Why is My New Cat Hiding From Me? - Humane Society of the Naturecoast (2022)

Why is My New Cat Hiding From Me? - Humane Society of the Naturecoast (1)

So, you finally adopted that precious kitty you’ve been dreaming about for so long. You bought the toys, the bed, the adorable bowls and the gorgeous new collar complete with an engraved name-tag. You have imagined how wonderful it would be, just snuggling with your new fur baby and spending long, special hours together… but as soon as you get home your new fur baby has tucked itself tight into the corner, under the sofa, and it won’t come out. Now you’re asking: What happened to that super-affectionate bundle of fur I adopted after our super-cuddly Meet-and-Greet at the shelter just yesterday? Why is my new cat hiding from me?

Well, don’t worry! For a kitty in a new or unfamiliar environment, hiding is a healthy and completely normal reaction. When you met your new kitty at the shelter, they were in familiar territory. At the shelter — like at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast — they probably lived among a family of other kitties and they were familiar with the faces of shelter staff members who provided food and attention. They were “home.” They knew they were safe and they knew of all sorts of places where they could hide if they felt threatened.

Why is My New Cat Hiding From Me? - Humane Society of the Naturecoast (2)

So now what? What can you do to calm and comfort your cat, and assure them that it’s safe enough for them to come out from under the furniture?

1. Be Patient!

If your new kitty is hiding it’s important to understand this is normal. Just be patient and give them time to adjust to their surroundings. If your new kitty wants to hide, let them hide. Don’t force them to come out. Don’t crouch on the floor, reaching under the sofa in an effort to drag them out. This will only make them withdraw tighter into that corner.

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Remember, cats are very territorial, so they will feel a little unsettled until they believe this is their home! It doesn’t look like “home,” and more importantly for your new kitty, it doesn’t smell like home. It may even smell like another cat or a dog, who may not even be there anymore. Give them time to understand that they are safe and this is their home. How will know they believe this is their new home? Well, they will mark their territory. Cats have scent glands in a variety of locations — primarily on their forehead, cheeks and chin — and they will rub against things to mark territory with their own scent. It’s like saying… “This is mine. That is mine… and that over there will be mine as soon as I make it clear that this is mine.”

Cats will even mark their favorite people with their foreheads — also known as “the head-butt” — while furniture and other inanimate objects are usually marked with the sides of their cheeks and their chins. Once they feel safe and a little braver, your kitty should start to come out and explore and begin marking the house — and you — with their scent to establish that “Yes… This is my house and you are my human!”

Why is My New Cat Hiding From Me? - Humane Society of the Naturecoast (4)

2. Is Something in the House Scaring Them?

Understand that your new kitty might remain timid and continue to hide for a number of days. However, if they continue to hide, even remaining in their safe-spot without venturing out for food or water, you should start looking for things that your new kitty might see as a threat.

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Are there a lot of people in the house, lots of new friends coming to see your new kitty? Do you have loud guests or young children who may be making your kitty nervous? Is the volume on your television up too high? Do you have a noisy appliance or AC Unit? Even unusual smells can trigger a kitty into hiding. Take a look around. Is that coo-coo or loud chiming grandfather clock scaring the wits out of your new kitty every half-hour?

3. Does Your New Kitty Feel Trapped?

Why is My New Cat Hiding From Me? - Humane Society of the Naturecoast (5)

No matter how familiar a cat is with their environment, they will always want to know where the nearest escape route is! If your new kitty has taken to hiding, be sure to leave doors open and never block the exits to a room. Try to create an open and safe place for your kitty so they can adjust to their new surroundings.

4. Reinforce positive behaviours

Even with people, a little positive encouragement can go a long way! Maybe you can entice your kitty to come out by tempting them with a new toy. Most kitties can’t rest something that’s small and moving near them. Encourage your kitty to come out and play! The sort of toy that has something dangling from a long string will enable you to tempt the kitty with a play-thing while giving them the space they need to feel safe.

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Try to have some treats to offer any time your pet comes to you to reinforce the idea that being near you is a good thing and being out in the open can be fun!

