A cat going missing suddenly is a worrying time for any owner, but it’s much more likely to happen when you have an outdoor cat. However, indoor cats can also disappear for hours, and even days. Cats are incredibly good at avoiding detection inside the family home.
Walk around your property shaking a bag of kibble or their favorite food. If this doesn’t work, sprinkle catnip in various open spaces to lure out your pet. Upturned cardboard boxes can also make irresistible feline traps that tempt your cat out of its hiding place.
Cats are mischievous and enjoy watching humans hunt high and low for them. Keep an eye on your pet’s health though, as cats sometimes hide in dark places or difficult-to-reach areas because they’re feeling unwell. This guide explains how to track down a missing cat in a house or apartment.
How Do You Find a New Cat in Your House?
When a cat enters a new home, the first thing they’ll look for is a good hiding place. There are specific locales that you’re most likely to find your pet. These include:
- Underneath the furniture, such as sofas and beds
- Inside drawers, especially those that contain soft clothing, or laundry hampers
- Inside, or on top of, closets
- Inside warm electrical appliances, such as clothes dryers
- Inside empty boxes, plant pots, or even suitcases and grocery bags
- Underneath the sink
- Behind long, floor-length curtains
- Inside a crawlspace
- In the basement or the attic
- In the garage or a garden shed
Some of these spaces are safer than others. A cat hiding atop a closet, for example, looks frightening but is perfectly harmless. Felines are adept at judging distances before jumping, and would have determined a safe way down.
Likewise, lurking under furniture is highly unlikely to end badly. However, some of these locations are packed with potential dangers. Take the dryer, for example.
This can be irresistible to cats due to the warmth. If there are towels and bedding in the machine, so much the better for napping on. You must always check a dryer before starting a cycle.
Garages and sheds are equally dangerous. Your cat is hiding out in these locations as they’re rarely populated. They also provide quick and easy shelter when your pet is caught in the rain.
Do you store potentially toxic chemicals in these buildings, though? And can you be sure that your cat is not sleeping under your car?
The risk of chemicals is also ever-present under a sink. Your pet may gravitate here as they have found a dripping water source.
As many cats find drinking water from a bowl to be dull, they’ll enjoy this alternative. If they mix things up by sipping on cleaning products, however, they’ll grow sick.
Consider the dangers of a cat lost in the attic, or a crawlspace. Felines will often gravitate to these locations while hunting. If they hear mice, they’ll be determined to stalk them.
This can quickly lead to your cat getting trapped, or lost. For your pet’s safety, consider closing off any access points to such places.
How to Find a Cat Hiding in Your House
Your life would be much easier if your cat approached you when called. This way, a hiding cat can be coaxed out with a simple command.
Unfortunately, as Smithsonian Magazine explains, your cat is more than capable of ignoring you. They understand their names – they don’t respond unless it suits them.
To find a cat, you’ll need to think like a cat. You need to think about how to get a cat to come to you. This means ask yourself what motivates your pet, and act accordingly.
Stay calm while you look, though. Cats can sense stress and panic in humans. If you’re not cool and collected, cats will never emerge from their hiding space. They’ll assume that doing so will expose them to danger.
Many cats are food-focused. This means it will leave them unable to resist the siren song of dinnertime. Teach your cat a word they can associate with food, and use this.
Also, trigger your cat’s senses to spark their hunger. If you feed your cat wet food, open the can noisily and wander around with it. If they eat kibble, shake the bag. If your cat has a favorite treat, bring this into the mix too.
If food isn’t working, you’ll need to make a tempting cat trap. You may be surprised at how impactful a cardboard box can be for this.
Cats love to squeeze into tight spaces. Leave an upturned box unattended, and sprinkle catnip within. If you don’t have a box, try catnip alone – apply it to open areas around the house.
Temperature is another crucial factor for many felines. Your pet may be hiding because they find the house too cold or hot. Try turning on the radiators, and see if they tempt your cat.
If this makes no difference, place a hot water bottle somewhere that your cat gravitates toward. If you suspect that your cat is too hot, offer a cooling opportunity.
Just switching on the air conditioning may bring your cat running. If not, consider a freestanding fan. Just be careful with the latter option. A fan can easily be tipped over, causing all kinds of problems.
If you are still not having any success, wait until after dark. Cats are nocturnal, after all. If your pet has found a cozy hiding place, they may be sleeping all day.
Set the alarm for around 2 am, and arm yourself with a flashlight. You can then follow the steps above, though they may not be necessary.
If your cat hides all day, they’ll likely feel confident enough to roam at night. Once you find your cat, however, you’ll need to ask why they are keeping such hours.
