Why Is My Cat Hiding?

Why is my cat hiding?

There are several reasons your cat may hide, and this is behaviour the pet owner should be alert to. Some cats are naturally quite shy and prefer to remain out of the way.

Pet owners can do their bit to try and bring out the confidence and trust in cats, but some cats will always just prefer to remain in the background.

Some cats are afraid of strangers, we had a cat who was fine with just us around, but as soon as a stranger came up to the house, he would run and hide. That was just his inherent nature, and not something to be overly concerned about.

Some cats like to hide because they can. Our cat Levi loves to hop into cupboards when we’re not looking. He’s always been this way, so again, it’s not a great concern. If we can’t find him, we start looking in the cupboards. He’s usually in one of them.

Signs of illness

Any changes in your cat’s behaviour warrants concern and that includes hiding. It may be a clue that something is bothering your cat, either stress, fear or possible sickness. If you have an otherwise outgoing cat who suddenly hides, it could be an indicator that there is an underlying problem.

Cats are very stoic by nature and can hide signs of pain well. This is why the pet owner needs to be aware of what’s normal in our cats and alert to changes in behaviour as well as other symptoms. Common signs your cat does not well vary from disease to disease, but common symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased vocalisation (meowing more)
  • Changes in litter box habits
  • Sleeping more

Physical symptoms may include:

  • Increased or decreased thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Unkempt coat

It is always a good idea if you notice changes in behaviour or any physical symptoms that you seek veterinary attention.

Stress, fear or anxiety

It is normal for a new cat to hide for the first few days. Moving in with a new family can be quite stressful for a cat who should not be forced to come out. All cats need is a little time and space to adjust. You can help by regularly trying to coax him out with a soft voice and possibly some tasty treats or a cat toy.

Hiding may also occur if you move house. Again, it just takes a little time for your cat to adjust to the new environment. Cats by nature don’t like change and will retreat for a while until they feel comfortable. If you have recently moved house, it is always a good idea to confine your cat to a small area of the house for a few days, bring along his favourite bed, food bowls and other familiar objects that may be of comfort to him.

Some cats are okay with their own human family, but if a stranger visits the home, they will hide. We have to make allowances for their individual levels of comfort. Some cats
will be all over a stranger, others will run for cover.

Fireworks and thunderstorms are common fears among cats and dogs who will often seek out somewhere to hide.

Pregnancy and birth

A pregnant female nearing her due date may make a nest in an out of the way place in preparation for the birth of her kittens. This is normal behaviour, and it makes sense. In the wild, a new mother and her kittens are vulnerable to predators, so it makes sense that she would choose to make a nest where she can’t be found by predators. Of course, what she deems to be a suitable location may not be somewhere you would choose. It is a good idea to provide the expectant mother with a nesting box, it should be placed in a quiet location, but somewhere you can easily access it.


Some cats love to hide in boxes or paper bags that you leave lying around the place. Again, this is normal and quite fun for your cat.

Hiding in inappropriate spots

Only you know your cat and what is normal for him. But if your cat is hiding, make sure it is in a suitable location. Under the bed, in a wardrobe, fine. What becomes dangerous is if they hide in appliances such as washing machines or tumble dryers. It is important to ensure that your cat never has access to these machines as many cats have been killed when the unaware owner turns on the appliance unaware the cat is in there.


  • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio

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