Why cats hide and when you should be concerned

Cat hides under steps

Cats love knocking things off shelves, kneading pillows with their paws, and other weird but perfectly normal habits. When it comes to hiding, it can be normal cat behavior or a sign that something is wrong with your feline friend. Why do cats hide and when should you be concerned? 

Table of contents 

Is hiding normal for cats? 

Hiding is completely normal behavior for cats and is not necessarily a reason for concern, according to Feline Behavior Solutions. Cat parents often find their feline friends under the bed, in the closet, on a shelf, and pretty much anywhere else they may deem cozy and removed. Even well-adjusted cats like sneaking away to safe places to relax and nap.  

Hiding places provide warmth, quiet, safety, and even a good vantage point to keep watch over their surroundings. Put simply, cats enjoy being in enclosed spaces because they like to feel safe and secure. If your cat regularly hides, they probably have a favorite spot or their hiding is patterned, like settling in near the water heater or clothes dryer in the colder months. 

Why do cats hide? 

There are many reasons why your cat may be hiding aside from wanting some quiet nap time. 

  • Change – Change can be stressful. If something has changed in your household, you should not be surprised if your cat hides until they are able to get used to unfamiliar smells, sounds, and sights. Fear Free Pets notes that this can result from something as small as a new chair or as big as a new family member. Cats also often hide when they are introduced to a new home, either through being adopted or moving houses with their family. 
  • Overstimulation – Loud sounds, children running around, household visitors, and anything else causing a commotion can be overwhelming for your cat. When stressed, they are likely to go find a quiet place to take a break from the household busyness.
  • Fear – When stressed and frightened by a perceived threat such as a dog, stranger or loud noise, cats often respond by hiding. This fear response is likely to be only temporary, so your cat will only hide until they feel safe again. 
  • Discomfort – It is very common for cats to retreat and hide when they are experiencing physical discomfort. Particularly with age, cats can slow down and develop joint discomfort. Great Pet Care notes that in nature, cats are prey to larger animals and discomfort can make them easy targets. Staying out of sight is a way for cats to hide any signs of weakness from potential predators. 
  • Illness – Similar to how cats may conceal physical discomfort, hiding signs of sickness is an instinctive way for them to avoid attention from predators. Underlying health issues can send your cat under the bed for extended periods of time, potentially causing their health to further decline while their condition goes unaddressed, warns Great Pet Care. 

When to be concerned 

Not all cases of a hiding cat are cause for concern. Sometimes they just need some peace and quiet or a safe space to adjust to new things. There are some subtle indicators cat parents can keep an eye out for that signal something may be amiss with their feline friend: 

  • Sudden behavior changes – When a social cat suddenly starts hiding, or when your cat’s hiding behaviors abruptly change and hiding periods lengthen, you should take note. The Pet Health Network emphasizes that sudden changes in behavior can indicate that your cat is experiencing stress, fear, discomfort, or a medical issue. You know your cat and their habits best, so if something feels different about their hiding behavior, it is best to consult your veterinarian. 
  • Body language – It is important to pay attention to your cat’s body language when they hide. If they are just looking for some cozy alone time, your cat will appear relaxed—they may sprawl across the floor or seem uninterested in anything going on around them. If your cat is hiding because they are stressed, afraid, and something else is going on, they may appear more tense. Fear Free Pets notes that dilated pupils, flattened ears, and a tightly tucked body with a closely wrapped tail are all potential signs of stress. Stiffness and lack of movement are clear signs that your cat is experiencing joint discomfort. 
  • Other indicators – It is easy to understand why noticing signs of your cat being sick or otherwise uncomfortable can be difficult when they are hiding from you all day. Take note of any other behaviors that may accompany hiding, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, sleeping more than usual, and bathroom accidents. If you notice these or other symptoms, contact your veterinarian. 

What should you do? 

If your cat is hiding more than usual, your first call should be to your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to help you rule out and address any medical issues that may be causing your feline friend to not feel well. 

Once you have ruled out any underlying medical issues, you can let your cat make the decision to come out of hiding on their own. Forcing things can damage the trust between you and your feline companion. Just make sure your cat is comfortable and has easy access to food, water, and their litterbox.  

Getting used to anything new can take time. You can help your cat adjust to new people by leaving an item of clothing with their scent on it around the house for your cat to inspect. Treats and toys may be effective motivators for some cats to come out of hiding.   

How can ElleVet CBD + CBDA help your cat? 

Stress can negatively impact the physical and mental health of your feline friend. And seeing them stressed or fearful isn’t pleasant for you, either! ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA feline oil and feline paste can help relax your stressed cat and support an adjustment to household changes and overstimulation. In addressing your cat’s stress, ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA can lead to improved overall well-being and help them manage their fear-based response.  

ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products also work extremely well for joint discomfort. If your cat is hiding because they are physically uncomfortable, CBD + CBDA can help get them back on their feet and running the house again. ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA works incredibly well for cats, and the dosing is specific for cats. This is so important because the wrong dose can be the difference between changing the life of your cat or little to no improvement.  In addition, ElleVet has done long-term safety studies on cats so you know that the product is safe. As any cat parent knows, a product safe for cats can be difficult to find!  

As always, consult your veterinarian about any mental or physical health issues your cat may be experiencing. For any questions about ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products or how CBD can help your feline friend have the best quality of life, give us a call (844-673-7287) or send us an email ([email protected]). We are here to help. 

Bottom line 

While hiding is perfectly normal cat behavior, any increases in your cat’s hiding habits can signal more serious issues like stress or discomfort. ElleVet is here to help! You know your cat best—take note of any changes in their regular behavior and consult your veterinarian if you suspect your feline friend may have a medical issue.  

Any health or medical information in ElleVet blogs is from a variety of public and reputable sources. This information is intended as an educational resource only and is not a substitute for expert professional care.