If your cat is hiding because they’re scared, don’t panic. Hiding is their natural instinct to protect them from predators.
A cat will stay hidden for an average of 2 hours until they feel safe again. This could mean a few more hours if they were scared by a loud noise, or it could mean a couple of days if they were scared by a recent move.
If your cat won’t come out from their hiding spot, this article will provide a few tips and tricks to help coax them from their hiding spot.
The time it takes your cat to come out of hiding will depend on their personality, environment, and what scared them in the first place.
Cats hide for many reasons, including:
- New home or a new environment
- Feeling trapped
- Traumatized after a vet visit
- Sick or injured
- Hiding from predators
Ultimately, your cat is hiding because they’re scared and don’t feel safe in their environment. That could be why your cat is not playful anymore, for now. Until they can feel safe again, they will continue to hide.
If your cat was only scared by something small, like a loud noise outside, they won’t stay hidden for long, typically an hour or two. With a little coaxing and reassurance, your cat will come out in no time.
However, if your cat is in a new home or environment, they might hide for a couple of days while they get used to the new smells and new space. In these cases, they’ll need a little extra space and patience but will eventually adjust.
If you’ve just adopted a new cat and brought them home for the first time or you’ve recently moved to a new place, it’s perfectly normal for your cat to hide all day. They may even stay hidden for a couple of days until they feel more comfortable in their new environment.
If nothing in your cat’s environment has changed, but they’re still hiding all day, they may need medical attention. Cats hide when they’re feeling sick or they’ve been injured, so you should check on your cat as quickly as possible.
While hiding is normal, instinctual behavior, there are many reasons you would need to lure a scared cat out of hiding. These steps will help you create a calm, safe environment for your cat, which is the first step to coaxing them from their hiding spot.
Determine the Cause of Their Hiding
A cat won’t come out of hiding until they feel safe and like the threat is gone. If you want to lure your cat out of hiding, you have to get rid of whatever they’re scared of.
Remove any stressors from your cat’s environment, if possible. These could be loud noises like vacuum cleaners or other intimidating changes to their environment like strangers or other animals.
If you can’t remove the stressor, try to block it out in some way. You can use a sound machine, calming music, or even the TV to block out sounds from outside that could be scaring your cat like thunder, fireworks, or loud car noises.
Create a Clear, Easy Escape Route
If your cat is going to come out of hiding, they need to feel safe. The best way to do that is to create a clear, easy way for them to escape. Typically, this means added vertical space.
Cats feel safest high up, so they can have a clearer view of any predators. Adding another cat tower near where your cat is hiding can coax them out.
Use Food and Treats
Food is a great go-to method to encourage your cat to come out of hiding. Pick a food that you know is one of your cat’s favorites and one that has an especially strong scent. Wet food or gravy is a great option here.
Put the food a few inches away from their hiding spot, then back away. Make sure that you remain still and quiet to avoid scaring them even more.
Even if your cat isn’t hungry, most can’t resist the smell of their favorite foods.
Try to Engage Their Hunting Instincts
If your cat isn’t food motivated, another great option is to play with one of their toys.
Cats are natural hunters, and they love to stalk and pounce on their prey. Cat wands are a great toy to encourage this behavior in your cat. If they see the toy wiggling outside of their hiding spot, their hunting instinct can take over, and they’ll chase their toy out of hiding.
If the food and toys don’t work, catnip is a good alternative. Catnip is a natural herb from the mint family that entices cats. Many cats experience a behavior change when they smell catnip, and it even reduces stress levels in many cats.
You can sprinkle catnip in a trail leading from their hiding spot, or use a catnip-stuffed toy to encourage your cat to come out.
Cats hide because they don’t feel safe in their environment, so the most important thing that you can do to prevent your cat from hiding in the future is to create a calm, safe environment for them. You can do this in a few different ways.
Give Your Cat Plenty of Space
Cats love their space, and they love their privacy. Make sure that your cat has a designated space just for them. This space needs to be:
- Off-limits from other animals in the house
- A quieter place that receives less foot traffic
- Full of all of their needs like food, water, and litter box
If your cat has their own space, they’re less likely to feel trapped or scared by new animals or house guests. They can use their personal space as a place to calm down and unwind if they start to feel anxious.
Another great idea is to maximize your vertical space. Even in a small apartment, your cat can feel open and free if you provide them with tons of vertical space to climb on. This includes shelves and cat towers where they can perch and keep an eye on whatever is making them feel uncomfortable.
Recognize Your Cat’s Triggers and Remove Them
Your cat will let you know what they like and don’t like. Pay close attention to what scares them and minimize their interaction with whatever it is, if possible.
This could mean using a sound machine to drown out the car alarms or loud honks from cars outside or covering up mirrors if your cat is scared by their reflection.
The more you can prevent your cat from being scared, the more comfortable they’ll feel in your home and the less they’ll feel the need to hide.
Check With Your Vet
In some instances, your cat could be hiding because of an underlying health concern. Cats often hide if they’re feeling sick or injured, so a quick trip to the vet will help you diagnose any issues. From there, you can work with your vet to find an effective treatment plan.
If your cat experiences frequent and intense anxiety, your vet will also be able to prescribe medication to help calm your cat long-term.
Give Your Cat Time
Sometimes, the only thing that will truly help your cat is time. If you’ve recently moved, added a new pet to the house, or otherwise changed your cat’s environment, they need time to get used to the new changes.
While you can do your best to create a calm, safe home for your cat, they’ll still need time to learn the new smells and sounds. It’s tempting to force your cat out of hiding because you’re worried about them, but give them a few days to cope with the new change on their own.
Consider Calming Scents
Cats use smell to communicate and better understand their surroundings, and you can use these natural instincts to your advantage. Use a synthetic pheromone spray, diffuser, or collar to mimic your cat’s natural pheromones.
When your cat scratches or rubs on something, they’re leaving their pheromones there as a way to communicate that this is their space. Synthetic chemicals that mimic your cat’s pheromones help them know that the environment is safe, and they help keep your cat calm.
In summary, a hiding cat is normal in most scenarios. If you know what scared them and can act quickly to remove it, you can expect them to hide for a couple of hours and then be back to their normal selves quickly.
In the cases of big environmental changes, your cat just needs a little time and encouragement to adjust. After a few days, your cat will feel comfortable enough to come out, especially if you follow the tips outlined in this article.
As long as you do your best to provide a happy, safe, calm home for your cat, you’re doing a great job as a cat parent. Your cat will thank you for your love and compassion.