may be physically unwell or otherwise stressed. Here are some common scenarios and what you can do to help Kitty.
The cat is sick
Many cats respond to pain and illness by finding a quiet place to hide. If you notice your cat is hiding more than usual, suspect a medical problem and talk to your vet. Look for other symptoms such as loss of appetite, litterbox avoidance and any other change in your cat’s routine. Here are 35 signs that your cat may not be feeling well – hiding is one of them and there are more.
Feral cat hiding in a new home
If the new cat is a feral cat, expect a longer hiding period and a more gradual adjustment. Feral cats who are adopted into homes face a long process. They need to get used to the very concept of a home and of enjoying a human’s company. In fact, an older feral cat is probably better off staying feral. As long as there’s a caregiver providing food, shelter and basic medical care (including neutering), the cat is more likely to enjoy life as a feral.
If you are dealing with taming a feral cat or kitten, read this guide first and then share your experiences in our feral cat care forum where members can help you with advice and support.
Hiding after moving into a new home
We all know how stressful a move is for us, the humans. Imagine what it must be like for an unprepared cat! Many cats respond by finding the nearest hiding spot and staying there for a while.
Fortunately, in this case your cat has you to rely on while getting to know the new place, so this is not as stressful as being a newly adopted cat in an unfamiliar environment. Cats usually come out of hiding more quickly when moving to a new home but it can still take a few days for some cats. Read our article about how to move with your cat to a new home in a safe way for some important tips on helping your cat adjust and come out of hiding sooner.
Hiding from strangers
Some cats welcome guests into their home, coming up to them, rubbing against their ankles and asking to be petted. Most cats are more reserved and some prefer no contact with strangers at all. These shy cats often hide whenever someone is at the door. They lay low in another room until the scary strangers leave. Some cats only hide from certain types of guests, usually men or children. Others turn invisible whenever anyone shows up.
The best way to handle these situations is to let the cat be. Take photos of your cat when you’re alone with him and have the guests settle for those. If Kitty prefers to stay out of sight, that’s just fine. If you need more help, here are 10 tips for happy living with a shy cat.
So, how to get a cat to come out of hiding?
Now that we know the reasons why cats hide, it’s clear that in most cases you shouldn’t interfere. A cat that’s healthy and happy in her or his home should be allowed to hide as part of normal cat behavior.
What about cats that hide because they are scared of something? Some amount of hiding can be good for these cats, allowing them to relax. You should generally let them come out of hiding on their own terms and in their own good time. You can try coaxing a cat out with quiet talking and offering treats. If the cat knows you and isn’t too scared, it might even work. If yours is a newly adopted cat, use these tips to help Kitty adjust and hopefully come out of hiding sooner.
Never pull a scared cat out of hiding by force
If your cat is hiding because it’s scared of something – don’t attempt to pull her or him out by force. You’ll only be sending Kitty into panic mode. Even a docile cat can and will use claws and teeth when panicked. Don’t risk your hands and don’t scare your cat even more, as it’s only likely to get him or her to stay in hiding for longer.
Hopefully, you can now tell why your cat is hiding. If you’re still unsure or need more help, ask a question in the cat behavior forum. Our members are always happy to help out!