Seven tips to help your cat come out of hiding

12 December 2023 - 3 min read
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.
Woman playing with cat

Is your rescue cat the hide-and-seek champ you never signed up for?

This quirky behavior isn't just about finding the cosiest hiding spot—it could be a sign of stress or even health concerns.

Let's dive into understanding and easing our furry friend's secret life, ensuring they're not just safe but also happy and healthy.

Consult your vet first

If there's even the slightest concern in your mind that your cat's hiding behavior might be health-related—and even if it hasn't occurred to you—it's a good idea to reach out to your vet first.

While some hiding behaviour is to be expected, particularly if your cat's new to your household, there could be other more serious reasons your cat's hiding, illness for one. Here are some more serious signs to watch for:

  • Not eating or drinking after the first three days

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Lethargy

  • Urinating blood

The bottom line? Set up an appointment to get your cat checked out so you can rule out health concerns.

A person high fiving a dog

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A person high fiving a dog

Consider recent triggering events

Did you move your cat's bowl three inches?

But in all seriousness, cats are much more into routine and familiarity than you may realise. The smallest things can trigger anxiety in some cats.

Once your vet's ruled out any major health concerns, it's time to troubleshoot potential reasons your cat's hiding. The following factors can result in your cat running for cover:

  • A move to a new house

  • New housemates - pets, kids, family members, or loss of these

  • A change in routine such as a new feeding schedule, your work schedule, etc.

  • A missing comfort object or spot

  • A new plant or strange object

Once you've identified some of the key changes that might have triggered your cat's hiding behaviour, you'll have a better chance of remedying the situation.

Make sure they have a safe spot

I realise we say this in basically every article we have about cats, but it's for good reason:

Cats need a place where they can hide from triggering situations.

“Cats are often nervous of new places and situations; it's how they survived in the wild,” says Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, a veterinarian based in the UK.  “As vets, we like to use the adage 'go slow to go fast' with cats. In other words, keep quiet, keep calm, and let your cat come to you.”

If you don't provide them with a zone where they can retreat—or even if you do—don't be surprised if they choose the cupboard over the fridge as their preferred hideout.

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Establish and stick to a routine

Consistency is key. Regular schedules for feeding, playtime, and cuddling can significantly help your cat acclimate to their new environment.

Entice them with toys

While most people recognise that dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy and not destroy your couch, not everyone seems to know this about cats.

A bored cat might actually become more stressed or anxious, which can result in even more hiding. However, your cautious cat might be more willing to come out of hiding if they know playtime's approaching.

Just don't go overboard; the goal is to entice your kitty out of hiding with fun and safe toys, not traumatise them with lasers.

Use treats to your advantage

Is it shameless to bribe your cat with treats? Maybe.

But a bit of tuna or a healthy cat treat might be the ticket to enticing your cat out of hiding—at least, long enough so you can make sure they're alive and well.

Just make sure that the foods you give your cat are safe for them and give in moderation, or you'll have more issues on your hands.

Keep rambunctious pets and kids at bay

I know your pooch loves cats. I know you are excited about cuddles between the two.

But if your cat's hiding, they might not be as excited about the prospect. Make sure to keep your overexcited pets and kids away from your cat if they seem stressed out.

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