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Ever wonder why your cat hides away or likes to disappear in a cardboard box? Find out more in our guide.

Why do cats hide?

It’s part of a cat’s normal behaviour to hide – whether this is finding a safe place to sleep, lying in wait to pounce on a toy, or just because they feel safer hidden away.

If you notice your cat hiding more than usual, however, it could be that they’re feeling stressed or anxious, or are feeling unwell. It’s best to take them to the vet to get checked over and rule out any illnesses.

There are a wealth of benefits to providing play for your adult cats. Find out why play is important and how it is best to play with your cat. Watch our video to find out more.


Sometimes, if there’s no medical reason for your cat hiding, they might hide because they’re feeling stressed. Lots of things can cause our cats to feel stressed and hide away, especially things like other cats or fireworks. Noise from things like building works and home renovations can upset your cat too and cause them to hide away. You can read more about keeping your cat safe during building works in our free guide.

Is it normal for my cat to hide away?

If there’s no medical reason for your cat to hide and they’re not feeling stressed, you might be wondering why they’re choosing to spend their time in the bottom of a dark cupboard rather than with you.

As you probably already know, cats like to sleep a lot. In fact, they can spend at least 12 hours a day sleeping. Finding somewhere hidden away might be warm and comfortable for them and provide the perfect place for a cat nap. Your cat might also feel vulnerable while they’re sleeping so their natural instincts will tell them to sleep somewhere hidden and safe where they won’t be disturbed.

Sometimes your cat might hide when they’re feeling playful. In the wild, most cats will hunt their prey by staying out of sight then pouncing on them. Our domestic cats can mimic this behaviour. They might hide then pounce on a toy (or even a passing leg!).

Cats are curious by nature and like to explore new things in the home. So that empty cardboard box might be a nuisance to you, but your cat might see it as a fun new playground. Don’t worry about your cat hopping into a cardboard box – just make sure they can get out of it easily and always check for feline visitors before you go to throw it away!

Providing the perfect hiding place

You should make sure there’s a safe space for your cat to hide if they need to. You should provide hiding places that are:

  • somewhere quiet they won’t be disturbed
  • up high as cats often feel safer further off the ground
  • covered over, like an igloo bed or the Hide & Sleep®
  • away from their food, water and litter trays
  • in a place they normally like to hide

How to help a hiding cat

If you notice your cat hiding more, you should take them to the vet first. If your vet can’t find a medical reason for their hiding, then it might be time to find a cat behaviourist to get to the bottom of it.

If your cat is feeling stressed because of a trigger such as fireworks, hiding might be their way to cope with this. It’s best to leave them alone in their hiding place until they feel happy and safe enough to come out. Trying to coax them out might make them feel more anxious and make them hide for longer.

If you have another cat in the house, it’s important to make sure each cat has a safe hiding place away from the other. Cats are not social animals so they need their own space away from each other. You can read more in our cats living together guide.

My new cat is hiding – is that normal?

If you’ve brought home a new cat and they’re choosing to hide away – don’t worry. Even if they were the most confident cat in the world when you met them, a new home is a big change for a cat and can make them feel unsure as it’s unfamiliar to them.

The important thing to do is give your new cat time. While some cats may be keen to explore straight away, many may choose to hide a way for a few hours, some even longer. This is why we’d recommend that when you bring your cat home for the first time, you take them to a quiet room that has their resources set out and let them out of the cat carrier there. This means that if they choose to hide, they are doing it in a quiet space. If you let your cat out in the kitchen, living room or other frequently used area the constant noise and comings and goings of people may affect them and lead them to hide for longer.

Most importantly don’t spend your time trying to coax them out of their hiding spot as they’ll venture out when they are ready. Often, constant checking on them can slow the progress of them coming out. Make sure their food, water and litter tray are all nearby, but not directly in or beside their hiding place. Sliding food behind the sofa, for example, may seem like a good idea but it will more likely cause them stress. Try sitting quietly so they can get used to you and when they do decide to come out, reward them with lots of fuss (if that’s what they like).

If your cat does hide when they first arrive home, hopefully they will not stay hidden for very long before they build up the confidence to come out and explore. If they do stay hidden, make sure they have access to food, water and litter tray overnight as many cats will feel more comfortable coming out at night when everyone is in bed and the house is quiet.

Usually we’d only expect a new cat to hide away for a few days at most, but each cat is different. If you adopt your cat, the shelter you get them from may say that they might take a little longer to build their confidence. If your cat is continuing to hide for prolonged periods of time then this may be because something is not right in their environment. You can find out how to create the perfect space for your cat on our advice page. If you are worried about your cat’s eating, drinking or toileting then contact your vet as this might be indicating a bigger problem.

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