Cats seem like confident animals that show no fear. But this is often just a facade. Many cats are actual bundles of nerves and live in a near-constant state of anxiety. Frightened cats instinctively hide, and many cats hide in dark places when this happens.
Cats hide in dark places because they want to protect themselves from danger. When in a dark place, a cat cannot be seen. It can react quickly to any threat since it can see well, even in dim light. Cats may hide from other pets or unknown people in the house in dark corners. However, it may also be that the cat is recovering from overstimulation or even physical or emotional trauma.
Even though hiding is a standard way of life for domestic cats, it should not become a habit.
While all cats hide occasionally, they also need to be comfortable in open spaces. If your cat spends more time in the dark than in the light, something may be wrong with their living environment.
Is Hiding Normal in Cats?
If you have a cat, you are probably familiar with the cat’s instinct to hide.
Hiding is a natural way for cats to escape from nerve-wracking situations. It dramatically reduces the physical effects of stress on cats.
It could be anything if you’re wondering why your cat might be stressed.
Although cats appear bold and sassy, many domesticated cats are anxious. In addition to stress, cats can also become overstimulated.
Some cats are instinctively more nervous than others, but all cats suffer from some level of stress.
This is due to the cat’s hunting instinct. Cats are natural predators, but they also know that they can become prey just as quickly.
Over time, your cat usually learns to trust you and feel safe in your home. But this can take time and patience.
Most cats will maintain a hiding place even once you have gained a cat’s trust. This is the cat’s safe place and must be respected.
Why Do Cats Hide in Dark Places?
Cats often prefer to hide in dark places. There are some popular places where a cat often hides:
- Under the bed or sofa
- In a closet or drawer
- In a laundry basket
- Under a blanket or behind curtains
- In a litter box, especially if it has a hood
Cats choose a dark place as a hiding place for their protection.
The darker a place is, the more difficult it is for the cat to be seen. The ability to hide is essential for any cat.
Darkness offers other advantages to the cat. The most important of these is their eyesight.
Cats have enviable vision in low light. This means that cats can react quickly to any potential threat in the dark.
As a result, cats prefer to hide under the cover of darkness.
Although cats may become accustomed to brighter, more open spaces, most will eventually revert to the old habit of seeking shelter in a dimly lit place.
Why is My Cat Suddenly Hiding?
As mentioned earlier, hiding is reasonably expected in cats. However, sudden changes in behavior are always worth a closer look.
Something is wrong if your previously bold and confident cat hides in dark rooms for an extended period.
Your first thought may be that a disease is at play. But that’s not necessarily the case.
Before rushing to the vet, consider whether something has changed. For cats, change is anathema because they love routine. If anything deviates from the norm, it can cause stress.
Let’s look at the most common reasons cats suddenly hide in dark places. If you recognize any of these problems, you must restore the cat’s natural balance and confidence.
Before you find another explanation for hiding in the dark, ensure your cat isn’t just playing.
Cats love to chase, and human ankles can be tempting prey. If you find your cat hiding in dark places and then pouncing on you, it’s probably happening as part of their recreation.
This may be fun for your cat, but it’s not a good or sustainable way to play. Eventually, one of you will probably get hurt. It would be best if you broke your cat from this behavior.
However, it would be best not to yell at your cat to stop. A better solution is to play more with your cat.
Schedule at least two 20-minute play sessions per day. Your cat has a strong hunting instinct, so build the games around that.
Stalking and jumping on a string toy should satisfy your pet’s hunting instinct.
Another reason cats hide in dark places can be stimulus overload.
Because cats are constantly monitoring their environment, they can become overstimulated. Cats pay attention to every movement, and excessive noise can be tiring because of their keen hearing.
In addition, we’ve already touched on the cat’s ability to see well in low light. This is because the shape of the cat’s eye allows more light to enter.
Unfortunately, this is why cats are sensitive to bright or intense light. Prolonged light can cause pain and discomfort.
Retreating to a dark, quiet place provides a cat with much-needed rest.
If your cat is overstimulated regularly, consider ways to help him relax.
Perhaps invest in blackout blinds or close the curtains more often to balance light and dark.
