Most of the time my cat is very friendly and chilled out. She loves attention and is a pretty happy kitty indeed. Other times, my cat is hiding and acting weird. It seems so out of character and begs the question as to why. Why is my cat acting weird all of a sudden?
As it turns out, it isn’t only my cat hiding suddenly and acting weird – many owners have been these worrying behavior changes in their felines too. The main reason cats hide in the first place is to feel safe, so a sudden increase in this behavior suggests they feel scared or threatened. They are hiding as a way to protect themselves from the thing they perceive as dangerous or stressful.
Cats are creatures of habit and so many things can make them feel stressed. This could be down to changes to their home environment or an indication of illness or injury. These situations make your cat withdraw, causing them to start acting strange and scared.
In this article, I look at why my cat is hiding and acting weird in more detail and give you advice on what to do. Using these tips, you can ensure your cat feels happy, healthy, and safe.
Why Is My Cat Hiding Suddenly & Acting Strange?
It can be super confusing when your cat wants to be alone all of a sudden.
You usually enjoy spending loads of quality time with your cat, but now your cat is acting weird. “What’s changed?”, you might ask. “Why is my cat acting strange and scared?”.
Here I run through the three most common explanations to this question. See which you think applies to your cat and follow my recommended advice on what to do next. With a little help and care, your cat will be back to their usual old selves in no time!
Before I start, it’s important to note that this list only applies to cats who have suddenly started hiding. Some cats are naturally more private and reserved, and simply enjoy spending their time curled up in small spaces. However, if your social cat suddenly shows major behavior changes, you need to get each of the following checked out.
1. Sickness & Illness
Sadly, hiding is not usually a good sign and many cats hide when they are sick. It is instinctive of felines to hide when they are in pain, and so their behavior change is often one of the more obvious signs that something is wrong.
What Illnesses Can Cause My Cat to Hide?
Unfortunately, this question isn’t an easy one to answer as any illness can cause a cat to start hiding and acting weird. This behavior will only tell you that something isn’t right. It won’t tell you precisely what the issue actually is.
However, by paying close attention to other behavior changes and symptoms you may get a better idea of what is causing your cat to feel under the weather or in pain. Here is a quick look at some of the most common medical conditions that affect cats and their clinical signs:
- Dental Disease: According to vets, dental disease is the most common medical issue for cats. This is a progressive disease in which the gums become inflamed, eventually leading to tissue damage and tooth loss. It is painful for cats and can make them want to be alone. Is your cat making weird mouth movements? Does it paw at its mouth? Do they have difficulty eating or drool excessively? These are all signs of dental disease.
- Injury or Trauma: Cats are highly inquisitive and often get themselves into trouble when exploring. For example, they could have chewed through an electric cable, sprained a joint when climbing, or been hit by a moving vehicle. Infringe on another cat’s territory and your kitty may get into a catfight that results in injury. The symptoms will vary depending on the injury site and the severity. However, my cat attacks me unprovoked when injured and aggressive behavior changes like this are common.
- Skin Conditions: There are many feline skin conditions, from skin infections and dermatitis to ringworm and feline acne. Cats with skin problems such as these will scratch excessively and overgroom themselves. A condition called supracausal gland hyperplasia specifically causes cats to act weird when you scratch the base of their tail. I notice my cat biting me when I pet her more when she’s got a skin condition, too.
- Parasitic Infections: Fleas are one of the most common reasons why your cat is suddenly acting strange, causing them to feel extremely itchy! Is your cat running around like a maniac? This is another symptom of fleas, whereas some cats chase their tail when they’re infected as the base is where these pesky parasites like to hang out.
The above are just some examples of why your cat is hiding under the bed all of a sudden, or anywhere else in your home for that matter. However, any sickness can have the same effect. Something as simple as cold to something more serious like a chronic illness can cause cats to act this way. As always, seek medical advice from a vet if you think something is seriously wrong.
Why Do Cats Hide When They are Sick?
Whatever illness your veterinarian diagnoses, a cat nursing itself back to recovery will often retreat, go into hiding, and start acting strange. This stems from sick cats in the wild being more vulnerable – for the best chance of survival they need to be in a safe space until they’ve made a full recovery.
Of course, this behavior isn’t guaranteed! While some cats hide when they’re sick, others will become extremely clingy. This all depends on the personality of your cat – no two are exactly the same! For this reason, always watch for symptoms and any type of behavior changes. Cat sleeping positions when sick can also reveal a lot about the current health status of your cat.
2. Stress or Anxiety
I often see my cat hiding and acting strange when she is stressed. Cats run for cover when they feel threatened as retreating to a small and enclosed space helps them to calm down and feel protected from whatever has triggered this behavior.
What Causes Stress in Cats?
Cats are hypersensitive to stress. This means that things that seem like absolutely nothing to us can be a huge deal to our cats. Moving house is one of the biggest stressors as it is a complete change of their environment. However, even tiny changes to their surroundings can really rattle them.
For example, if there has been a new person or animal in your home, your cat will be able to sniff them out. This new smell can make them feel as if their territory has been infringed upon, sending them into a frenzy. Likewise, unexpected loud noises, a change to your working hours, or switching to a different brand of cat food or litter can be extremely traumatic for cats.
Changes don’t have to happen in the home either. If your cat is acting weird after being outside, they may have had a run-in with another neighborhood cat. Alternatively, your kitty could have seen an unwelcome dog walk past which caused them to freak out! Is your cat acting strange after a vet visit? Visiting the vet is another common stressor for cats, making anxiety a likely explanation.