Why Do Cats Hide?
It’s easy to assume that felines hide because they are afraid of something in the home. This may well be the case, but it isn’t necessarily a reason to worry.
Cats are born predators, but they also have the mentality of prey animals. This makes them skittish, and easily startled. A spooked feline will find a hiding place, calm down, and feel fine in no time.
Anything can spark this response in a cat, especially loud noises. These may be within the home, such as the vacuum, or they could stem from outside, such as thunder and lightning.
There are various other reasons why your cat may hide, however. Consider whether your pet wants some quiet time. If they live in a busy house, cats appreciate an occasional hour to themselves.
A hiding spot also affords your cat the chance to survey their empire in peace. As natural hunters, felines like to have a clear, undisturbed view of their surroundings.
Of course, it’s also possible that your cat finds hiding fun! Felines love to squeeze into tight spaces. This helps your pet feel secure, as nothing can sneak up on them in such locations. This could also, however, suggest that your cat is unwell.
Is My Cat Hiding as Part of a Game?
Hiding is a favorite part of cat play. If you have multiple cats, they’ll hide from each other as part of a hunting game. Cats love to surprise each other by leaping out of enclosed spaces.
If your pet doesn’t have any feline company, they may do the same to you. Pet owners often bemoan their cat launching a surprise attack from nowhere, almost sparking a heart attack.
As far as your cat is concerned, you’re playing hide and seek. If this behavior bothers you, fix your cat with a collared bell. Some cats learn to move slowly and stealthily not to activate the bells. In most cases, however, you’ll be able to hear your pet coming.
Even if they have no intention of revealing themselves, cats like to play by hiding. They find the idea of their owner unsuccessfully searching for them highly amusing.
Remember, just because you cannot see your cat, it doesn’t mean that they cannot see you. A playful pet will reappear when they’re good and ready – usually because they’re hungry.
Is My Cat Hiding Due to Sickness?
The idea of a cat hiding because they’re unwell is far more concerning. Cats never like to reveal that they are under the weather. This could lead to a cat being lost in the house for days. If they are injured or seriously ill, that time may be critical.
Think about your cat’s behavior before they went missing. Did they show any signs of sickness? Examples of this could include:
- Eliminating outside the litter box
- Behaving with uncharacteristic aggression
- Excessive vocalization
- Stomach upsets, such as vomiting and diarrhea
- Excessive grooming, or a loss of interest in self-care
- Loss of appetite
If you suspect your cat is unwell, it’s vital to coax them out of hiding. They will need to be assessed by a vet. It isn’t necessarily life-threatening.
Your cat may have a cold, and is resting somewhere they will not be disturbed. Even if this is the case, however, you should keep your cat in plain view. You’ll need to ensure that they’re eating and hydrating correctly.
Is My Cat Hiding Because They are Stressed?
Your cat’s health concern may not be physical, however. Mental anguish is very common in cats, as felines are easily stressed.
This will pass, and your cat will re-emerge when they’re ready. If it’s a constant behavior, however, you may need to assess your pet’s living conditions.
A change in location can be a trigger for feline stress. If you have moved house, your cat will be wholly discombobulated. Everything they knew has changed – including their safe spaces.
A cat will likely test many potential hiding places. The same applies if you have bought a new pet into the home.
Another common stress trigger for cats is an inconsistent routine. Felines like to know what is going to happen, and when.
This means that varying mealtimes and playtimes can cause mental anguish. Get your cat into a strict schedule, and you’ll find that they’re much more comfortable.
Is My Cat Hiding So They Can Have Some Peace and Quiet?
Your cat may well be hiding for a little alone time. Felines enjoy human interaction, but there are limits to their tolerance.
If you have children or a family dog, your cat will seek occasional respite. In these scenarios, your cat will hide away somewhere that they cannot be reached. Often, this means the top of a closet or inside a tiny space.
A cat hiding out to watch the world go by is nothing to worry about. It’s an integral part of feline nature. It certainly shouldn’t be discouraged.
It’s best to provide your cat with appropriate safe spaces. If your pet knows that they won’t be disturbed in particular locations, they’ll gravitate toward them. This will make it much easier to track your cat down when necessary.
Hiding behavior is common among cats, and is typically nothing to worry about. If your cat is safe, and isn’t spending disproportionate amounts of time hiding, leave them to it.
Hiding in moderation should be encouraged. Ensure that your cat has many safe places to call their own. This will make it easier to find them, should it become necessary to do so.
If your cat has seemingly disappeared, stay calm. There is every chance that your pet is hiding from you for their amusement. If you follow the advice that we have outlined, they’ll reappear before long. This will happen even sooner if they get hungry.