This cat's hiding in a box.

Why Cats Love to Hide

Nearly every cat owner has played hide-and-seek with their pet at least once in their lifetime. This hiding behavior is a remnant of the wild animal our cats once were before they became household pets.

While this behavior can be annoying or concerning for pet owners, hiding is a great way for your cat to feel safe, secure, and even cozy enough for a catnap. There are several different reasons why cats love to hide. Here are a few…

Why Do Cats Hide? They’re Curious!

What you can’t see is exciting and needs to be explored, right? This is especially true for cats! Felines are curious, adventurous, and even a little bit mischievous. They love nothing more than exploring their surroundings. Part of their design to explore is the search for the next great nap or hiding spot.

Your Cat Is on The Hunt… Or Feels Hunted

Cats’ innate curiosity comes from their basic instinct to hunt for their next meal. No matter how tasty the cat food you feed them is, they are programmed to investigate every dark corner, empty box, or high perch for more snacks, a mouse, or a bird.

Cats are not only predators – they are also prey in the wild. So, it is hardwired in their DNA to want to feel safe and protected. When they are hidden, they are in the clear from potential predators. Small, secure, out-of-the-way places with walls on all four sides help them stay worry-free and relaxed enough for one of their famous catnaps.

Cats need frequent naps due to exhaustion, since they are constantly at “high alert.” Even when asleep, cats need to be aware of threats around them. Although they may sleep most of the day, they do not always rest easy, mostly due to their sensitivity to sounds and motion, which keeps them alert and ready.

When cats sneak inside or between something, they are seeking the scent and warmth of that particular location. These cramped spots are even better if they happen to be toasty, such as behind a heater, refrigerator, or wood stove.

Some cats are more high-strung than others, so finding a secure hiding spot may be your cat’s own self-soothing method. If you know that your cat is frequently startled or anxious, you can help by creating a variety of cozy nooks for them to escape to whenever the world gets overwhelming. That way, they will be less likely to hide in dangerous or remote spots.

The Cat is Under Where?

Cats like to hide under things as well. When they are low to the ground, they can better plan their escape route. That is why cats love hiding under the bed, beneath furniture, or even under the Christmas tree during the holiday season.

Escaping to New Heights

Similarly, climbing to a perch high above their surroundings gives cats a bird’s eye view, lowering their anxiety. Outdoor cats love to climb trees, and owners should try to create a similar environment that gives their cat plenty of lofty options.

Don’t take it personally, but your cat may also climb to higher ground to avoid you. If you can’t reach them, you can’t make your cat do something they don’t want to do, like get in the cat carrier.

Climbing is good exercise for cats, since it sharpens their claws, and is another innate behavior leftover from when they had to hunt for their dinner in the trees. So, consider adding a cat tree with a built-in hiding spot if you live with a climber who also likes to hide.

Sometimes, A Cat Just Needs Their Space

We all need space and a hectic human home, especially one with other pets or children, can be too much for a cat. Slinking away for some peace and quiet is a signature move for many stressed-out felines. It is totally normal for cats to want to be alone, and you can support this by creating a cozy bed or safe hiding spot for them to head to when they need a time-out.

When to Worry About Your Concealed Kitty

Cats are known to seek solitude when they are not feeling well. This behavior comes from their wild-at-heart history. In the wild, if an animal is sick, it is more vulnerable to predators. So, it is critical to find a good hiding spot from any predators if unwell. Evolutionarily, it could also be advantageous for a sick member of a group (or pride as a group of cats is called) to isolate themselves to avoid infecting other family members. In traditional herd behavior, the group typically abandons weak members, so cats may also try to hide their illness to avoid being left behind.

If your cat is throwing up, not eating, having diarrhea, or you notice they are hiding more often, it’s time for a trip to your vet.

Dangerous Cat Hiding Spots

Try to keep your cat’s disappearing act out of the garage. Everything from toxic chemicals to the car itself make your garage a very unsafe space.

Closets and cabinets are also a no-go, since detergents, cleaning products, and other items often stored in these places are toxic if consumed by curious cats.

Keeping Kitty Safe

Truly kitty-proofing your entire home is impossible, since cats are endlessly clever and creative animals, but here are a few tips to make things safer:

  1. Try not to alarm your cat by unexpectedly encroaching on one of their hiding spots. Also, always check inside vehicles, washing machines, and woodstoves before turning them on, just in case your cat is snuggled up inside.
  2. Do a clean sweep of your cat’s typical hiding spots for dangerous objects (sharp, electrical, or poisonous).
  3. Keep doors and windows securely shut.
  4. Create cozy, safe, and inviting hiding spots so that your cat avoids dangerous locations. A cardboard box with a fuzzy blanket inside, placed in a quiet destination, will keep any kitty out of harm’s way.

If your mischievous cat does get themselves stuck, try not to panic. Your pet is a sensitive being and will pick up on your anxious state. Instead, approach your trapped kitty slowly and cautiously. Do not yell or do anything to exacerbate the situation.