Where do cats go when it rains?
Questions About Cats

Where Do Cats Go When It Rains?

Cats will usually seek out a dry, safe place when it rains. Anxious owners may wonder where this place is, or where their outdoor cat hides from the rain if it hasn’t come home. Typically, a cat will come home when it senses rain on the horizon. But, if your cat has been missing for a few days after it rained, it may have gotten lost or be too afraid to come out of hiding. However, your cat will usually come home in its own time.

Cats seek out dry, sheltered places when it rains. This could be under a junk pile or under a car. It could also mean finding a high place to hide, as cats enjoy high spaces. It offers a degree of safety and allows a cat to observe the world below. For this reason, you may notice cats taking shelter in a tree when it rains. There are many other places cats hide from the rain, including under overhangs and porches, in shrubs and bushes, sheds, under decks, and on your neighbors’ properties.

The important thing to do if your cat has gone missing after rainfall is this: don’t panic. It won’t do you any favors, and may cause you to overlook key details. Cats are excellent at climbing and hiding. There are many places where a cat may hide from the rain. Asides your own property, there are many places more where a cat will hunker down if it can’t get home. Consider how long your cat has been gone for as well. Has it been away for an unusually long amount of time? If yes, then it’s time to start looking.

Where Do Cats Hide from Rain?

Outdoor and stray cats will likely shelter from the rain. Depending on the severity and suddenness of the downpour, a cat may quickly run home or find a suitable bolt hole for shelter.

Trees

Height offers cats a degree of security and comfort, and trees provide ample shelter. As stated in Wildlife Research, cats have excellent climbing abilities. A cat’s retractable claws and light builds allow it to quickly and securely ascend up a tree. Getting down is the issue.

Domestic cats are great at climbing up, but not so good at climbing down. Your cat may have climbed up a tree to escape the rain and subsequently become stuck. It will likely hunker down on a branch near the trunk.

Take a walk around its usual hangouts and call its name. Once it hears you it will likely call out in distress. If you have no luck in the immediate area, expand the search radius.

Be prepared to run home for a ladder to get it down. Don’t attempt to climb the tree without a ladder unless the cat is on a very low branch, and consider calling either an animal agency with a network to help (such as the ASPCA) or a local tree lopping service.

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Cars

Beyond offering shelter from above, the aerodynamic build of most cars directs water away from running underneath it as well. This creates a dry, semi-insulated pocket beneath a car.

The road clearance of most cars offers just enough space for cats to comfortably fit underneath. It is also usually too low for any large animals to fit under as well, such as most dogs and all people. As such, a cat may already have learned that it can take quick refuge beneath a car. A cat may also crawl up into the engine of the car itself.

Check under your car for your cat, and also on top of the tires. Pop the hood and check in there as well. If you can’t find it, check under other cars in your street while also calling out for your cat. It may be too afraid to come out of hiding.

Junk Piles

Piles of wood, broken furniture, and metal sheets may look like garbage to you. To a cat, though, it looks like shelter from the rain. The nooks and crannies within these piles are perfectly sized, at times, for a cat. The junk also deters bigger creatures from disturbing the cat, like dogs, coyotes, or raccoons.

If you have a junk pile on your property, or near it, head over and check if your cat is within. Be careful about shifting any of the junk, as some might be load-bearing. Call for your cat, and bring along some tasty treats to draw it out. The smellier the better!

Under Overhangs

Overhangs protect windows and doorways from the rain, and obviously a cat may take shelter under one. These little alcoves are designed particularly for directing water, snow, and hail away from the window or door itself. Cats can easily reach these alcoves, and many enjoy the elevated position these spots afford. They are perfect sunning spots in warm weather, and are semi-ideal places to shelter from rain.

A desperate cat may climb to a higher alcove, such as one for a two-story house. Much like with climbing a tree, getting down is much more difficult than getting up.

Do a circuit of your house and check all the windowsills and alcoves. Do the same for the visible overhangs of your neighbors’ homes, and ask them to keep an eye out for your cat if you can’t see any. If you do find your cat in one of these places, don’t encourage it to jump down from a height. Cats may land on all fours most of the time, but it can still easily break a bone.

Instead, get a ladder and pick the cat up yourself. It may be quite frightened, so wearing a welding glove (or thick gardening glove and long sleeves) is a good way to avoid being accidently clawed. Support the cat’s front half with the gloved hand and scoop your other hand under its rear. Cradle it to your chest and carefully descend the ladder. You could also gently wrap it in a towel to keep it calm and prevent it from hurting you.

Dens

A stray cat often has a den that it favors. It will take shelter here during rain. If your cat has a friendly relationship with a stray colony, it may take shelter in this den as well.

A study in Applied Animal Behavior Science found that feral cat colonies will have concentrated areas within their territory that they will inhabit. This area depends on the availability of resources, including shelter. The shelter could be an abandoned building, a junkyard, an infrequently used portion of an industrial complex, or other such places void of constant human presence.

Tracking down a cat colony may require getting in touch with a local animal rescue. They will often be aware of existing cat colonies, and will likely have a network that they can spread pictures of your cat to for information.

Under Houses

Elevated houses offer a mass of shelter for an outdoor cat. Sans houses that rest on a slope, most elevated houses will offer a good deal of protection from the rain to a cat. Elevated houses with skirts are even better, in a cat’s opinion. Skirts keep big things out, including people. If you live in an elevated house with skirts, check for any holes big enough for your cat to squeeze through.

Your cat may frequently tuck itself away under your house. It is a safe place that is centered in its territory, and offers plenty of shelter.