What are the Symptoms of Stress?
Hiding is one of the most natural responses to stress. However, there are also some other indicators that your cat is feeling tense and anxious. These symptoms of stress include:
- Sleep Disturbances: Is your cat sleeping more than usual? Stress, anxiety, and depression can cause a cat to sleep all day and not engage in any activities it usually loves. On the other hand, your cat may be restless and unable to sleep.
- Nail Biting: Cats bite their nails or chew on their paws when they feel stressed or anxious. This is comparable to how humans may nibble at their fingernails when in an uncomfortable and awkward situation.
- Excessive Grooming: Stressed cats often impulsively lick themselves. Grooming releases endorphins in your cat’s brain and so this behavior helps them to calm down. This can eventually lead to a patchy coat and hair loss.
- Appetite Changes: You may see either an increase or a decrease in appetite when your cat is stressed. My cat wants me to watch her eat when she’s feeling anxious, whereas yours may refuse to eat entirely.
- Aggressive Behavior: Stressed cats sometimes act more aggressively towards people and other animals. This may manifest in the form of biting or scratching, especially when being approached or picked up involuntarily.
What Should I Do if My Cat is Stressed?
If you notice several of these symptoms in combination, you can almost be certain your cat is stressed out. Thankfully, general stress is nothing to worry about. Once your cat has calmed down or the stressor responsible is removed from their environment, they’ll soon become more friendly and sociable again.
However, chronic stress is a problem and does need to be taken seriously. If the symptoms of stress don’t seem to be stopping and your cat is acting strange and scared, book an appointment with your vet. Your cat may suffer from chronic anxiety or have another underlying condition that’s causing them to feel this way.
Of course, if you have a male cat you can skip right over this section. Likewise, any owners of spayed females should refer to the two other explanations above.
However, if you know you have a fertile female kitty, being pregnant is a real possibility. Cats can cry like babies at night when they are in heat. If you have an outdoor cat, the unneutered male cats in the neighborhood will hear her calls and come to mate. Before you know it, your feline is pregnant with a litter of kittens.
Why is My Pregnant Cat Hiding & Acting Weird?
Some cats get clingy when pregnant. In fact, they will probably be clingy for the majority of their two-month pregnancy. It is the hormonal and neurological changes happening inside their body that will cause them to be more affectionate. They’re aware they have a litter of kittens inside them, and they know if you are caring for them, their kittens will indirectly be cared for as well.
Towards the end of their pregnancy though, mothers-to-be will exhibit nesting behavior. They are looking for a private and secluded area in which they can safely give birth to their litter. Your cat will be hiding in these tight spots in the two weeks running up to her due date, trying them out for size. To make it comfy and even cozier, she may drag blankets and towels with her to her hiding place.
During these final weeks, it is common to see a cat acting weird all of a sudden as well. They are now in a protective mother mood. As such, they may act aggressively towards animals or people they feel could be a threat to her kittens-to-be. Don’t worry – once the kittens are safely delivered she will start to calm down.
What Are the Symptoms of Pregnancy in Cats?
You may already be aware of the fact that you have a pregnant cat. However, with feline pregnancy only lasting two months, many owners are oblivious to the fact until they wake up one morning to a litter of kittens. If you are unsure as to whether your cat is pregnant or not, here are common signs you can check for:
- Increased Appetite: When a pregnant cat eats she is no longer feeding solely herself – she’s also got to eat enough to help her kittens develop and grow too! As such, pregnant cats typically eat one and a half times their usual diet.
- Dark & Enlarged Nipples: A cat’s nipples are one of the most obvious signs she is pregnant. To prepare for the litter of hungry kittens that will soon be feeding on her teats, her nipples become larger and darker in color.
- Morning Sickness: Morning sickness during pregnancy isn’t exclusively a human occurrence. Pregnant cats also commonly suffer from morning sickness. This is characterized by an unexpected period of vomiting and lethargy. However, this isn’t common in cats.
- Weight Gain: As the pregnancy progresses, most cats will start to gain a little extra weight. This is partially due to the kittens growing inside, and partially as the body starts storing fat ready to make milk. Generally, a weight gain of two to four lbs is expected.
- Swollen Abdomen: Toward the end of the pregnancy, the mother’s abdomen will start to swell to make room for the kittens. This will be obvious in smaller cats, whereas it is difficult to notice in overweight or obese felines.
What to do if My Cat is Pregnant?
Keep giving your cat as much care and love as possible, but be careful when handling them and avoid stroking her stomach. Be sure to feed your cat larger and nutritious meals too to keep her healthy and strong throughout the pregnancy and beyond.
Nearing the end of the pregnancy, you can help your cat prepare for giving birth. If you see her hiding and acting weird, set up a nesting box in a quiet room. Make sure it is cozy and comfortable, lined with plenty of blankets and towels. Now all you have to do is wait for the kittens to be delivered!
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Cats tend to exhibit sudden behavior changes like this when they are either sick, stressed, or pregnant. Although this can be concerning, try not to panic.
If pregnant, your cat should stop acting strange having given birth. Likewise, any cat hiding all of a sudden because of stress will become more sociable and friendly once they’ve calmed down. Even sick cats will make full recovery 99% of the time as long as they receive a formal diagnosis and treatment from a trained veterinarian.
As such, hiding behavior isn’t anything to worry about. However, it is something worth paying attention to. Importantly, never try to pull your cat out of where they are hiding. They’ll only feel more stressed, making them even more likely to retreat! Report all behavioral issues to your vet and get their advice on how best you can help your cat feel at ease again.