BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

Why Do Cats Hide: Five of the Top Reasons

cat hiding
Stella Noble
Written by Stella Noble

Why do cats hide? This is a common question asked by cat parents like you. Have you noticed your pet hiding for no apparent reason? Is this a sign that something’s wrong with her? Should you be alarmed at all?

The popular cartoon character Garfield is perhaps the epitome of the anti-social cat. In a way, that characterization holds some truth to it; some cats are shy, and they prefer to be in the background. But for most cats, there are many reasons why they become shy and reclusive. It could range from stress to a serious illness, so it is important for you to be aware.

In this post, we will take a look at some of the possible answers to the question “Why is my cat hiding suddenly?” We will also give you tips on the best course of action for every reason behind your cat hiding. By the time you are through with this article, you should be able to determine the real reason behind your cat’s sudden hiding streak and do something about it!

5 Top Reasons Why Cats Hide

It’s likely you have found your cat hiding in places like on top of the shelf or behind appliances like the television or refrigerator. Cats also love getting into tight spaces like clothes dryers, drawers, sinks, and even under cars. You wonder: “Why is my cat hiding and not coming out?”

The reason behind cats hiding in these places may vary, but below are some of the most likely reasons why your cat is hiding:

#1: She’s Stressed Out by the Noise

orange cat hiding behind the curtain

Do you have a friendly cat who has suddenly become shy? You might have asked yourself ‘Why is my cat hiding all of a sudden?’

There are plenty of possible reasons why your pet has become introverted. Is your place noisy? If you answered yes, it is likely that your cat is hiding because she’s stressed out by the noise.

Just like us humans, cats fear loud, strange, or sudden noises. It’s part of their survival instincts. But some cats are especially sensitive to noises such as door slamming, road construction outside, or even the doorbell ringing.

Moreover, the inherently developed senses of cats make them more sensitive to noises. Their ears are not only used for detecting sounds but also for aiding in their balance. In fact, the ears of felines can rotate while their bodies are moving in another direction. This amazing trait explains why cats can hear the slightest rustling of a prey.

Unfortunately, the enhanced senses of cats also make our pets more sensitive to sounds which may not bother the human ears. In fact, cats can hear sounds at longer distances—up to five times farther away than what humans can hear.

So what can you do to help your cat? There are certain noise sources that you can control such as the phone or the vacuum cleaner. You can turn down the volume of the phone, for example. Or you can bring your cat to another room before using the vacuum cleaner.

It’s more difficult to adjust when the noises are sudden and unexpected. But one thing you can do is to provide your cat with alternative hiding places so that she doesn’t have to run to another room. You can add skirts around tables or chairs or cut two holes in a big cardboard box and then leave this in the corner of the room.

See Also: DIY Cat Cave

#2: To Secretly Watch Their Environs

cat hiding in clothes

Here’s one thing you should have realized after sharing living space with a cat for some time—just because you can’t see your pet does not mean your whiskered friend can’t see you. The truth is she may be hiding under your bed or even at an elevated area like the top of your cabinet. Regardless of where she may be, your cat may likely be keeping an eye on what is going on in her environment.

Cat behavioral experts agree that this trait can be explained by the natural instinct of felines to be a tree dweller. In the wild, cats and their bigger relatives like tigers and jaguars climb up trees because it gives them a good place to observe their environs.

Felines may also hide under a bed or in tight spaces. This enables them to keep an eye on the things going on in their environments without being disturbed by people or other pets around them. It is also a means for them to feel secure especially when they feel uneasy about their environments, and they want to sort things out without being bothered.

If you have observed that your cat is hiding because she wants to observe her environment, one thing you can do is to give her a cat tower. Your pet would love it because she can climb up a high spot where she can feel safe and secure. It would also let her survey her territory. Plus, a tower can satisfy her intent to scratch. She may even use it for exercise.

See Also: DIY Cat Condo

#3: She is Scared

cat hiding behind the tree

Just like you when you were younger, cats will hide whenever they feel scared. It is a normal defensive behavior that our feline friends exhibit when they feel threatened by something or someone.

Cats may be good hunters themselves but let’s also remember their place in the animal food chain. Felines are prey animals, too. They can be attacked by bigger animals such as coyotes, foxes, and birds of prey such as eagles and hawks. Thus, we can’t blame our whiskered friends if they are fearful of noise, moving things, or even new persons or animals which they may think of as threats to their existence.

There are some physical signs that can indicate your cat is scared. A focused stare, dilated pupils, and furrowed brow are all indicative that your cat is frightened. The same is true when her whiskers are raised.

What would you usually do when you realize that your cat is frightened? Do you feel the urge to pick her up? Or maybe cuddle her? While these actions may make you feel better, animal trainers and cat behaviorists warn against forcing interactions on a scared cat.

