If you’ve ever owned cats and dogs, or even if you’ve even just read a few garfield comics, you know these pets live very different day-to-day lives.
dogs are outgoing, needy, friendly, and excitable. you always know where they are because most of the time they are bothering you to pay attention, play or eat.
Cats can behave in a similar way. Not all felines play into the stereotype of being aloof or aloof, but they’re certainly more independent than their canine counterparts. as such, you may not always know where your cat is. presumably he or she is fine; just wasting the day in a comfortable place away from the hustle and bustle of your home. we’ll walk you through some of your cat’s common hiding places so you know where to look.
why do cats hide?
hiding behavior in cats is usually normal and mostly harmless, says marci koski, certified feline behaviourist.
“Cats are both predators and prey in the wild,” he says. “They are instinctively driven to hide when they are hunting prey and to avoid falling prey to other predators.”
ingrid johnson, certified feline behavior consultant, adds, “hiding makes them feel like their backs are covered and they’re safe. it’s a self-preservation behavior for when something unknown happens around them.”
On the other hand, Johnson also says cats tend to hide when they’re sick and may not hide in their usual favorite spots. “When they don’t feel well, they will try to get away from their normal environment. They will go to strange places. it’s almost like they’re trying not to alert other household members to your illness.”
Cat owners can also get into trouble when attractive hiding places are potential threats to their cat’s safety. Read on to learn about seven of the most common cat hiding places and what to do if you find your cat hiding there.
where do cats hide?
in your closet
when many cats are scared, they tend to retreat to the master bedroom.
“It has a strong odor and often smells strongly of its owner,” Johnson says.
The closet is inviting because it’s dark and there are lots of soft items, plus an option for climbing high: “Some cats like to climb up and look at things from above,” Johnson said.
behind a dresser
on the other hand, johnson says, some cats tend to live on the bottom.
“They’re not able to jump or they just don’t like the height,” he said.
If your dresser is set slightly away from the wall, it could make an attractive hiding place for your cat. some cats will even push a dresser drawer from behind and climb in, but be careful yours doesn’t get stuck in there. Koski recommends deterring your cat with scents like citrus, mint, and cinnamon if you’d rather keep your cat away from this space.
The main hiding place in your bedroom is under the bed. You may also find cats hiding under sofas or chairs when they are scared. Both Koski and Johnson agree that this is a pretty benign hiding place, unless you’re talking about a piece of furniture like a recliner or sofa with a pull-out bed. Cats should be discouraged from exploring the nooks and crannies below such areas because of all the moving parts that can injure them.
near the oven or heater
Another common thread in cat hideouts is the animal’s desire to seek warmth. this is something homeowners will commonly see during the winter, but definitely not unique to December, January, and February in the northern states.
one of the hottest places in your home is the oven, which is obviously a dangerous area for your cat. keep it inaccessible by locking the basement or boiler room door at all times. if that’s not possible for any reason, use a gate that you know your cat can’t jump over.
In the event your cat does go in there, it’s important to find ways to discourage him from wanting to go back in there again. however, as koski explains, there is some risk in the way you associate negative consequences with hiding.
“To discourage cats, don’t scare them out of hiding, yell at them, or throw water at them,” she says. “This can only create fear and damage your relationship with the cat.”
instead, use the scents mentioned above, such as mint and citrus, which can make the area unsightly. Koski also says you can place a vinyl rug in the area with the nubs pointing up. “they will find it very uncomfortable to walk.”
near the dryer
Another warm spot, but this one has the added bonus of being filled with soft, cuddly sheets, towels, and clothing. but just like the oven, the dryer can be a dangerous hiding place for obvious reasons (you turn it on without realizing the cat got in there) and less obvious ones (electrocution).
If you can keep this device off limits, great. if not, johnson mentions putting a penny inside an aluminum soda can and leaving it in the dryer when not in use.
“It will scare them when they jump,” he says, “but that scare will be associated with the appliance and not you.”
A great alternative: Give your cat a warm bed. koski says you can buy pet beds that start to heat up every time your cat steps on them. throw in a sheet or towel, and it’s definitely warmer, more comfortable, and safer than tumble drying.
inside cardboard boxes
This is another great alternative to the oven or dryer, and the great part is that boxes already naturally attract cats because cardboard insulates.
“Cardboard boxes help them regulate their body temperature without wasting energy,” Johnson says. “It’s a very common hiding place and something you can encourage your cat to spend time in regularly without a lot of work.”
“Cardboard boxes are great places for cats to hide,” she says. “You can use these as alternatives to hiding places you don’t want your cats to be in by decorating them with familiar bedding, treats, catnip, or toys.”
along a marble or tile floor
Johnson notes that this is a popular hiding place for cats that have fallen ill. “When they have a fever, nausea or are about to die, cats seek cold instead of heat.” if he’s lying in a corner on cooler flooring, this could be a sign that his cat should be examined by a vet.
Koski and Johnson agree that you should also see your veterinarian if the hiding behavior is new or has suddenly and significantly increased.
“any change in your cat’s regular behavior, including a desire to hide, or if hiding interferes with the daily activities your cat needs to do, such as eating, drinking, and using the bathroom, could be cause for concern,” says koski.
john gilpatrick is a freelance writer who believes rabbits make the best pets.