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When Our Cats Are Afraid: Favorite Hiding Spots

January 3, 2013

As much as I hate it when one of our cats runs and hides, I also understand that it’s important for them to feel in control of their safety and protect themselves.

Photo courtesy denisko.

Often this means finding a dark, quiet place where they feel the fear factor can’t get to them. That said, sometimes they find new places to hide, or they end up in hiding spots that make it nearly impossible for you to retrieve them. If this happens to you, don’t worry. Here are a few common hiding place suggestions, plus a few more ideas if you still can’t find your cat.

If you’re looking for your CH cat, first search all of the “regular” spots first. If you still can’t find her, try searching in these places:

  • Under, behind and even inside furniture, large appliances and standing structures
  • The back of a closet or on a closet’s shelves
  • In a drawer
  • In a laundry basket
  • Behind the drapes
  • Behind an open door
  • In or on top of cupboards (don’t only consider kitchen cupboards but also bathroom vanities, etc.)
  • Under the bedspread/in a boxspring/behind pillows
  • In an open appliance (like an empty dryer – remember to always be careful with leaving your appliances open!)
  • In open boxes or luggage

If you still can’t find your cat, don’t panic. If you’re sure she hasn’t escaped, odds are she’ll come eventually. You can encourage her to come out in a few ways.

Sometimes a cat’s stomach has more power over her than her fear. Fill her food bowl with kibble, open a fresh can of cat food and walk around your home shaking a bag of treats. If you listen closely, your cat may give herself away for the sake of her tummy.

Photo courtesy illpig.

If those don’t entice your cat, try walking around with something especially delicious smelling – like a sprig of catnip or a fresh can of tuna. Even if you don’t feed it to her, the smell may draw her out.

Lastly, if none of those attempts work, just wait patiently. Once the fear-causing factor is no longer present, your cat will likely come out. You can also try to entice out her by calling her in a soothing voice.

One word to the wise: Don’t try to force your cat out of her hiding spot. This may terrify her even more, and she may injure you in the process.

Every so often, your cat may be so scared that she won’t come out for hours, or even a few days. If this is the case, her food bowl and litter pan will alert you to if she’s coming out when you’re not around. Scoop the litter pan so it’s clean – any new deposits will tell you that she’s come out (if you have multiple cats, perhaps put a litter pan in the room she’s hiding and close the door). Also check her food bowl to see if the kibble is going down or if the wet food disappears.

Sooner or later your cat will come out; often it’s just a matter of being considerate to her fears and waiting patiently.

Does your cat often hide in a spot not listed above? Please share in the comments below! Please also share how you entice your cats out of their hiding spots!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. nionvox permalink
    January 5, 2013 10:47 pm

    Heating/air vents.

  2. Mari permalink
    February 17, 2013 7:52 pm

    Maggie (my CH) is (unfortunately) not scared of anything! She will stand up to anything or anyone that comes along. She runs to meet strangers at the door. With sheer attitude, she has taught numerous dogs to ‘respect the cat’. My niece calls her ‘The Queen’.
    However-her “normal” brother Manny is the biggest chicken ever. He will run and hide if you drop a newpaper on the floor to close to him. I have found him inside the couch (went up the back), inside cabinets (pulls the doors open himself), behind the TV, and in bed under the covers (burrows in), plus the usual under the bed, etc. There is no coaxing him out-he will come out only when he deems it safe to do so.

    • February 19, 2013 8:15 am

      Poor Manny! Maybe one day Maggie’s bravery will rub off on him 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  3. AuntThelma permalink
    March 5, 2013 10:20 am

    I still have scars on my thumb from ‘helping’ Bunny out from behind a shelf. Never again!

  4. erica Kaufman permalink
    April 15, 2016 1:49 pm

    mine is hiding in the suffers in my attic… I’m not sure if he’s stuck, or just doesn’t want to come out.

