Cats love to hide in small spaces; it’s cute how they try to fold their chubby body into small boxes. It’s all fun and games until one day you notice that your cat isn’t around, and they don’t respond when you call out to them. While cats love to hide, they love spending time with humans even more.
Your cat won’t just scamper into the deep dark corners of the house and don’t come out for hours for no reason. This behavior usually means that they’re scared, confused, or perhaps even ill. No matter the reason, before you can make them feel better, you have to figure out how to get a cat out of hiding.
Sometimes, getting a cat out of hiding is only a matter of opening up a can of their favorite wet food. Other times, it seems like they have vanished off the face of the earth, and you can’t find them no matter where you look. Whether you prefer to lure your cat out, indulge them in hide and seek and try to discover their favorite hiding locations, or you want a more thorough method to overcome their shyness and get them used to your presence, we’ve got you covered.
We understand your concern as cat parents so we will tell you all about how to get a cat out of hiding. The correct method to get a cat out of hiding depends heavily on the reason why the cat is hiding in the first place. As we consider the two of them inseparable topics, we have segmented this how-to article into five sections based on the main reasons why cats hide. We will explain how to counteract each cause for hiding accordingly.
Why Cats Hide and How to Get Them Out of Hiding
Cats usually hide when they are scared, stressed, or not in good health. If kitty is not in good health, then naturally the only way to stop them from hiding is to take them to the vet so they can recover their full health. If the vet gave your cat a clean bill of health, then you should consider other reasons for their hiding habit and other appropriate countermeasures:
Unlike dogs, cats aren’t usually very sociable around visitors. If there is a sudden new addition to the house—be they temporary or permanent, another human or another pet—it can disturb your cat equally. To cats, the new addition is a threat to them. As a result, they will hide.
Or worse, if your cat is particularly territorial, there are chances that they may start spraying around in the house to mark it as theirs. Here’s how you solve the problem:
To make the cat feel less stressed and uncomfortable, the visitor should sit near the hiding spot and talk to the cat nicely.
Use treats to lure them out. Don’t keep the food or treats so near to the cat that they don’t have to move to get it. Instead, keep the treat at a little distance from their hiding spot so that to get it they would have to come out of their hideout. If the cat comes out to take it, reward him with another one and then another.
You might have noticed that cats touch each other’s nose when they meet and greet each other. When the cat has come out of the hiding and finished the treat, hold your hand out and let the cat scent you.
Touch his nose gently with your fingertip. This interprets to hello in cat language. Your cat may or may not respond to it, but the point is you just made your first hello to them. Expect things to go uphill from there on.
If the cat doesn’t respond well even after several days, the person should rub a towel all over their body and leave it on the floor overnight. The cat may come out to smell it when no one is around.
If the cloth or towel has been peed on, it is a sign that they don’t like you and have not yet accepted your presence in their territory. Be tolerant with the cat. Give them time and affection, and they should come around eventually.
Some cats cannot tolerate loud sounds and abrupt movements. If you have a jumpy cat, you should know that simply the act of getting up from your chair to get something from the kitchen can scare the cat real bad.
When you are trying to tell your cat that everything is okay and that they can come out of their hiding, here’s what you should do:
Try to move gradually and gently. If you move fast in a bid to catch him, your already-scared cat will get even more anxious and may even try to attack you out of panic.
Sit calmly on the floor near him. Speak softly to him and try not to make direct eye contact with him. Your cat may interpret eye contact as being confronted.
If he does not want to come out, do not try to pull him or force him to come out using any other way. Bring his favorite toy and treats with you and try to lure him out. This will help distract him from his fear.
If he still resists, leave him in the room for some time to compose himself. Leave the door open so he can come out if he wants to but avoid going into the room.
Lost Indoor Cats
If your strictly-indoor cat has escaped the house somehow, you really need to act fast. Most of the time, escaped indoor cats hide somewhere very close to their home.
Since they have never witnessed the outside world previously, every sound and passerby scares them and makes them anxious.
Firstly, you should check the surroundings of your house. Check in the bushes, under the porch, and other areas where your cat has easy access to.
To tempt your cat out, warm up a plate of his favorite wet food and leave it outside the front door for a while. When he gets hungry, he will probably forget about his fear of the outdoors and come out of the hiding for the sake of food.
In case you cat is confused and has forgotten his way home, the smells he’s familiar with can help him find his way back home. Keep his litter box with tiny traces of his litter in it outside the front door.
