Why is my cat hiding?
There are a number of reasons your cat may hide, and this is behaviour the pet owner should be alert to. Some cats are naturally quite shy and prefer to remain out of the way.
Pet owners can do their bit to try and bring out the confidence and trust in cats, but some cats will always just prefer to remain in the background.
Some cats are afraid of strangers, we had a cat who was fine with just us around, but as soon as a stranger came up to the house he would run and hide. That was just his inherent nature, and not something to be overly concerned with. That's just how he was.
Some cats like to hide because they can. Our cat Levi loves to hop into cupboards when we're not looking. He's always been this way, so again, it's not really a great concern. If we can't find him, we start looking in the cupboards. He's usually in one of them.
Signs of illness:
Any changes in your cat's behaviour warrants concern and that includes hiding. It may be a clue that something is bothering your cat, either stress, fear or possible sickness. If you have an otherwise outgoing cat who suddenly hides, it could be an indicator that there is an underlying problem.
Cats are very stoic by nature and can hide signs of pain well. This is why it is important for the pet owner to be aware of what's "normal" in our cats and alert to changes in behaviour as well as other symptoms. Common signs your cat is not well vary from disease to disease, but common symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased vocalisation (meowing more)
- Changes in litter box habits
- Sleeping more
Physical symptoms may include:
- Increased or decreased thirst
- Unkempt coat
It is always a good idea if you notice changes in behaviour or any physical symptoms that you seek veterinary attention.
Stress, fear or anxiety:
It is reasonably normal for a new cat to hide for the first few days. Moving in with a new family can be quite stressful on a cat. He should not be forced to come out. A new cat needs a little time and space to adjust. You can help by regularly trying to coax him out with a soft voice and possibly some tasty treats or a cat toy. I have found that most cats quickly adjust to their new home and come out when the are ready.
Hiding may also occur if you move house. Again, it just takes a little time for your cat to adjust to the new environment. Cats by nature don't like change, and will retreat for a while until they feel comfortable. If you have recently moved house, it is always a good idea to confine your cat to a small area of the house for a few days, bring along his favourite bed, food bowls and other familiar objects that may be of comfort to him.
Some cats are fine with their guardians but if a stranger visits the home they will hide. We have to make allowances for their individual levels of comfort. Some cats will be all over a stranger, others will run for cover.
Pregnancy and birth:
A pregnant female nearing her due date may make a nest in an out of the way place in preparation for the birth of her kittens. This is normal behaviour and it makes sense. In the wild, a new mother and her kittens are vulnerable to predators, so it makes sense that she would choose to make a nest in an out of the way place. Of course what she deems to be a suitable location may not be somewhere you would choose. It is a good idea to provide the expectant mother with a nesting box, it should be placed in a quiet location, but somewhere you can easily access.
Some cats love to hide in boxes or paper bags that you leave lying around the place. Again, this is normal and quite fun for your cat.
Hiding in inappropriate spots:
Only you know your cat and what is "normal" for him. But if your cat is hiding, make sure it is in a suitable location. Under the bed, in a wardrobe, fine. What becomes dangerous is if they hide in appliances such as washing machines or tumble dryers. It is important to ensure that your cat never has access to these machines as many cats have been killed when the unaware owner turns on the appliance unaware the cat is in there.