Cat owners know the pure panic of being unable to find their furry feline friends. Likewise, they are all familiar with the ambush tactics of hiding under a bed or in a box and then suddenly jumping out, claws extended to attack the nearest ankle. Why do they do it? The truth is that cats are often attributed with mysterious behavior. Surprisingly, after living with them for thousands of years, humans actually have a pretty good grasp of what causes this sort of behavior. It’s not as bad as it seems. In fact, hiding is normal behavior. Here are the top five reasons your cat likes to hide.
If you have a pregnant cat, expect her to start scoping out good hiding spots. Hiding is a normal kitty urge because she is more vulnerable in her gravid state. She won’t move as quickly, and staying hidden helps to keep her safe. However, there is another reason she will busy herself checking out hard-to-reach, dark and out-of-the-way places. Cats prefer to give birth in a nice safe hiding spot. There are two good reasons for this. Firstly, it is a way to protect the mother and newborn kittens from anything that might make them an easy snack. Her maternal instincts will tell her this is the best choice for the birthing process. Secondly, a new mother cat needs a place for the kittens to spend their first few weeks. Kittens are blind and helpless, but they won’t stay that way for long. By keeping them in an enclosed space, she can ensure that the babies are at least old enough to climb and jump a small distance before they leave. Giving birth is by far the cutest and usually, the messiest reason cats hide.
2. Life is So Busy and Loud
Unlike excess stress, daily life is just a bit much at times. In cities, there are cars and planes, people, dogs and lots of sounds. In the countryside, there are insects, birds, weather and so much more. All of that is loud. Cats have a much better sense of hearing than humans, and a quiet, cuddly hiding spot can be a relief. Additionally, the smells in human homes are stronger than we think. Like dogs, felines have a sense of smell that is thousands of times stronger than ours. We smell dinner, but the cat smells everything in the kitchen, bathroom, pollution in the air, and even our armpits. According to a medical paper from the University of Illinois, cats have an extra sense that comes from the vomeronasal organ, also known as the Jacobsen’s organ. Essentially it allows them to ‘see’ the world through their nose. For us, a clean house smells fresh, but to your pet, the cleansers, soaps, water, and even mops and cleaning rags all have a smell. A hiding spot that smells like your furry friend can enrobe them in a familiar scent and help block out the overwhelming additional odors we humans never notice.
3. Sunny Naps Versus Dark Naps
You probably noticed your cat blissfully passed out in a sunny spot. These sun naps are part of their love of warmth. However, you may also catch them with a paw over their face. Doing that is cute, but it also blocks the light. Too much light prevents deeper sleep. Thus, a tired cat may seek out a dark hiding spot to get a solid rest. Hiding like this isn’t about escaping stimulus or any living thing. Instead, it’s all about getting a good rest. This is also a great way to regulate your temperature when you’re covered in a fur coat year round.
4. Sneaky Surveillance
Keeping an eye on your surroundings is a great way to stay safe. When no one notices you are there, it’s like doubling the precaution. When your cat seeks out a private spot to scope out its territory, it’s a protective urge. Accept the compliment for what it is. If your beloved pet turns their back to you or leaves the room to hide and keep tabs on the house, they are both trusting you not to be the problem and helping to care for you by keeping you safe. Rest easy knowing that your furry friend is on the job making sure bugs, rodents, and other intruders don’t ‘get you.’
5. On The Prowl
Both hunting and play-fighting often start with a hidden cat. Catching things and people off guard is a smart way to win the fight. Felines are extremely intelligent, successful hunters. Challenging you to a battle helps them hone their cat skills and stay sharp. A playful indoor cat may be a menace to your ankles, but they are only hiding and amusing you for the good of the house. In the kitty’s opinion, it’s not only the cat who needs to stay battle-ready, but also you. Your pet is training you, poor, furless, no-claws creature that you are, to hunt well enough that you can sleep all day too.
Bonus: Cats Hide Because of Stress, Illness, and Pain
Although we wouldn’t say that pain, sickness, or stress are likable reasons to hide, cats will squirrel themselves away for sadder purposes. Especially if your beloved pet has had a sudden change of behavior, hiding can be a significant clue that something is wrong. Pay attention if your cat starts hiding in ways they haven’t done before. Escaping from danger is a natural instinct, and so is self-protection. Hiding to handle fear and hurt is a normal reaction in most species. Whether it’s a wolf avoiding a show of weakness in front of their pack or a human afraid of a thief breaking into their home, becoming unseen is a great way to stop the problem. Always take the time to find your cat and ensure they aren’t injured or sick. Dealing with stress can be a bit trickier. According to Handicapped Pets, your cat may simply need to feel safe. When it’s external, like another pet or thunder, there are ways to comfort your hiding cat. Sometimes providing a better hiding spot is the answer. For tougher problems, a vet may recommend medical or natural solutions to aid the feline temperament.
Whether they are seeking security, looking for a quiet sleeping spot, or looking to make mischief, let your cat hide. There’s no reason to assume something is wrong. Cats like to hide. If you are small, furry, and adept at both hunting and naps, it’s just in your nature to curl up out of sight. The question, why do cats like to hide, has plenty of non-mysterious answers, and all of them are fairly obvious once you know a bit more about them.