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Home > Cats > How Long Will My Cat Hide If They Get Scared? Vet Approved Facts

How Long Will My Cat Hide If They Get Scared? Vet Approved Facts

cat lying on the floor hiding behind the curtain

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats can get scared for various reasons, and some cats are more skittish than others. However, practically all cats will hide when they feel threatened or anxious. It’s how cats evolved to protect themselves. They aren’t very large predators, so hiding was a key way they survived in the wild.

The length of time your cat will hide if they get scared can vary depending on many factors, such as the severity of the scare, the cat’s personality, and the environment they are in.


How Long Do Cats Usually Hide For?

Sometimes, a scared cat may only hide for a few minutes or hours before they feel safe enough to come out of hiding. However, in other cases, a cat may remain hidden for days or even weeks if they feel their safety is threatened.

Giving your cat the space and time they need to feel safe and comfortable is important. Avoid forcing your cat out of hiding or trying to lure them out with treats, as this can cause them to become even more frightened.

Instead, try to create a calm and quiet environment for your cat, and provide them with food, water, and a litter box nearby, so they don’t need to leave their hiding spot. Gradually introduce toys and other forms of stimulation to encourage your cat to come out of hiding on its terms.

Excessive hiding can indicate a health problem, as well. Cats may hide when they aren’t feeling good to avoid potentially being preyed upon by predators. While this isn’t a problem in our homes, cats still have the instinct to hide when sick. If your cat seems to be hiding excessively for no apparent reason, a trip to the vet is in order.

A cat hiding under a couch
Image By:, Shutterstock

How Do I Get My Scared Cat Out of Hiding?

You don’t necessarily want to get your scared cat out of hiding. In many cases, the cat will come out when they are ready. Poking or prodding your cat to come out may only increase the fear. Instead, it’s often best to leave the cat alone and allow them to come out when ready.

That said, there are some things you can do to encourage your feline to emerge.

  • Create a calm and quiet environment: Turn off loud music or TV and avoid sudden movements or loud noises that may startle your cat. This will help create a more peaceful environment and make your cat feel safer.
  • Provide food, water, and a litter box nearby: Your cat may become more stressed if they don’t have access to necessities while hiding. Ensure your cat has food, water, and a litter box nearby, so they don’t need to leave their hiding spot. (You must monitor your hiding cat to make sure they are drinking and eating. After setting the plates nearby, you should give them space. If the cat is ignoring the food and water plates, they are probably ill and at risk; they must be seen by a vet.)
  • Use familiar scents: Place a blanket or piece of clothing with your scent on it near your cat’s hiding spot. This will help your cat feel more secure and remind them of your presence.
  • Encourage play: Gradually introduce toys and other forms of stimulation to encourage your cat to come out of hiding. Start with toys your cat enjoys and play with them nearby their hiding spot.
  • Be patient: Giving your cat time to come out of hiding on its own terms is important. Be patient and avoid putting pressure on your cat to come out.

As we said, if your cat is hiding excessively, a trip to the vet may be in order.

British cat hiding under the bed
Image Credit: ivSky, Shutterstock

How To Keep Your Cat from Getting Scared

Preventing your cat from becoming scared is often easier than getting your cat out of hiding when they’re already scared. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment in this case. While you can’t prevent every scare, there are some things you can do to help your cat become less anxious.

  • Create a safe environment: Make sure your cat has a comfortable and secure place to sleep and retreat when they feel stressed or scared. Provide hiding spots, such as a covered bed or a cardboard box, and ensure they can access food, water, and a litter box. While it may seem counterintuitive, providing your cat with hiding places can prevent them from hiding quite so much.
  • Stick to a routine: Cats thrive on routine, so try to keep their daily schedule as consistent as possible. This includes feeding times, playtime, and sleeping arrangements. If you need to change the routine, be prepared for your cat to act weird for a few days.
  • Use positive reinforcement: Encourage good behavior with treats and praise. This will help your cat associate positive experiences with certain activities or situations, reducing the likelihood of them becoming scared. Always use positive reinforcement when your cat remains calm in situations where they would normally become scared.
  • Socialize your cat: Expose your cat to new people, animals, and environments in a controlled and positive way. This can help them become more comfortable and confident in new situations. Pair this step with positive reinforcement if the cat remains calm. This will make them more comfortable around potentially scary things. Kittens are the easiest to socialize, but it is never too late to start.
  • Provide mental and physical stimulation: Make sure your cat has access to toys, scratching posts, and other forms of stimulation to keep them mentally and physically active. This can help reduce stress and anxiety and keep them from becoming bored or restless. Some cats need more stimulation than others, so be prepared to increase or decrease the options as necessary.



Scared cats naturally hide—it’s just their instinct. While hiding may seem negative to us, it’s very calming for our felines. Our cats typically know how to lower their anxiety and fear when stressed. Therefore, if your cat wants to hide, it is best to let them hide.

They may hide for only a few minutes depending on why the cat was scared. The cat may be skittish for several days in severe cases, such as when the cat is introduced into a new home. While you should allow your cat to hide for as long as they want, there are several things you can do to make them feel more comfortable.

You can also prevent your cat from becoming scared in the first place by providing a safe environment, socializing your cat, and providing positive reinforcement.

Featured Image Credit: Mantikorra, Shutterstock

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