What should I do when my cat goes into hiding?

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, advises on how to draw scared cats out from under the bed.

By Jeanne Adlon | Posted: September 12, 2008 3 a.m. EDT

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Q: Sometimes, I can’t find my cat anywhere in the house. What should I do?

A: There are many reasons why your cat might be “out of sight.” It might be hiding, frightened or simply asserting the right to its own space. Many cats will flee if they hear loud noises or if strangers come into the house. If so, chasing after them or calling their names might make them more frightened.

One trick I have learned is that, if they really don’t want to be found, the more you look for them, the more they hide. Sometimes on cat-sitting house calls, I sit quietly and motionless, waiting for missing cats to appear. When they do, I usually am greeted by “deer in the headlights” stares, but at least I know they are inside.

Cats also are very clever at finding places that you would not believe they could squeeze into. On one house call, I finally located a missing kitty way behind some books on a bookshelf (thanks to her tail being in view.)

Cats can disappear at the worst times, such as when you are leaving for work. If you simply can’t wait it out, do not overlook any place even if you think it is too small. Check the back of closets, open dresser drawers, under the stove, radiator, refrigerator and yes, in the chimney. Under the bed always is popular, but sometimes cats get into the box springs by tearing the bottom fabric; so also check for a sagging lump under the bed. If you can’t find them, go to their food areas. Cats have a strong sense of smell and activity with their food bowls and food odors might trigger an appearance.

You might never find all of your cat’s hiding places, and that is just part of living with our independent feline friends. However, as long as you know your cat is safely in the house and not injured, it will come out eventually.

Jeanne’s Tip of the Week:

If you have kittens, check all closets, the refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher, reclining chair and dresser drawers before closing them. Also make sure the toilet seat is down and the lid closed. Kittens are very fast and can end up in the wrong places quickly. More tips

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Reader Comments

Cookie    Apple Valley, MN

5/29/2015 12:27:45 PM

On moving day we had all the furniture and boxes out--absolutely empty house--and could not find the cat. I was sure she had escaped outside. I got down on my back on the floor to rest, and from this new vantage point, saw her sitting on top of the kitchen cabinets (never been up there before). Had to unpack a chair to get her down.

Lizzie    Meridian, ID

5/23/2015 1:17:48 PM

The article was reassuring. We were chosen by "Eleanor" on Thursday 5/21/15 and brought her home. Zoom! to behind the dryer. Stayed put, but she did eat, pretty much all day yesterday. This morning, much to our amazement, she was out in the studio (actually our garage), fully engaged with resident cat "Ranger" w/o any hissing or growling. Then Zoom! again to behind the dryer. Time will work its magic we know. Should add that Ranger has been a total PRINCE.

Billie    madison, WI

4/6/2015 10:21:41 PM

After 12 hours of frantic searching, my cat decided to appear out of thin air. I have no idea where he may have been hiding but I tore my house apart looking for the little bugger. Thankfully, he is safe and I can rest peacefully tonight. He, however, is grounded.

Amber    anchorage ak, AK

4/3/2015 12:38:30 AM

so we have our laundry room and there is a hole to the bathtub or that leads to the bathtub and my cat shes a calico calico cat and we are babies or cat sitting black cat and a gray cat the black cat was terand she she the cat is and she is still in the hiding she was we gave her some food and she the cat is still hiding and I gave her food and then she went back in dose anyone have ideas how to get her out and she has not been out for 4 days but she is alive.

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