Why Do Cats Like Going Under the Covers?

Children love to play peek-a-boo. Ever wondered why? It’s because of something called object permanence. Object permanence involves understanding items and people exist even when you can’t see or hear them. Some people think cats don’t remember you’re there, so they are surprised. But cats do have object permanence due to their natural hunting skills. If this isn’t why they like hiding under the covers, what is?

Why does my cat like going under covers and blankets?

You might wonder if it is bad for my cat to like being under the covers? Or do they like it? Does it mean they love me? There are many reasons for a cat to go under the covers or the blankets.

Cats like to keep warm

Cats love blankets and pillows–anything soft. Blankets can provide a feeling of warmth and safety for your cat. If your cat is hiding under the covers, it may be too cold for them and they want to be warm. Body heat becomes trapped in the enclosed space, ensuring the temperature stays comfortable.

Cat Behavioralist Katenna Jones notes, “Cats can learn that going under the covers is a great way to retain heat and make a little hot pocket.”

You can tell if your cat is cold if they are shivering, hunching down, puffed up, or their extremities are cold to the touch. Temperatures under 45 degrees are too low for a feline. If a cat is just cold, you can bring them into a warm room. If you suspect hypothermia, contact a veterinarian immediately as that is an emergency.

Cats like to hide

If your cat is hiding under the covers, it’s usually for two reasons: preying instincts or nervousness. Hiding under blankets is a natural preying instinct for cats. Dr. Katenna Jones agrees: “Cats are a prey species, so hiding is a normal part of their behavioral repertoire.”

Cats often jump from under the blankets to try and playfully attack your feet or hands.

Tiger hiding behind leaves:

Tiger-hiding-behind-leaves

Cat also hiding behind leaves:
Cat-also-hiding-behind-leaves

Your cat may be hiding under the covers due to anxiety or nervousness. Your cat may be overwhelmed with a potential new environment or outside stressor. Give your cat space and monitor further behavior changes. If you are concerned, see a vet.

Cats like dark places

Most feline behaviors can be traced back to their instincts. In this case, cats hide in dark places because it’s the perfect escape. Small places are hard for predators to get into to attack. Dark spots are great because kittens can see in the dark. Your cat usually likes these places because it allows them to destress.

Your cat is scared or anxious 

The cat could be underneath the blankets due to anxiety. If something large has changed, cats tend to escape to a familiar place, which might be your bed, where your scent is. Under these circumstances, give your cat a few days or even weeks to get used to the new surroundings. If the behavior continues, seek the advice of a vet.

Your Cat Wants to be Close to You

Have you ever woken up with your cat underneath the covers cuddling? Cats often sleep in piles together to protect each other while sleeping. It’s a sign of affection your cat trusts you enough to sleep together. Additionally, it could be because your cat wants to be near you while you’re in a vulnerable state.

Your Cat has a “Bush Dweller” instinct

Cats have two tendencies regarding instincts to hide: tree dweller and bush dweller. Tree dweller cats tend to be more natural climbers who enjoy high spaces. Bush dwellers enjoy low spaces and hiding more than climbing. If your cat hides under the covers and similar areas, your cat may be a bush dweller.

Your Blanket Smell Like You

Cats use scent as one of their primary senses. It’s how they investigate their environment and mark their territory. We live with them 24/7; cats love our smells. Cats may hide under the blankets because they have your scent all over them. It’s a comfort to the cat, especially if left alone.

Your Cat Doesn’t Feel Well

It’s the natural instinct of a cat to hide when they aren’t feeling well. It’s one of the primary signs something wrong is going on with your cat. Watch your kitten for other signs of illness, and if concerned, see a vet.

If your cat loves going under blankets, they will likely also love these games.

Katenna Jones says, “If your cat really likes getting under the covers, provide plenty of hiding spots, such as houses or tunnels for them to explore.” 

Play keeps your cats active and happy, especially if they are a single cat. A cat will play for hours, but they can get tired of the same things.

Here are a few new games that will provide plenty of stimulation for your cat:

  • Toy Under a Blanket: This is an easy game to play. You put a toy under the blankets and push it up so the cat can see the imprint. The cat’s instincts will cause them to be attracted to it and pounce. You can move the toy around to keep the cat’s attention.
  • Hide and Seek: Surprisingly, cats love to play hide and seek. Cats will hide around corners and under the bed, then jump out and attack! You can play this by hiding and then calling for them.
  • Tag: Cats love to play tag. They will chase each other back and forth for hours. You can play by tapping your cat on the head to signal play and then run away. It may take a couple of tries for them to understand.
  • Large Paper Bag: Cats are attracted to paper bags and boxes. If you give them one, let them jump inside, you can poke the sides. They’ll try to catch your fingers or a toy instead.

FAQ

Should I cover my cat with a blanket?

You can cover your kitten or cat with a blanket. Fuzzy blankets are preferred because it reminds them of their mothers. Just take care not to cover their mouth and nose directly.

Can my cat breathe under blankets?

Yes, cats can breathe under the blankets. If you cover yourself with a blanket, you can breathe, right? While it may get hot underneath, your cat shouldn’t be in danger unless the cover directly covers their mouth and nose.

How can I keep my cat from hiding under my blankets?

Hiding is a natural predator instinct, and cats hide for various reasons. If you want to keep your cats away from your blankets, you will have to remove access. You can remove access by closing off the door to that room or putting the blankets away during the day.

Why do other cats hate being under covers? 

Not all cats like going under blankets. Some cats find it too hot or anxiety-inducing trapped in a small space. Others don’t like to feel trapped. But if yours does, there is nothing necessarily wrong with this.

Is it safe for my cat to sleep under the covers?

Yes, it’s safe for a cat to sleep under the covers. Blankets allow room for oxygen to pass through, so there is no risk of suffocation. When they get uncomfortable, they will either let you know or remove themselves.

Is there anything the owner can/should do to help their cats? 

Dr. Jones says, “If your cat really likes getting under the covers, provide plenty of hiding spots, such as houses or tunnels for them to explore.”

Authors

  • Elizabeth Lasley

    Elizabeth is an animal lover who is owned by three cats: Vivan, Burr, and Puck. Her passion for writing started in the 9th grade when she began writing her novel. She hasn't stopped since.

  • Katenna Jones, Cat Behaviorist

    Katenna Jones is an Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (ACAAB) and Certified Cat Behavior Consultant. Katenna works with families and their cats and dogs in person or virtually with her company Jones Animal Behavior in Rhode Island. She earned a Master's in Psychology, with a focus on animal behavior, from Brown University.