Freedom of Territory
The more time a cat spends in one place, the more attached it becomes to that place.
Perhaps your cat initially hid in a dark area because she was frightened or anxious. Over time, she may have come to think of that place as her territory.
Cats need a territory to call their own. The only concern is if a cat becomes overly affectionate and jealously guards its territory.
The cat may refuse to let other people approach this part of the house and stay in place to prevent it.
This can become problematic. For example, if your cat has claimed the inside of a closet for itself, you may be hissed at or scratched when you try to get clothes out.
Ensure the cat has other territories in the home and isn’t overly possessive.
Changes in the Apartment
Cats hate and fear change. This means that any change in the daily routine will cause discomfort.
To deal with this, you will need to be patient. Your cat will likely be frightened and seek shelter under darkness.
If you have recently moved, it is normal for your cat to hide in its new home. After all, you have uprooted the cat from its familiar surroundings.
The cat must familiarize itself with the new territory and, more importantly, learn about potential dangers.
Never force a cat outdoors after a move. Let your cat hide as long as it sees fit.
Eventually, curiosity will outweigh caution, and the cat will feel the desire to explore the environment. Until then, go about your business as usual.
The arrival of a new pet into a household is always a challenge for the cat. However, cats can learn to get along with other animals over time.
Also, when two cats tolerate each other, that is a benefit. However, before this coexistence becomes a realistic possibility, there is a period of anxiety.
It is pretty reasonable to expect older cats to hide from new kittens.
Older cats are usually in a phase of life where they are reclusive. Kittens, on the other hand, are bursting with playful energy.
This can become tiring and exhausting for a cat heading toward old age.
You should expect an apartment cat to hide from new cats. Since cats have territorial behavior, disputes over alpha status in the house can also occur.
An apartment cat may rise to the challenge. Or it may prefer to hide and stay out of the way.
This game of hide and seek cannot last forever. It is unfair to your previous cat if you expect her to hide in a dark place for the rest of her life, never to be seen again.
Do everything possible to make both animals feel comfortable in the same space. If you are lucky, a friendship will develop.
Visitors Or New Family Members
Unfamiliar people can make cats just as uncomfortable as unfamiliar animals.
When you bring home a new baby, don’t expect your cat to be as excited and joyful as yourself.
The cat will be alarmed by the noisy new arrival demanding your attention. She will need time to adjust.
If you have a guest in the house, you should also expect that your cat will be afraid of him at first. Some cats automatically fear the worst from people until they are sure they mean no harm.
Encourage your guest to ignore the cat at first. Especially unwanted touching is not advisable.
Cats may be afraid of certain people, seemingly for no reason.
This is probably due to memories of trauma. Cats’ senses are not immediately able to detect nuanced differences between people.
For example, to a cat, all men with beards and deep voices are identical. If such a person has mistreated the cat in the past, it will automatically be afraid of the newcomer in the house.
The cat will need time to learn that this person is not dangerous.
Even something as simple as rearranging furniture in an apartment can upset a cat.
For a cat, everything in the apartment belongs to her. If you move furniture, you have invaded and trashed her territory.
If you move the furniture in your home, try to leave the food, water, beds, and litter box in a familiar place.
This will be less confusing for the cat, who will still know where to find these essential resources. If possible, leave her favorite spot untouched as well.
For example, if your cat retreats to the corner of a room, she has claimed that part of the house as her territory.
If you leave that area alone, your cat is less likely to hide to relieve stress.
More importantly, she will unlikely scratch the furniture to claim new territory.
Physical Or Emotional Trauma
As mentioned earlier, cats are fearful animals. Cats are constantly on guard for potential danger.
When a cat experiences a painful or frightening experience, its worst fears are amplified. The cat then believes that the world is just as dangerous as it suspected initially.
Understandably, this leads to hiding behavior. A traumatized cat will immediately seek out a place it thinks is safe. There, it stays until it is sure that the danger has passed.
How long this takes depends on the particular cat and what triggered this nervousness.
Some cats recover from a negative experience in a very short time. Others need to rebuild their confidence gradually.