If it is possible for you to access the area under your house, pop in and see if your cat is hiding in there.

Shrubs and Bushes

The dense foliage and branch structure of bushes and shrubs are a perfect wall between the cat and the world. The overlapping leaf structure will prevent the worst of a downpour from reaching the cat. As such, it may scurry in here to hide from rain.

Depending on how frightened your cat was, it may have wormed its way into a place it struggles to get out of without hurting itself. You may need to make an easier path for it to escape by pushing branches aside, or even pruning them. It may also be reluctant to come out if there is a lot of foot traffic or another animal nearby.

Inspect any shrubs or bushes on your property or nearby while calling for your cat. It may respond vocally when it hears you calling, making finding it much easier.

Garages

Garages are full of nooks and crannies for hiding. These are usually full of junk, boxes, and furniture. If not an actual car. All of these items provide ample space for hiding. As the cat may already be indoors at this point, it is likely hiding because it is afraid. Not uncommon to see with thunderstorms.

Check under your car (including the engine and above the wheels), on any shelves, in cupboards, boxes, junk piles, and any other hidey hole possible. Your cat may have also bolted into your neighbors’ garages too.

Sheds

Sheds are dark, quiet, and keep out the rain by design. A cat may hide in here for this reason.

Sheds also usually only see human activity on weekends. Meaning many small animals, like lizards, geckos, and mice, may appear frequently within. These are tempting prey items for a cat to chase, and it may treat the shed as a hunting ground. In this case, it will already be familiar with the structure and know it can take refuge there. It may have already been inside when the rain began, and hasn’t been bothered to come out since.

If you live in an area that sees rainfall that lasts for days at a time, your cat may be waiting out the rain in the shed.

Decks and Porches

Cats may seek out any shelter available, including under a porch or deck. It may also climb onto these places if it is able to. These parts of a house are usually designed to offer shelter from the elements, including rain. Your cat may already be comfortable here, and may spend an afternoon here hiding from the rain.

Pop outside and scope out your deck and porch. You might be surprised to find your cat chilling here, perfectly safe.

Outdoor Shelving

Shelves are up high and under some form of shelter. A cat may climb up onto these shelves to escape the rain. If it is distressed, it may also hide behind items placed on these shelves.

Do you have any outdoor shelving under the deck or beside the house? Check them all for your cat. In its haste, it may have climbed up to a higher shelf that isn’t quite as easy to get down from.

Abandoned Buildings

If there are any abandoned buildings nearby, a cat may take refuge within. These buildings are devoid of human life, which a frightened cat may find ideal if it’s running for shelter.

A stressed cat will usually avoid all people, especially those it is unfamiliar with. It may also be wary of leaving its shelter if strange noises (machinery, foot traffic, construction) emerge once the rain has stopped. At this point, it may be waiting for the noise to quiet before leaving. This could mean waiting until nightfall or for the weekend.

Check out any abandoned building in your area. Be wary of treading upon private property or entering condemned buildings. Call for your cat and listen for a response. Try to coax it out with your call, or food if necessary. If your cat seems to be stuck, try to get in touch with the ASPCA. They will have the training and equipment to safety extract your cat if it has gotten stuck or trapped.

Roofs

If there is an area of a roof that is sheltered from the rain a desperate cat may take shelter here. This is not an ideal or safe place for it to be. Check the roof for any signs of your cat. If it would be possible for your cat to climb onto your neighbors’ roofs as well, check them too – without invading their privacy, mind.

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Neighbors’ Properties

It is always good to introduce your cat to your neighbors so they know it isn’t a stray. A roaming cat is likely quite familiar with properties beside and near your own. As such, it may take shelter in one of these areas during rain. This includes under their cars, in trees or shrubs, on their porch, or any one of the other places we named above.

Reach out to your neighbors and ask them if they have seen your cat. It may be hiding in any of the places listed above.

Can Cats Find Their Way Home In The Rain?

A cat has an almost mystical ability to find its way home. A suite of fine-tuned senses, plus an innate homing instinct that eludes science, are responsible for how cats navigate the world. Cats do get lost, though. But, is rain responsible for this?

Rain introduces a fleet of changes to the environment. We all love the fresh scent of rain. Your cat may too, however that smell can muddle the smells of home. Rain disturbs soil, amplifies other scents, and blankets the scent trails your cat relies on. A cat won’t just use smell to find its way home. It will use sight and sound as well. The thing is, heavy enough rain can interrupt both of these elements.

Heavy rainfall, such as thunderstorms, can change an environment drastically. Especially if you live near rivers or creeks. Uprooted trees, destroyed fences, and debris thrown around by powerful winds can confuse a cat. Meaning the landmarks a cat uses to mark its way home are buried, gone, or otherwise destroyed. Rain is also quite noisy. Heavy rainfall or storms can make it difficult for a cat to hear familiar sounds, like your call or the sound of your cat.

So, a cat can find its way home in the rain, or after rain. Equally, it may get lost. Consider how long your cat usually goes adventuring for, and how long it has been gone since it rained. Has it been gone for an unusually long time? Typically, 4-5 days is where most owners should begin to feel concerned. Depending on the severity of the storm, you may want to start searching earlier. It’s also worth noting that cats may roam further from home for a longer period during mating season.

A cat will take shelter from the rain in a variety of places. Anywhere that is dry and high is a choice spot, such as trees or shelves. Other places a cat may use as shelter includes sheds, porches, under houses, garages, and under cars. Excluding very sudden rainfalls, cats will be able to sense when rain is on the way and make it home in time. A cat that knows rain is coming will often seek out shelter and return home once it is safe.