You can also leave some treats just outside of their hiding place. But don’t rush toward them if they dare to poke their head out. What would you do if you were scared and someone came rushing toward you? You’d run the other way and hide. Right? Let them know you aren’t a threat. Let them come to you.

5. Provide Food and Water Near Their Hiding Place

If your kitty is hiding, and their food and water is in another room, they may be too afraid to come out even to eat and drink. Seriously, your kitty might even be too afraid to come out to use the litter box.

Do you have another cat or dog that is (albeit unintentional) blocking access to their food and water? It might be beneficial to place these resources just outside of their hiding place. While encouraging them to venture out a bit, having these things close by won’t force them to go further than they feel comfortable with. Then start moving the items toward the place where you will keep them when your new kitty feels at home. With a little patience and encouragement, your new kitty will feel safe enough to come out and start exploring!

7. Give Them Their Own Space

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Why is My New Cat Hiding From Me? - Humane Society of the Naturecoast (6)

You have a bedroom. Right? If there are other members of the family, they have a bedroom. Right? Well, so should kitty!

Creating a comfortable, safe space for them to escape to is a fabulous way to help your new kitty feel at home. Providing their own territory will boost their confidence and encourage their bravery! Be creative! A good kitty safe space should have lots a comfy bed, lots of toys be located in a nice quiet place. Providing some seclusion, like in a back room of the house is a good way to give them a sense of security and help them adjust to their new home. In no time, you’ll see them venturing out to start exploring the rest of the house!

  • Why is My New Cat Hiding From Me? - Humane Society of the Naturecoast (7)

Well, I hope this helped provide some guidance and assurance.

You’re fine. Your new kitty is fine. It’s just might take a little longer than you planned for the new kitty to feel at ease in their new home. But rest assured. With a little patience and a lot of love, you will be snuggling with your new fur baby and spending those long, special hours together… just like you always dreamed you would.

Do you have any questions or thoughts to share? Please feel free to type those out in the comments section below!

FAQs

Is it normal for a newly adopted cat to hide? ›

If your new kitty is hiding it's important to understand this is normal. Just be patient and give them time to adjust to their surroundings. If your new kitty wants to hide, let them hide. Don't force them to come out.

How long is normal for an adopted cat to hide? ›

Your new cat will need to be in their safe room for at least three days, but some may need longer. Once you feel your cat is comfortable and confident in their room, it's time to open the door and let them explore the rest of the home.

How do you encourage a new cat out of hiding? ›

5 Ways to Help a Hiding Cat
  1. Allow Your Cat to Warm Up to Visitors. ...
  2. Try to Normalize a New Environment. ...
  3. Give Your Cat a Safe Space. ...
  4. Monitor Your Cat's Behavior Changes. ...
  5. Make an Appointment With Your Vet.
Dec 20, 2016

How long does it take for a new cat to come out of hiding? ›

Most cats take a couple of weeks to acclimate, but it might take a month or two. During this time, try not to force the cat to come out of its hiding spot. Avoid chasing or picking up your cat, especially during this initial timeframe. Be patient.

How long does it take new cats to adjust? ›

It depends on your cat's personality. With that said, you should see your kitty growing more comfortable around you within a week or two. (You can learn more about what to expect from our article on Moving With Pets: Preparing and Settling Into a New Home.)

How do you get a scared cat to trust you? ›

Steps to Gaining Your Scared Cat's Trust
  1. Stick to a routine with your cat. ...
  2. Minimize noise and other stressors. ...
  3. Use a soft, reassuring tone of voice. ...
  4. Give your cat their own space. ...
  5. If your cat reacts by running away, that's okay. ...
  6. Play with them often. ...
  7. Learn more about feline body language.
Aug 20, 2021

Will my cat come out of hiding? ›

Many cats will come out of hiding on their own and return to you once they feel comfortable and safe again. However if your cat is sick, injured, or lost, you'll need to know how to find the hidden cat yourself. The easiest way to find a hiding cat is to track them with a GPS tracker like Tractive GPS for cats.

Do cats hide when they are scared? ›

Your cat will hide when there is something, or someone, nearby that is causing them concern. They may be frightened or just wary about something unfamiliar and might want to keep out of the way, just in case.

