Why do cats like to hide away? And what should you do if your timid tabby spends hours tucked away out of sight rather than enjoying time with you?
Posted: 03 July 2020
Even the most confident of cats need some me-time to feel safe and secure and will take themselves off somewhere quiet and private to recharge. That’s why all cats deserve a cosy hideaway to withdraw from the world when they need to.
Rehoming charity Battersea advises: “Hiding places are one of your cat’s basic needs. Providing a selection of possible options, such as some open cupboard doors, areas under beds, cardboard boxes and gaps behind sofas will give your cat a choice of places to go when they feel scared.”
There are all sorts of reasons why a cat might go into hiding. The most obvious is that they do it to feel safe, and to protect themselves from whatever it is they perceive as dangerous or stressful.
Battersea says: “Cats as a species are self-reliant, so when faced with a difficult situation, your cat would naturally prefer to avoid it rather than charge in and fight. They may be frightened or just wary about something unfamiliar and might want to keep out of the way, just in case.”
Feline welfare charity Cats Protection adds: “Hiding is a way of helping shy cats cope with being afraid or anxious. If your cat disappears to a cupboard or under a bed when a stranger enters the house, try to leave them to it.”
Some of the things that may cause your cat to hide include:
Cats are all individuals, and it may be that you have a cat that’s simply timid by nature. This can be down to a combination of genetics, a lack of interaction with humans during their formative, first eight weeks of life or a bad experience. Cats Protection states: “If your cat hasn’t been exposed to a full range of experiences (from unfamiliar sounds to a wide range of people), the likelihood of it being scared of these experiences will increase.”
However, there are lots of ways that cat guardians can help a shy, nervous or timid cat come out of their shell. Cats Protection recommends:
As your cat gains confidence, start talking to them quietly in a calming tone, rewarding them with a treat if they approach you. At first, give the treat as soon as they approach, but gradually increase the time between the approach and the treat. Over a period of weeks, work up to calmly stroking your cat once or twice before giving the treat. Use small toys you can gently throw for them – such as a ball of foil, scrunched up paper or a ping pong ball – so they get used to the idea that you’re fun (and safe) to be around. Fishing rod toys allow your cat to interact with you without feeling threatened by close contact.
Please note, that due to coronavirus restrictions, veterinary practices are abiding by set protocols, in line with national guidelines from the British Veterinary Association and the Government. Urgent cases and emergencies will still be treated – but check with your local practice about the procedures they have in place to keep people, as well as animals, safe.
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Sources: Battersea.org.uk, cats.org.uk