Why Is My Cat Hiding?

Hannah Hart, DVM
By Hannah Hart, DVM on May 22, 2024
orange tabby cat hiding underneath a couch

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In This Article

Why Is My Cat Hiding?

Just like people, all cats are individuals with their own unique personality. Some cats are naturally shyer than others and more likely to hide under the bed or in your closet. But sometimes a cat hiding is a sign that something is wrong.

Here’s what it means if your cat is hiding.

Why Is My Cat Hiding?

So, why do cats hide? Hiding can be normal cat behavior, but if you find your cat hiding more than normal, it’s cause for further investigation.

1. Hiding is Instinctual

To some degree, hiding in an instinctual behavior in all cats because they are more active during dawn and dusk. Because of this, cats may find a secluded area to rest in during the day.

Hiding also protects cats from predators and helps them hunt their own prey.

2. Hiding Makes Cats Feel Safe

When cats feel anxious or vulnerable, they may spend more time away from other family members. Hiding makes them feel safer in these situations.

Anxiety can come from sources like recent moves, new two-legged or four-legged additions to the family, the loss of a family member, or a change in the family’s routines. Hiding may also be a fear response in cats to things like unfamiliar visitors, loud noises, or bullying by other pets in the household—especially other cats.

3. Your Cat Is Sick

Everything from urinary tract infections to upper respiratory infections can lead to an increase in cat hiding. Cats are good at hiding when they’re sick or in pain, but a sudden tendency to hide can be a clue that they aren’t feeling well.

Any changes in your cat’s hiding behavior should be addressed with your veterinarian.

Where Do Cats Hide?

Each cat may have their own favorite hiding spots, such as in closets, under beds or chairs, in boxes, or in drawers.

Most cats prefer hiding spots that are dark, warm, and sufficiently closed off at the back. This instinctually offers them security from attacks from behind and below, while allowing them to watch what’s happening in front of and above them.

While your cat may choose their own hiding spot, you can provide them with more options to help them feel more secure when they need it most. This can be as simple as a cardboard box with a blanket, or you can buy covered cat beds or cat condos.

Should I Be Concerned That My Cat Is Hiding?

While hiding can be a normal behavior in some cats some of the time, it can be concerning in certain situations.

Take your cat to the veterinarian if they are hiding more than normal. A trip to the vet is also needed if your cat is hiding and showing other symptoms, such as:

If your cat is hiding and has one or more of these other symptoms, have them examined by a veterinarian within a couple of days.

If your cat seems fine otherwise, it may be OK to try a few things at home first to see if there’s any improvement before taking your cat to see the veterinarian.

Any changes in your cat’s hiding behavior should be addressed with your veterinarian.

How To Get a Cat Out of Hiding

Cats usually hide for a reason, so it’s best to let your cat hide if they want to. Removing them from their hiding spot may worsen their stress and make them want to hide for even longer.

More effective methods of getting your cat out of their hiding place include using calming products, like a Feliway® diffuser, near their hiding spot. This diffuser contains a synthetic version of a pheromone that mother cats produce while their kittens are nursing, so it helps cats return to that same calm, happy state from kittenhood.

Another product that may help is the Purina® Pro Plan® Veterinary Diets Calming Care Cat Supplement, a probiotic powder to mix into cat food. It contains a proprietary strain of beneficial bacteria to regulate your cat’s mood.

While waiting for the pheromone diffuser and probiotic powder to take effect, place yourself near your cat’s hiding space without crowding them. Try to coax them out with high-value food like Churu® or Temptations® cat treats, or even pieces of properly prepared (plain, boiled, boneless, and skinless) chicken breast.

Patience is key. And as long as your cat doesn’t have any underlying medical concerns, they will eventually come out of their hiding spot.


Hannah Hart, DVM

WRITTEN BY

Hannah Hart, DVM

Veterinarian

Dr. Hart graduated from veterinary school in 2017 and began her career with USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service as a public health...


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