Is your cat hiding? What’s the reason?

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Hiding is a common behavior of cats, sometimes silly and even normal. So why is your cat hiding? Is it a sign of something serious when a cat hides?

A cat hiding under a sofa.Photo © w-ings | E+ / Getty Image – Philip Mlynar, April 6, 2020

When pet talk show host Tracy Hotchner appeared on “The Martha Stewart Show,” Martha Stewart brought her newly adopted cat with her on the show. Today, Tracy is the founder of the Radio Pet Lady Network, but at the time she had a show on Stewart’s Sirius Radio Channel. Unfortunately, once the cameras started rolling, the feline guest seemed to disappear. Later, I found the cat sandwiched between two of Martha’s cookbooks on a bookshelf!” Tracy laughs. If you have cats, you might relate to Tracy’s cat-hiding anecdote.


Cat Hiding at a Glance

Is it normal for a cat to hide or is it more than that?Photography © Ghostl | iStock / Getty Images.

Our cats are so skilled at hiding cats that when we think our beloved feline has magically disappeared, it is often hiding in the corner of a cupboard, perched high in the kitchen cupboard, or sneaking under the bed. But why do cats hide? Is there something wrong with your favorite cat hiding too often?

Why do cats hide?

Regarding cats hiding, Tracy relates it to cats’ place in the animal food chain. Cats are fearful “prey” animals,” she says. Almost any noise, stranger, other animal, or moving furniture can stress a cat and cause it to hide.”

My cat, Mimosa, jumps under the bed every time the doorbell rings for a delivery, as if the end of the world has been declared. Mimosa has never been harmed or inconvenienced by the ringing of the doorbell. But it seems a novel sound, and the inability to identify the sound as coming from inside the apartment stimulates the cat’s instinct to hide. Fear of the unknown can make us behave strangely.

What are cats’ favorite hiding places?

A common hiding place for cats is to lock themselves away somewhere, such as the back corner of a wardrobe. Several years ago, I had a discussion with cat science expert John Bradshaw, author of the book Cat Sense, about why cats choose such enclosed places as hiding places. According to Bradshaw, cats in the wild are always looking for “a corner or crevice where they can rest, since five of the six surfaces are essentially protected.

That’s one of the reasons the cardboard box has become a favorite hiding place for cats.” Bradshaw says, “Five of the six sides are free of attackers, and the sixth side you can’t take your eyes off of.

Cat Hides and New Homes

Newly adopted cats might hide. Photography © w-ings | E+ / Getty Images.

When bringing a newly adopted cat home, they often use Bradshaw’s calculations. The standard advice for keeping a cat from hiding is to set up a small room, such as a bathroom or utility room, and make sure that the room has all the cat’s necessities, including food, water, and a litter tray.

Then leave the cat alone in that room and let it adjust to its new environment at its own pace. However, if you take a quick peek, you will find that the cat is often hiding somewhere in the room as well.

Our cat, Mimosa, hides under the sink cabinet. Perhaps it serves Bradshaw’s purpose of finding intruders while keeping herself as safe as possible.

Is this a sign that something is wrong?

In Mimosa’s case, the hide-and-seek behavior did not last long. After the bathroom door was left open, she eventually left in the middle of the night to explore her forever home. Now she likes to hide in the wardrobe where she keeps her coats and winter boots.

It is natural for cats to hide in their favorite places from time to time, and even more so on hot, humid summer days when they seek shade to cool off.

Tracy says, “Knowing your cat’s habits will help you determine if hiding behavior is a physical or emotional issue.” If your cat usually comes out of hiding when you shake the treat bag, but starts ignoring your calls, you may want to consider that there may be a problem.

Tracy says, “The number one skill needed to be a cat guardian, is patience. Never try to force the cat out of the house. Instead, allow the cat to “come out when it wants to” and respect the cat’s preferred method of hiding.

Tell me, does your cat hide? What is the craziest cat hiding place you have ever seen?

Top photograph: © w-ings | E+ / Getty Images.

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