Any pet parent with a feline friend will know hiding is considered normal behavior. Cats hide so they can snooze quietly and comfortably, away from noisy humans and grubby hands. Hiding is also instinctual behavior that helps cats to avoid potential predators and pounce on unexpected prey.
Whether it's in a closet, under the stairs, or behind the sofa, cats will find somewhere to get some peace and quiet. While occasional hiding is considered normal, you might be alarmed if your cat starts to disappear for most of the day. If your cat suddenly starts hiding far more than usual, it could signify that something's amiss.
The Root of the Behavior
There are several reasons that your little lion might be hiding more than usual. One of the most common reasons is due to anxiety resulting from environmental and social changes. For example, moving to a new house is a common reason for cats to hide, as it's a big, new environment where your cat doesn't feel safe yet.
If your cat is usually social and playful but suddenly becomes withdrawn, it could be a sign of sickness, ranging from the flu to a chronic illness. If your cat is hiding suddenly and excessively, take them to a vet for a medical examination.
At the same time, environmental changes don't need to be as grand as moving house. Felines are hyper-sensitive critters, and even a change like getting a new sofa or installing a new air conditioner could cause a cat to hide and avoid a certain room.
As solitary creatures, cats would prefer to avoid conflict than face something head-on. So, if a person or another animal has changed the social structure in your house, this could stress out your cat. New faces around the household will frighten a cat, and they'll likely avoid the person or animal until they know they're not a threat.
If hiding due to social changes is prolonged, it could be about how a person or animal is interacting with your cat. If a person is over-enthusiastic when interacting with your cat, this could cause your cat stress. Bringing another pet into the house could also change the social hierarchy, which may distress your cat and cause them to hide.
Cats who suddenly start hiding without any changes to their environment or social structure may have a medical issue. As solitary animals with strong instincts, cats hide sickness very well.
Encouraging the Behavior
While you shouldn't encourage your cat to hide, you can provide safe spaces for them to go when they're stressed, which should reduce their stress and excessive hiding.
Set up a few dark and comfortable corners behind furniture or in closets where your cat can escape the household hustle and bustle. Battersea Dog and Cat Home also suggests making a hideaway for your cat.
Trying to stop your cat from hiding excessively? There are a few things you can do that should help your cat adjust to change. Allowing your cat to get used to strangers is a great way to avoid social stress.
When a new person comes to your home, don't encourage them to invade your cat's personal space. Speaking to PetMD, Myrna Milani, DVM, states that, "The worst thing you can tell the new person to do is play nice and 'kissy face' with the cat."
Instead, you should encourage a new person to sit near one of your cat's hiding spots, so your tiny tiger can come out and greet the visitor when they're ready. A treat or toy is also a good way of encouraging your cat to meet someone new.
If you have a new permanent resident in the house, get your cat used to their scent. An excellent way to do this is to leave a towel or piece of unwashed clothing on the floor, so your cat can get used to their scent. However, if a cat pees on a piece of clothing or towel, it's a sign they need more time to adjust.
If you're moving a cat into a new environment, normalize the process as much as possible. Avoid continuously moving furniture, as this will increase your cat's stress levels. It's also a good idea to set up their furniture, like their cat tree and bedding, somewhere comfortable, as this will help them feel normal. Settling in quickly is the key to a successful move.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If you're unsure about the cause of your cat suddenly hiding, take them to the vet just to be safe. Hiding is one of the first signs that your cat is suffering from illness.
There are a few other reasons your cat might be hiding. If you have a female feline that goes outdoors and isn't neutered, there's a good chance they might be pregnant. It's not always obvious that a cat is pregnant until suddenly several adorable furballs are brought into the world.
Usually, a cat will hide for a few days before they're about to give birth so that they can get comfortable and ready for labor. If you think your cat might be pregnant, feel their belly, and you should be able to feel the outline of a kitten or two.
Cats hide suddenly due to environmental, social, and medical issues. If you have made or are planning to move to a new home, ensure you make the process as seamless as possible so your cat doesn't become stressed.
When you bring a new person or animal into your home, ensure you give your cat plenty of space and allow them to get used to new scents so they don't become fearful of the latest addition to your household.
If you're unsure why your cat's suddenly hiding and it's an ongoing issue, contact a vet as their hiding may be caused by injury or illness.
By Adam Lee-Smith
Published: 08/25/2021, edited: 08/25/2021