  5. ashleigh permalink
    May 15, 2016 1:10 pm

    my cat now is stuck under the cabinets and we have tried everything to get her to come out n i to have cuts from trying to get her out if we put her wet food near the opening she will stick her head out n eat and drink but as for coming out and spending time with us nada she has hidden in this spot many times before but never for this long now I’m worried she is stuck

    • Kelsey permalink
      August 4, 2016 11:33 am

      How did you get her to come out? I am literally in the same situation. We just moved and I didn’t notice a small opening under the cabinets so she found it and won’t come out. She does the same thing – sticks her head out to to eat the tuna but won’t come out and
      I can’t pull her through the opening. I’ve tried everything and now I’m panicking.

  6. Emham permalink
    December 7, 2016 9:12 am

    My cat got outside and went into the crawl space (…we’d just unsealed it for the deck and hadn’t sealed it up again). He’s been down there for nine days. We’ve heard him scampering around and walking on top of the heat ducts (he’s definitely not in them – he swatted at a bag of food I lowered through a crack between a vent and the subfloor). I’ve been in the crawl space FIVE TIMES, and he goes to ground and hides every time. I’ve put food down there (after eight days) and have been leaving water. I’ve literally done every single thing recommended in every single page I can find about this issue, and he won’t budge. Every neighbor/stray cat from two blocks away has ended up on my deck, looking for the nice food and getting themselves stuck in the humane trap – but not my cat. I’m at a loss.

  7. Anjela permalink
    January 1, 2017 3:00 pm

    My new cat is hiding on the window ledge behind the curtain and under my bed. It’s going on day 2 and I don’t think she has eaten yet. She appears to have had some water to drink though.

  8. Brooke Floren permalink
    April 30, 2017 10:52 pm

    My cat hid in our barn for a month (he is a mostly indoor cat so this was very different) when we got a kitten. I assume the problem was the presence of the playful and somewhat pushy kitten. We laid out food where he could get at it, and didn’t press the issue. If any of us even saw him he would immediately run away, either to deep under the barn or under the porch where we couldn’t get him. This, after being so tame that he would knock you down for a meal twice a day and always come when called. Finally after a month of this, I just did not feed him for three days, though he had access to water. (I am thinking the people with a cat under the cabinets should try this. No food within reach that will allow them to stay under the cabinets if they want to eat it.) This forced him to come out further to look for the food of our two barn cats. The third day, I went to feed the barn cats, and he was with them. He was totally calm, didn’t threaten to run away, didn’t resist me picking him up. He is asleep on my legs as I write this, completely back to normal and also now unconcerned about the new kitten. In fact, the kitten is asleep next to him. I think my cat simply turned into an irrational stressball for a while, and finally noticed nobody was going to cater his meals to his paranoia. It was very hard to understand, he was totally tame, then totally feral and pretty much nuts, then totally tame.

  9. Shree permalink
    March 14, 2018 5:56 pm

    Another cat scared my cat and she climbed on to a very tall tree, about 3 storeys high. When we were helping her get down she fell from that height and it gave me a mini-heart-attack to see that. She ran into the nearby car porch but there were dogs so she went under a car and it is as if she has disappeared to thin air. The dogs were around the car so we think she’s hiding inside the car, we chased away the dogs but kitty won’t come out. I’m really scared if she’s injured even though she bolted out to what she thought will be a safe place to hide. How long will she take to come out? We just let her be and came home, which is visible for her and a couple of yards away. Will she come home on her own? How long will it take? She knows this area very well and loves the food that we feed her. Will she come home on her own? We couldn’t find her under the car but mostly we feel she’s hiding somewhere underside of the car. She sort of shrinks herself to fit into tight spots usually, hence we felt she’s in there. She went into hiding about an hour ago and we’re at a loss of what to do now.

    • Shree permalink
      March 15, 2018 1:25 pm

      She just came home! Seems to be just fine, she ate her canned food and had some yoghurt. Walked all over the house, played for sometime, and now she’s sleeping like a baby 🙂

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