Where should a cat sleep on first night? ›

This means that the best place for a kitten to sleep is a secure spot, sheltered from draughts and warm enough is the best set up. It is a good idea to have the kitten close to you for the first few nights. Find a cosy place next to your bed and you can even choose a spot up off the floor if possible.

How do you make an adopted cat feel at home? ›

6 Tips to Make Your New Rescue Cat Feel Right at Home
  1. Know Your Rescue Cat is Healthy. After you've picked up your cat from the cat rescue or animal shelter, call your local vet for availability. ...
  2. Create a Safe Space for Your Cat. ...
  3. Cats Love Friends. ...
  4. Plenty to Scratch. ...
  5. Cats Love to Explore. ...
  6. Feeding Your Rescue Cat.
Jun 24, 2016

How long does it take to gain a cat's trust? ›

Some cats are ready to get to know you immediately while other kitties may take several weeks to initiate any kind of interaction.

How do you know if a cat doesn't like you? ›

Hissing, growling, biting, or slashing, or digging their nails into your skin are fairly clear indications that a cat is not happy with you. Of course, some cats do play a little rough, and most cats will give a love bite now and then, but if your cat bites you hard enough to break the skin, that is one pissed-off cat.

How do you know if your cat is traumatized? ›

Signs of Emotional Trauma in Cats and Dogs

Trauma can also manifest as “shaking, hiding, urination and/or defecation when the trigger attempts to interact, howling, pacing, excessive vocalization, and panting,” says Pia Silvani, director of behavioral rehabilitation at the ASPCA's Behavioral Rehabilitation Center.

What will calm a cat down? ›

To help keep your cat calm: Try to keep the noises low around your cat, especially when she may be getting stressed due to an unfamiliar environment or person. Help dampen noise when she is in her carrier by using a towel to cover the carrier. Play soothing music in your home if she is becoming agitated.

How do you get a cat to come to you? ›

To train a cat to come to you, start by standing several feet away from your cat. Then, call out a phrase such as “Come here!” or “Treats!” As soon as your cat comes to you, give it a treat, toy, or any other reward that your cat enjoys. Afterwards, step back a few more feet and repeat the exercise.

What does a scared cat look like? ›

When frightened, some cats may hide, try to appear smaller, pull their ears back and be immobile. Other cats may show signs of agitation or aggression, such as dilated pupils, arched back, pilo-erection (hair standing on end), and hissing.

Why is my adopted kitten hiding? ›

Cat hiding

It's also very common for a cat to hide for a bit after moving to a new home, especially if they were nervous while in the shelter's care, or have a history of being nervous in their previous home. Make sure that your new cat has a safe, comfortable acclimation room and allow them to hide.

Should I let my cat hide? ›

Never force your cat out from their hiding place as this can increase their stress. Instead, let them have their escape. Solve any stressors in your cat's environment - a happy kitty will be less likely to hide away.

How do you coax a new kitten out of hiding? ›

One of the best ways to get kittens to come out of hiding is to use food. When they get hungry enough, most kittens will emerge out of their spot to eat. Choose something delicious and tempting with a strong smell, such as tuna or a piece of chicken. Leave the food near the hiding place, retreat a few steps, and wait.

How do I get my new cat to trust me? ›

Steps to Gaining Your Scared Cat's Trust
  1. Stick to a routine with your cat. ...
  2. Minimize noise and other stressors. ...
  3. Use a soft, reassuring tone of voice. ...
  4. Give your cat their own space. ...
  5. If your cat reacts by running away, that's okay. ...
  6. Play with them often. ...
  7. Learn more about feline body language.
Aug 20, 2021

How long does a cat take to settle in? ›

It is advisable to keep a new cat indoors for at least two to three weeks to ensure it becomes fully acclimatised to the new home and less likely to panic and stray in search of somewhere else more familiar.

How can you tell if your cat is sad? ›

Signs of a Depressed Cat

Changes in body language, including ears held back, tucked tail, and hairs standing on end. Meowing more or less than usual or making low-pitched, mournful meows. Lack of energy or a decrease in activity level. Retreating from humans or other family pets.

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