Why Do Cats Hide?

by Michael
(London, UK)

People ask, why do cats hide? The answer is a commonsense one. Why do we hide? Because we don’t want to be seen. The same goes for the cat and the reason why a cat doesn’t want to be seen is:

  • fear. My cat hides when she hears a lorry nearby or men’s voices. Horrible men! They frighten her except me! This is perhaps because of a bad experience she had when very young before I rescued her. When she hears their voices she really hides and I wouldn’t be able to find her if it wasn’t for the fact that I know her hiding places. It can take quite a while for her to come out and it is well after the “danger” has gone.
  • why do cats hide sickness. A sick cat does not want to be undisturbed and is in a vulnerable state so needs to take protective action. Cats tend to go quiet and find a remote hiding place or partly hidden spot when ill. When cats are injured by cars, for example, they crawl into bushes etc. This is fear and seeking a safe, quiet place. When we think about it, this behaviour is similar to ours. When we are ill we want quiet and to be left alone or at least have no major interactions and noise etc. We are not in a position to do much and therefore want peace and rest. The cat does the same but in a cat way, more effectively because they are more skilful at hiding as a defence mechanism.
  • to simply be undisturbed. Cats in my experience rarely hide to find a quiet place to sleep but it can look like it if that place is tucked away in a warm spot such as near the boiler or near the hot water cylinder. These are out of the way places.
  • why do cats hide to be more effective when hunting. Watch the wild cats stalk. They are all but invisible. Or the big cats when hunting. They need to get close to increase the chances of a successful kill. The proximity to the prey before the charge is a vital ingredient to success. The same goes for domestic cats.
  • to die quietly alone and to be left alone. This is controversial but some people report that their cat disappeared when very ill, say with cancer. This is probably true and an extension of their behaviour when ill.

Many cats have a coat that is pure camouflage, which allows a cat to hide without actually hiding behind something. This is a defence mechanism and for hunting efficiency.

I don’t think that cats hiding is exclusive to cats. It is just that cats are one of the species who are good at it as it is a skill and a behaviour that has evolved over millennia.

Why do cats hide? to Why Do Cats

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Can anyone think of some other reasons?

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Why Do Cats Hide?

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Nov 15, 2010
Another reason
by: Ruth (Monty’s Mom)

I think Monty sometimes hides to play a game with me– he seems to like it when he’s right nearby and I can’t find him. But maybe this goes back to hunting and stalking prey. I love that picture of the cat in the grass– reminds me of Monty when we’ve let the grass get a little long in his yard. He loves it!

Monty doesn’t usually hide from company. He sits and growls at them. My sister’s cat will hide from strangers. Our parents believe she has a cat up there, but they have to take it on faith– they never get to see him! Monty will come out, but will display very bad manners if he feels they’ve stayed too long. I apologize for him on the basis of his having been feral. But in truth I think the feral cat would hide from people. He’s just being a jerk.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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  1. August 27, 2012

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