Instead, give her space. Allow her to hide or go to a place where she feels secure. Not only would this help your cat feel better, but it can also prevent accidents from happening.

Moreover, you should determine the reason why she’s scared in the first place to be able to address the problem.

Ask yourself: “Is there something in the house that my cat considers a threat?” Could it be because you have guests in the house? If so, don’t force your pet to come out and say hi to them.

No matter how much you are raring for your friends or relatives to see your beloved furry friend, you should not force an interaction. Just leave her alone. You can also provide her with a safe place to escape to, complete with food, water, litter box, and a comfy place to rest.

If it is another pet that’s making your cat feel uncomfortable and scared, then you can start introducing them to each other through scent-sharing. You should also separate the animals physically with a crate or screen. Moreover, be patient; the introduction process between two animals can take weeks or even months.

See Also: How to Introduce a Cat to a Dog

#4: She’s Feeling the Heat

cat hiding in jeans

Another possible answer to the all-too-familiar question of “Why do cats hide under the bed?” is that the cat is simply feeling the heat. Staying under the bed or the couch is one way for her to escape the heat.

The space under the bed, after all, is an ideal cooling place for any cat; it’s dark and cool, especially if the floor is made of tiles. Moreover, it makes cats feel secure because the space under the bed is hard to reach for most people. And being under the bed means your cat is away from the noise and other distractions inside your house.

If you feel that your cat is hiding because she’s being bothered by the heat, then you can do certain things to keep the inside of your home cool for your whiskered friend. One way to do so is to place an electric fan to keep the air circulating. But don’t point the fan directly at the cat because she will be distracted by the noise.

See Also: How Hot is Too Hot for Cats

#5: She’s Sick and Maybe Dying

black cat hiding in box

Why do cats hide when they are sick, you might ask. Shouldn’t they be seeking you out for help instead? One theory is that cats don’t want their human parents to see them suffering. Author Desmond Morris, however, offers a more plausible explanation.

In his book “Cat World: A Feline Encyclopedia” he explains that cats don’t have a concept of death like us humans. But they go away to hide whenever they are feeling unwell because they feel more vulnerable to their predators. The best way to keep themselves away from possible confrontations is to keep out of sight.

In the forest, a vulnerable cat would often hide to survive. Doing so will minimize the chances that their predators will find and attack them.

Cats who are sick and dying often look for cool and shaded areas. Some of these places include under the bushes and wild grasses. It is also common for sick cats to hide under vehicles. If you have an aging or sick cat who has suddenly gone Houdini on you, we suggest that you check out these areas first.

Indoor cats who are sick also exhibit the same behavior. They hide in places like under the beds, storage rooms, and even the cellar.

Apart from hiding, a dying or sick cat would go through a noticeable change in personality. For example, a feline who used to be outgoing could become recluse and irritable, especially when handled by her owner. If your pet is like this, don’t get angry at her. It may be because she is in pain and does not want to be touched.

Here’s another indicator that your cat who’s in hiding is suffering from sickness or could be dying; there are noticeable changes in her diet.

Do you always ask yourself “Why is my cat hiding and not eating?” It is understandable for any cat parent to feel concerned about their cat hiding and showing signs of poor appetite. The bad news is that a cat who’s hiding and not eating at all may be having a serious disease. It’s not even far-fetched that the cat may be dying.

Felines who are gravely ill or dying normally avoid eating food. They also don’t want to drink water. There are many explanations behind the sudden loss of appetite. One is that the cat may be feeling extremely unwell that she would prefer to lie around instead of eating. It is also possible that she is too tired to eat. The lack of activity, too, may result in less need for food.

Moreover, cats who are sick and dying will show noticeable changes in appearance. This is due to the lack of energy to groom herself. Her fur may also shed copiously or come out in tiny clumps. An extremely weakened cat may also urinate on herself, resulting in bad odor.

Of course, you should consider bringing your cat to a veterinarian if you suspect that she’s sick or about to die.

See Also: How to Tell If a Cat is Dying

Wrap Up

cat hiding under the carpet

Cats hide from their masters due to numerous reasons. One is that the feline could be stressed out because of the noise. It may also be because the cat is trying to observe her environment, or because she’s anxious due to things like a new pet in the house.

Another possible reason why cats hide is the heat. Unbearable temperatures may force your cat to hide in places like under the bed. Finally, a sick and dying cat is also prone to hiding.

As you can see, there are many possible explanations for why cats go into hiding. You can determine the real reason why your cat is hiding from you by being more observant and sensitive to your feline friend’s needs.

Do you think the reason your cat is hiding might be one of the above? Or do you suspect there’s another culprit behind your cat’s disappearing act? Leave us a comment before and let us know. Next, check out our article on how to get a cat out of hiding.

About the author
Stella Noble
Stella Noble

Stella Noble lives in Warren, Michigan with her family and three cats. She is a Certified Cat Trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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