If nothing else works, you can set humane cat traps. Although it should not be left outside overnight and unattended
If night has fallen and you still haven’t found him yet, to be on the safe side, leave some dry food and water outside. In case he decides to come back at night, at least he won’t go thirsty or hungry.
Just like humans, cats have different personalities. Some cats are more confident and sociable, whereas other cats might be shy by default. Shy cats will hide if they are not used to your presence.
To establish good terms with a reserved cat, you need to be very patient and persistent. Good relationships with pets never build up overnight.
Assuring your cat that you love him and are there for him is very important, especially when he is adjusting to a new environment. Sit near his hiding place and talk softly to him. Do this few times a day for 15-20 minutes. This will help him to get used to your voice and scent. Eventually, the cat will feel comfortable around you.
You can try using their favorite toys, catnip, treats, and wet food to encourage the scared little fellow to come out of hiding. Place these things near the place where he is hiding but make sure he needs to come out to be able to reach them.
With dry treats, before each feeding session, shake the pack a little to make some noise. The cat will slowly learn to recognize that sound and come running out of hiding to get their treat whenever you shake it.
A Change in the Environment
If you have just adopted a new cat, you may have noticed that they are a little fearful and nervous about everything around them—even you. Cats are a creature of habit, so changes in their environment make them anxious. They need time to adjust to their new owner and the completely new environment.
Kittens usually need a few days or weeks to adjust to their new home. You should give them some space to help them adjust. Adults may take even longer than kittens to come out of their shell in a new environment because as cats grow older, they become more set in their ways.
Keep the new pet in a separate room away from other pets. Before you bring your new cat home, make sure you have prepped the room first. There should be nothing in the room which could cause the cat to get stuck or harm himself. Keep a plywood over the fireplace and close your washer and dryer if there are any.
For their convenience and comfort, consider setting up a safe hiding place for him using cardboard or other similar stuff.
Leave some food, water, and a separate litter box for them somewhere nearby and let them use these whenever they want to.
Treat the room with Feliway spray. It contains artificial pheromones that can make the environment feel less scary and unfamiliar to your cat. Do not spray it in front of the cat. The sound and abrupt smell might scare him even more. Spray it in a corner and let the smell saturate the room on its own. Leave the room after spraying and close the door. The spray will do its work and relax the cat.
Once she gets settled, she might want to get your attention. If she bumps you with her head or starts purring while standing near you, give her some love and spend some quality time with her.
Give your new pet a chance to get familiar with your appearance and smell. Before you introduce them to your other pets, make sure they know you and trust you.
Make it your routine to spend some time with them every day. Sit with them while they eat.
It is important to build a trust-based relationship with your cat first. While the cat is taking his time to adjust to new surroundings, you should also be very patient with him. Do not pick him up forcefully if he is averse to it.
Once the cat is familiar you and his room, let him explore the rest of the house on his own. Make sure there’s nothing that could threaten his safety. If you have other pets, keep them locked in a separate room. Never leave your cat alone with an animal he is not familiar with without supervision. Introduce your cat to your other pets slowly, step by step.
As humans, we sometimes feel the need to isolate ourselves when we feel depressed or stressed. Cats do the same. They will try to hide in secluded, dark places if they feel threatened or overwhelmed.
They will eventually understand that you mean no harm if you keep showering them with kindness. However, do not force them to come out if they are not comfortable with it yet. Let them take their time to get used to the new changes in their life, be it a new home or a new family member. It may take anywhere between two weeks and two months for them to get completely comfortable with the new situation.
If your resident pet is hiding because you just adopted a new one, ensure them that you still love them and that the new pet is not a threat. There is a chance that your resident pet will feel neglected or he might see the new pet as competition.
Keep both the new and the resident pet away from each other for a few days, but let them slowly get used to each other’s scent through you. When they finally meet face to face, make sure you are around to stop any fight that may start between them.
If no huge changes occurred in your cat’s life and yet he is hiding—which is out of character for him—it could be indicative of an illness or a serious medical condition. If you observe other signs such as excessive discharge around the eyes or nose, limping, vomiting, and runny stool, make an appointment with the vet as soon as possible to rule out any serious medical condition that can turn fatal if left untreated.
What do you think is the cause of your cat’s sudden desire to hide himself? If you decided to follow the methods we suggested above to get a cat out of hiding, please let us know how it went. If there’s something you tried that was particularly effective, please share it with us in the comments section below.