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

Jacque    Amherst, NY

12/10/2013 4:10:39 AM

I love this site. I have been a cat owner almost all my life (60yrs.). But I am still learning.
Also, is there a time limit for a hiding cat? When do they feel comfortable and come out when people are around?

CatChannelEditor    Irvine, CA

8/13/2012 9:00:08 AM

Erin -- I'm sorry that you can't find your cat. The tips above are good for finding a cat in your house, but you might have to look outdoors in this situation. If you'd like more feedback from fellow cat owners, post this question to our forum here: LINK Good luck

Erin    Columbus, OH

8/12/2012 8:04:26 AM

Hi! I've got an ex-feral cat who usually hides when I travel, but has always shown up again around 24 hrs. after I come home. However, it's been a week and there's been no sign of her. I've searched the house with no success. It's possible that she slipped outside, but she usually stays far away from anyone but me and the person who was petsitting doesn't believe any door was left open more than an inch except to grab a watering pot just a few feet away from the door. Is it possible that she's hiding in the house after this long?

omar    toledo, OH

6/8/2012 3:48:16 PM

A friend left 2 cats here for she was going out of town for a few months, a male and a female which have been living together since they were kittens. They were both frightened as expected, but the male got used to the place after a day. The female hisses at me a lot but lets me hold her if i get the chance. She keeps running around the house and i have no idea where she is. At night i hear her collar so i know shes getting her food. But the really wierd thing is that the 2 cats hiss at eachother now. Doesnt seem like they like eachother anymore

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