Let your cat return to you at her own pace.
While you wait for it, go about your business as usual. You can take care of your cat by reassuring or offering treats if he has experienced something terrible.
However, avoid pampering your pet. At best, your cat will get used to it and manipulate you into doing its bidding.
At worst, you’ll cement the feeling that the cat has even more to fear.
It is always to be expected for a cat to hide after a visit to the vet.
Visiting a veterinarian, whether for dental work, vaccinations, boosters, or even a general checkup, can be traumatic for cats.
It involves a lot of unwanted touching and worse.
When you get home, leave the cat alone for a while. The first thing most cats do after the vet visit is find a dark place to relax.
If you are patient, the cat will emerge when it is ready. This is usually around the scheduled mealtime.
Accept that your cat may be a bit cranky for a few days. You will probably be blamed for any perceived mistreatment by a veterinarian.
If your bond is strong, however, this will soon pass. Cats can be resentful, but most will forgive a trusted owner after a short time.
Cats also often hide after a scary interaction. This may be another pet in your home, an animal in the neighborhood, or even yourself.
It’s easy to scare and traumatize a cat unintentionally.
If you are wondering if your cat is hiding from you, check to see if any of the following incidents have occurred recently:
- You have recently raised your voice to your cat or in his presence.
- You have inadvertently caused pain to your cat, such as by stepping on its tail.
- You have touched your cat more than usual.
- You have administered medication to your cat.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your pet may fear you.
A cat’s trust is hard to gain and easy to lose, so be aware of this. Take the time to show that you are not a threat to your cat’s safety.
Your cat may also have been frightened by another animal. Conflicts will happen if you have several cats in the same household.
Pheromone sprays can help manage these and keep all animals calm.
Likewise, a cat roaming outside may encounter an aggressive neighbor cat or a loud, barking dog.
Such encounters can also unsettle cats in the safety of their own home. A solution is to keep the cat indoors and let it hide until it recovers from such an ordeal.
How to Lure Cats Out of Hiding
If cats insist on hiding in dark places, you may need to lure them out of hiding occasionally.
Hiding under blankets, for example, is potentially harmful. It’s easy to injure a cat you didn’t know was under a blanket.
Coaxing a cat to come out of hiding requires tact. However, some techniques work well, and others you should not use.
Things you can do to coax your cat out of hiding:
- Keep your distance so the cat feels safe.
- Offer her enticing treats and toys.
- Speak softly and calmly to reassure the cat.
- Go about your business as usual.
What not to do under any circumstances:
- Pull the cat out of the hiding place by its paws or tail.
- Shoo the cat out of its hiding place with a broomstick.
- Shout or scold the cat.
- Scaring the cat with loud noises.
Once you have coaxed your cat out of its hiding place, observe its general behavior. If the cat goes about her business typically, the hiding is a one-time thing.
If she immediately tries to return to the hiding place, find out why she is so uncomfortable and fix the problem.
Is Hiding a Concern for Cats?
For many cat owners, it is commonplace to see their cats hiding and acting strangely. Cats exhibit many behaviors, many of which are confusing by human standards.
However, that doesn’t mean you should dismiss these behaviors as normal cat behavior. Even though hiding is a normal cat behavior, your pet should occasionally reappear.
Something is wrong if there is no way to lure your cat out of its hiding place. Look at the list of possible explanations and look for the most likely explanation.
In most cases, you can fix the problem yourself. However, you may need to seek professional advice. Make an appointment with a veterinarian if any of the following apply.
- Your cat is hiding and not eating.
- The cat becomes aggressive when you try to get it out of its hiding place.
- Hiding is accompanied by weight loss.
- Hiding becomes more commonplace than roaming.
In any of these cases, you should have your cat examined. Likely, your cat is not well, and hiding is a reaction to this.
Cats retreat when they are not well. They don’t want a potential rival to notice their weakened condition.
Overall, hiding is rarely a problem in cats. This behavior is as natural to cats as hunting and eating.
Cats naturally hide in dark places because their vision is better in dim light.
Just monitor the behavior and seek advice if it becomes problematic.