Helping a new cat adjust to your home can be quite the challenge. No matter whether you adopt an older cat or a kitten, most will need a little time before they feel at home. This is pretty normal, and I found my new cat hiding under the bed for the first few weeks after adoption.
If your cat is hiding – under the bed, the couch, or anywhere else in your home – try not to worry. This is a normal response for cats that feel a little out of their comfort zone. Once your cat relaxes, you’ll see a lot more of them. You can then start to develop this close bond you’ve dreamed of!
However, it can be frustrating if your new cat is hiding and acting weird. You want to spend time with them getting to learn all their quirks. Besides, it isn’t nice knowing your latest addition to the family is frightened and on edge. So how can you lure a cat out of hiding and help them relax?
In this article, I give you nine simple changes that can help your new cat adjust as quickly as possible. What are you waiting for? Read on, implement these strategies, and help your new cat feel at home in a few easy steps. Your cat will be happier, more social, and keen to get to know you.
Why is My New Cat Hiding Under the Bed?
Before I share my strategies for preventing your cat from hiding, it is important to understand why cats hide in the first place. If we can understand the cause, it is much easier to deal with the problem at its root and implement a strategy that is guaranteed to work.
Now, hiding behaviors are instinctive for cats aren’t anything to worry about. They actually relate back to their survival in the wild. When something scary happens, cats’ instincts kick in automatically and tell them to find a place to hide. Their hiding spot acts as a safe space from which they are much less likely to have to face the impending threat.
As you can see, this is super important to survival. If predators are near, these instincts ensure cats find a safe hiding place so they don’t become another animal’s dinner. And although there are far fewer life-threatening risks for our domestic kitties, these natural instincts persist.
Unfortunately, cats are extremely sensitive creatures and even tiny changes to their environment can spark feelings of fear and worry. Therefore, it is unsurprising to see a new kitten scared and hiding. This is the first time away from their mom, and they are thrown into a space that is completely new to them. It has new sights, new smells, and new people within it!
How To Stop My Cat From Hiding?
Now we know why your new cat is hiding under the bed, we get onto the important part: How to lure a cat out of hiding. Try implementing one, several, or all of the below strategies and you should see a rapid improvement in your cat’s hiding behaviors.
And remember, the crucial word here is “lure”. Hiding is an instinctive behavior that cats practice when frightened. While we can do our best to coax them out of hiding, we must never force them out. This will only increase their stress levels and make the adjustment process take even longer than necessary! Taking the slow and steady approach is always for the best.
1. Be Patient & Let Them Adjust
When kittens leave their mom, it can be an extremely scary and daunting experience. They are leaving the safety of their littermates and the protection of their mom for the first time. Simultaneously, kittens are taking in a whole new environment with new sights, sounds, and smells.
Within this environment, there are also new people to get used to. Perhaps it is just you and your new kitten, or perhaps you have a large and noisy family. Other pets also need to be considered, and that’s before you try to introduce your cat to a new feeding routine and schedule. As you can see, they’ve got a lot to take in all at once!
Adapting to these changes doesn’t happen overnight, and the best thing you can do is be patient. If your cat wants to hide, let them hide. When they are feeling braver, they will venture out and say hello. However, forcing them out before this point will only prolong the process.
So, how long will a scared cat hide? This depends on your cat – some are naturally more sociable and brave, whereas some are more timid and jumpy. It will also depend on factors in your home environment, such as noise levels, the number of people, and the presence of other pets. If you’ve still got a new cat hiding after a month, you’ll definitely want to try some other strategies.
2. Remove Stressful Stimuli
In an ideal world, a new cat will be able to enter your home and adjust to it. You won’t need to make any changes to your home or way of living at all. However, if there is too much going on in your home environment and your cat isn’t starting to settle, you will need to make some changes.
Take a moment to consider your home environment. What here could be acting as a stress trigger for your new cat, causing them to hide under the bed? Below are just a few common examples:
- Lots of loud and heavy-handed children
- Having many different guests over at once
- Loud appliances or noises outside the home
- The presence of other pets in your home or neighborhood
- Unfamiliar smells like cigarette smoke
Where possible, I advise trying to eliminate these stimuli. Teach your children how to handle new cats and kittens so they do this correctly. Limit the number of guests in your home until your new cat has come out of hiding. Don’t smoke in your home or use strong artificial fragrances. And introduce old and new pets in the correct environment to minimize confrontation.
3. Provide Plenty of Escape Routes
As mentioned, it is instinctive for cats to hide when they feel a nearby threat. But before hiding, many cats will try to escape. They’d rather run as far away from the danger as possible than hide in the same room as it and hope for the best!
If your new cat is hiding under the bed, one option is to provide plenty of escape routes. This will mean they exit the scene when feeling stressed instead of hiding in one spot. Keep the doors between rooms open so your cat always has an escape route and never block their exit. I know that you’re desperate to play with your cat, but they’ll come to you when the time is right.
Another option is to make use of the vertical space in your home. Cats are natural-born climbers and will enjoy scaling the walls of your home. Besides, cats shelves are a space that only your cat can reach. They’re a great escape route and can help deal with issues over territory.
4. Form Positive Associations
You can use certain behavioral techniques to coax your new cat out of hiding, the best being positive reinforcement. All this means is that your cat is rewarded for coming out from under the bed. You’ll be surprised by how much difference a little positive encouragement can make!
