If your cat is slinking around or hiding under the blanket or furniture, you might find yourself wondering, "Why is my cat hiding so much?" Maybe he only hides when you have visitors over, or maybe he's skittish all the time. Hiding can be a sign of anxiety and unease from changes in your home—even changes in the form of one or two people visiting. If you're wondering how to calm a stressed cat, it all starts with providing an environment that helps your kitty feel more confident.
Changes in the Home Can Cause Your Cat to Hide More
Many things can lead to your kitty being so stressed that she just needs to hide from the world. One of these things is having visitors over. Even if your visitors are people your cat already knows, disruptions to her schedule, unfamiliar noises and smells, and less one-on-one time with you can all lead to behavioral issues.
Cats like to be in control of their environment. Visitors can cause nuisances for cats by upsetting their normal routine. It's common for routine activities in the home to change with visitors:
- People will sit in your cat's favorite chair
- Furniture will be moved around
- Doors will be closed, which may reduce the cat's access to her favorite spot
- More noise than usual in the home
- Changes in feeding times due to activity with your guests
The longer the visitors stay, the longer this stress remains for your cat.
But that's not the only change that may stress your cat and cause her to hide. In fact, anything that disrupts the environment can do it, depending on how confident your kitty feels. Examples include a stray cat wandering around outside, a doorbell ringing, a vacuum cleaner, a leaf blower outside, a new dog or cat, or even a new baby.
Sometimes health issues might cause your cat to hide more too. If your cat's behavior has recently changed, a trip to the veterinarian might be a good idea.
Make Visitors More Pleasant to Your Cat
You can do a few things to help your cat feel less stressed when visitors are over.
- Allow your cat to approach when it's comfortable for him.
- Give your visitors a toy that your cat enjoys playing with so they can interact in a fun way.
- Let your cat hide away in an area separate from the visitors until he's ready to emerge. Don't force him out in the open.
- Teach children to play gently with your cat and not bother him while he's sleeping or eating.
Interestingly, "non-cat people" tend to make themselves as invisible as possible so the cat avoids them. Cats actually finds this display of body language far less threatening and may well move toward the non-cat person first. So encourage your visitors to act like they are "cat people."
Other Ways to Calm a Stressed Cat
Of course, visitors aren't the only thing that can stress out your kitty. She might be frightened by loud noises, a new family member or pet in the home, a stray outside, or even a new furniture piece. Try to address these issues as they come up.
If she's bothered by strays outside, you can close the shades at night so she won't see them.
Introduce new pets to her slowly, so there's less stress in the home. If you're getting a new dog, watch your pup closely and distract him before he tries to chase your cat. You might even need to slowly reintroduce two cats if they seem to be fighting a lot.
If you're about to leave for work for the first time, prepare her by slowly adjusting her to being home alone, rather than just leaving her for eight hours the first time.
For cats, it's all about a slow introduction to change that happens little by little.
Help Your Cat Feel More Confident
Cats may sometimes hide just because they need a cool, dark place to rest.1 But frequent hiding can mean insecurity. Don't ever try to force your cat out of hiding. Instead, help him feel more confident so he leaves on his own.
A great way to do this is by providing more places that he can "own" as his personal territory. Consider adding cat trees, window perches, comfy beds, and cat condos to your home. Play with your cat more so he feels like he's hunting, then give him a treat at the end of playtime. This can help him feel like an accomplished hunter and build confidence.
Calming Diffusers Can Help
To help make your cat more comfortable when visitors are over or any time she might be stressed, plug in a Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser a day or two in advance of the event. The diffuser lasts for four weeks (so you may need more than one to keep your cat comfortable) and helps your cat adjust to a changing environment. Behavior, such as scratching, urine spraying, etc., is usually a result of stress, and using Comfort Zone products can help keep your cat happy and your home safe. Comfort Zone diffusers release odorless vapors that mimic a cat's natural pheromones, signaling that your cat is safe.
Calming a stressed cat is all about providing proactive measures to help your kitty feel more confident and safe. It takes time, but your purring and happy kitty is worth it.
1. Mlynar, Phillip. "Is Your Cat Hiding? Here's Why — And What to Do." Catster, 6 April 2020, https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/why-is-your-cat-hiding.