Why do cats hide when they are sick?

| November 27, 2023

Have you ever noticed your kitty behaving unusually when they’re under the weather? Cats, unlike humans, may not manifest illness or pain in easily recognizable ways. Rather intriguingly, cats often resort to hiding when they are unwell. This behavior, though frustrating for pet owners, is a natural incline for these creatures. If you’ve ever wondered why your feline friend chooses solitude over company when they’re sick, you’re in the right place. We’ll delve into the intricacies of feline behavior and how to identify signs of illness in your pet.

Understanding Feline Behavior

Before we explore why cats choose to hide when they’re sick, it’s important to understand the inherent nature of these animals.

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Cats, in their natural habitat, are solitary animals. This means they prefer to be alone most of the time. This behavior extends to when they’re feeling unwell. It’s their instinct to hide any signs of weakness, as in the wild they would be more susceptible to predators. So, your domesticated feline friend is simply following their instinct when they opt to seclude themselves during illness.

Cats are also notoriously stoic creatures. They’re known for their resilience and their ability to bear pain or discomfort without showing any outward signs. This, coupled with their natural inclination to hide when they’re under the weather, can make it tricky for you as pet owners to detect when your kitty may not be feeling well.

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Common Signs That Your Cat is Sick

Knowing the common signs of sickness in cats can help you identify when your pet might be feeling unwell. Cats are adept at masking their pain, so it’s critical to stay vigilant about their behavior and regular routines.

Changes in eating habits are a common indicator. If your cat is sick, they may lose interest in food or start eating significantly less. On the other side, if your cat is suddenly overeating, that could be a sign of a condition like diabetes.

The litter box can also hold clues to your kitty’s health. Cats with urinary diseases often make frequent trips to the litter box. If you notice your cat straining or crying out in pain when using the box, they might have a urinary tract infection.

A drastic change in activity level is another common sign of illness. A usually active cat becoming suddenly lethargic, or a typically calm cat becoming restless or agitated, could be a cause for concern.

Why Cats Hide When They’re Sick

Now, onto the million-dollar question: why do cats hide when they’re sick? As mentioned earlier, this behavior is primarily due to their natural survival instincts. When a cat is unwell, they feel vulnerable to predators. Their instinct is to find a safe, secluded place where they can rest and recover without being disturbed or attacked.

Sick cats often find comfort in the solitude of hidden places as it provides them with a sense of security. They’re less likely to be disturbed, allowing them to cope with their discomfort in peace. This behavior might seem strange to us, but to a cat, it’s a natural response to illness.

How to Find Your Sick Cat

When your cat is unwell and hiding, you may have trouble finding them. Cats can be quite creative when it comes to hiding spots, and they can fit into surprisingly small spaces.

Common hiding places are under beds or furniture, in closets, or even inside appliances like washers or dryers. Outdoor cats might hide in sheds, garages, or underneath decks.

If you can’t find your cat, consider their favorite spots around the house. Also, try to create a quiet and calm environment so your pet will feel safe to come out. Remember, forcing them out of their hiding spot can cause additional stress. Rather, let them come out in their own time.

When to See a Veterinarian

Just like humans, cats can experience a range of minor ailments like colds or upset stomachs, which may not require immediate medical attention. However, if your cat remains hidden for an extended period, refuses to eat or drink, or shows signs of severe discomfort or distress, it’s time to consult a veterinarian.

It’s crucial to remember that early detection and treatment can significantly increase your cat’s chances of recovery. Regular check-ups can also help prevent or detect diseases early. Your kitty might not show their pain or discomfort, but as responsible pet owners, it’s your job to keep an eye out for any changes in their behavior or routine. After all, you’re their best advocate when it comes to their health and well-being.

Dealing with a Hiding Cat

You might be asking, "What should I do when my cat is hiding because they are sick?" When you notice your cat hiding, it’s essential to respect their needs while still monitoring their condition. Your feline friend might find comfort in solitude when they are not feeling well, and pushing them to socialize could cause unnecessary stress.

Ensure that the cat’s hiding place is safe and comfortable. If the cat will allow, try to provide clean bedding in their chosen spot, and ensure that they can easily access food, water, and their litter box. It might be tempting to move your sick cat to a location that’s more convenient for you, but remember that the cat has chosen their hiding place because they feel safe there.

If your cat seems to be in severe pain, is not eating or drinking, or has other worrying symptoms, it’s important to get them to a vet. You can gently coax a hiding cat out with treats, a soft blanket, or a familiar toy. If they don’t respond, you might need to retrieve them from their hiding place — be gentle and calm to minimize their stress.

Some pet owners find it helpful to maintain a calm environment in the house to encourage a hiding cat to come out. You can do this by reducing loud noises, keeping other pets or children away from the hiding place, and talking softly to your cat to reassure them.

In Conclusion: Understanding the Hiding Behavior

Feline behavior can sometimes be a puzzle, but once understood, it can greatly help in caring for your pet. Recognizing why and when cats hide during illness is crucial for their well-being. Cats hide when they are sick due to their survival instincts. A sick cat will find comfort in hidden places where they can get some rest and feel secure.

Knowing the common signs of illness in cats, like changes in eating habits or litter box use, or drastic changes in activity levels, can help you determine when your cat might be unwell. If your cat is hiding and showing signs of severe discomfort, remember it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian.

The key is to remember that our domestic cats, despite their comfortable lives, still retain some of the instincts of their wild ancestors. As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to respect these instincts and provide the best care we can for our feline friends. So, when your cat is sick and decides to hide, remember it’s a natural behavior for them, and your patience, understanding, and care can go a long way in helping them recover.

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