There are two main options and positive “treats” you can give your cat each time it pokes its head out from its hiding spots. These are:
- Edible tasty treats
- Playing with toys
I prefer the latter option for a couple of reasons. Firstly, playing together is a brilliant bonding activity that can help strengthen your new relationship. Playing with toys will also encourage your cat to be active and healthy. Comparatively, a few too many treats could cause your new cat to become overweight or obese. However, both work well and the choice is yours.
You don’t have to only reward your cat when they leave their hiding space either. Why not leave a few treats nearby to help lure them out? Or wave a feather wand in front of the opening to grasp their attention. Most cats won’t be able to resist and will come out of hiding.
5. Create a Cat Sanctuary
I’ve spoken already about removing stressful triggers in your home to make your cat feel more at ease. But alongside eliminating the negatives, you can also add more positives to help your cat adjust to their new home quickly and easily.
One of the easiest additions to any home is a pheromone diffuser like Feliway. These are plug-in diffusers that release chemicals pheromones into the air. You won’t be able to smell these pheromones as our bodies don’t have the right receptors. However, cats will be able to smell them in the air. They have calming effects and can help your cat relax.
You also need to make sure all of your cat’s wants and needs are met. In fact, you should aim to create a sanctuary for your new furry friend! The better you tailor your home to your cat, the more confidence they’ll have in exploring it. Below are some must-have items to include:
- Comfortable cat beds with high sides
- A cat tree with multiple perches and condos
- Designated hiding spaces your cat can retreat to
- Lots of toys to keep your kitten stimulated
6. Rule Out Medical Conditions
Cats don’t only hide when they are stressed, but also they’re sick and in pain. This again links back to survival – sick and injured cats are more vulnerable than healthy felines. By hiding when in this vulnerable state, they are protecting themselves from predators. At the same time, they also need this time to rest and recover.
Now, it is completely normal for a new cat to hide when first being brought home. However, if your cat isn’t adjusting to your home within a few weeks, it’s worthwhile taking them to the vet. Similarly, a new cat hissing and not eating should see a professional. Your cat might be completely fine, but it is always best to have medical conditions ruled out.
Some medical conditions that are common in kittens include:
- Parasitic infections such as worms, mites, and fleas
- Ingesting a foreign material while exploring their new world
- Upper respiratory infections (URIs) comparable to the human cold
If it turns out your kitten is ill, don’t panic. They’re in the best place possible! Your vet will prescribe treatment based on the condition. For example, flea treatment for kittens under 12 weeks will be prescribed for new cats with fleas, while URIs are often treated with antibiotics. Never give your new cat human medication and always seek advice from your vet.
7. Keep Essential Resources Nearby
A new cat hiding is playing a waiting game. They are simply holding tight and sitting in their safe spot until they feel confident enough to come out. But many owners think they can speed this process along by putting all essential resources in another room. If your cat doesn’t have access to food, water, and a litter tray, they’ll surely come out in search of them, right?
Wrong! This couldn’t be further from the truth! Some cats will be too afraid to venture out, even for the necessities. Removing or restricting your new cat’s access to these essentials is only going to make them feel more unsafe and anxious.
Always make sure your cat has easy access to fresh food, clean water, and a litter tray. I recommend putting these in the same room as their favorite hiding spot where possible. In fact, limiting your cat to one room that contains everything they need can be a great stepping stone. Once they’re comfortable exploring this room, you can open their access up to the rest of the house.
8. Introduce Other Cats Slowly
If your only have one cat, you can skip right over this step. However, this is an important strategy for owners of multiple cats. As you probably already know, cats are very territorial animals. Where other cats are present in your home, your cat has stress over territory to deal with alongside its change in environment. This can make their hiding behavior worse!
Improper introductions can also cause unexpected issues with your existing cats. When not introduced correctly, it is common to see your existing cat hissing at new kittens. Cat depression after a new kitten is also likely. This means you’ll be dealing with behavioral challenges from your old and new cats at the same time.
Therefore, old and new cats must be introduced correctly. The best way to do this is to make the change as gradual as possible. This will encourage your old cat to accept the latest arrival, while reassuring your new cat there is no reason to be afraid.
9. Minimize Competition
Friendly introductions only go so far! Tensions can easily run high when cats are living together due to competition over space and resources. If you want to make your new cat feel at home, make sure they have their own resources. For example, households with two cats should have two litter trays, two food bowls, two water bowls, and so on.
Even with this, I find that competition still arises when it comes to mealtimes. My new cat would run back into hiding when my old cat approached her food bowl. Automatic cat feeders are a good solution here for busy owners. These feeders pour out perfectly portioned bowls of food, divided into two bowls for each of your furry friends.
For a more advanced option, take a look at smart cat feeders. I use a cat feeder with collar sensor. These feeders can only be accessed by cats wearing a pre-programmed collar, allowing me to keep my cats’ meals separate from one another. In fact, it is impossible for them to steal even a bite from each other’s bowls.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Your new cat won’t be hiding under the bed forever! Hiding is an instinctive behavior for cats whenever they feel scared or stressed. Entering a new home with new sights, smells, sounds, people, and animals is a lot for your cat to deal with at once. But as soon as your cat relaxes and realizes there is nothing to fear, they’ll come out to play.
The best thing you can do for your cat is to remain patient. All cats are different, and some cats will take longer to accept their new home than others. You can make the transition smoother by removing stressful triggers, creating a calm environment, meeting all their essential needs, and using positive reinforcement.
However, remember that hiding can also indicate sickness. İf you’re still finding your new cat hiding after a month, speak to your vet. They’ll be able to rule out or treat any medical conditions, besides offering further advice on successful integration into your family.