Cats Hiding – Hide and Seek is a Bad Game

Author: Dr. Jason Nicholas

Published: November 26, 2020

Updated: June 7, 2022

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cat hiding could be sign of illness or stressMany cat owners don’t realize that hiding can be a very important and concerning sign in cats.

Many just attribute it to grumpy feline behavior or their cat’s preference for dark, isolated places.

Unfortunately, though, hiding is often just an outward manifestation (sign) of an internal problem. And it’s a sign you should always be on the lookout for and heed the warning of when it occurs.

Whether your cat’s stress is a result of a newly toddling toddler or a change in the weather, it can lead to some highly undesirable and destructive behaviors (e.g., house soiling, excessive grooming, and others) if not properly and promptly addressed.

Some of the things that a hiding cat may be trying to tell you:

  1. They’re stressed
  2. They’re in pain
  3. They’re feeling sick
And by “properly,” I mean with the counseling of your veterinarian and/or veterinary behaviorist – not by shunning or punishing your cat.

Here’s a good primer article on stress in cats, and you can easily find a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (and other specialists) by using the links in our pet resources library.

Some of the things that commonly cause cats pain or a feeling of 'sickness' include:

  • Arthritis
  • Cat bite abscess (not just in cats that go outdoors!)
  • Fleas (especially when they cause a low red blood cell count "anemia")
  • Urinary obstruction
  • Kidney disease
  • Digestive obstruction

And many, many more.

So you can see there is a serious reason to pay attention to “hiding” cats. Some causes need immediate attention, and all need attention in order to ensure your cat's comfort and quality of life.

Please always be on the lookout for it and seek proper veterinary attention should it be noted. And don't forget your pet sitter. They should be on the lookout for it too whenever you’re traveling, as this is a very common time for stress-related problems in cats!

About the author

Profile picture for Dr. Jason Nicholas

Dr. Jason Nicholas

Dr. Nicholas graduated with honors from The Royal Veterinary College in London, England and completed his Internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. He currently lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Dr. Nicholas spent many years as an emergency and general practice veterinarian obsessed with keeping pets safe and healthy. He is the author of Preventive Vet’s 101 Essential Tips book series.

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