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How Long Will A Cat Hide If Scared Outside & How To Find It

How Long Will A Cat Hide If Scared Outside & How To Find It

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Hiding is one of the most common behaviors of a scared cat. Most cat owners will agree that one of the first things a frightened cat will do is hide away. My feline friend always hides under the table or behind the couch if someone new visits our home.

If she’s scared enough, they won’t come out until the person leaves, but if she’s just a little insecure, they may come out and start sniffing out the situation.

A better question is how long will a cat hide if scared outside? This will depend on the trigger that scared the cat and how safe and comfortable it feels in its hiding place.

If you want to find out the answers to these questions and get some clues on where cats usually hide outside and how to make them come back to you, then get comfortable and keep reading. You never know when you will need these tips!

How Long Will A Cat Hide If Scared Outside?

cat hiding in grass

Cats are often scared of sudden and loud noises, unknown people or animals, or other unexpected things. This is especially common if they have experienced a traumatic event in the past and are understandably scared of experiencing something similar again.

Cats may exhibit traumatized symptoms such as hiding, trembling, excessive meowing, loss of weight, loss of appetite, behavior changes, escaping, inappropriate urination and defecation (such as peeing on furniture or pooping on floor), and similar signs of unhappiness.

What if your cat got scared outside? Where will they hide? How long will a cat hide if scared outside? These are the questions we are going to explore.

The answer to the question how long will a cat hide if scared outside may depend on several factors. The short answer is that it may only stay away for an hour, but it could also hide for several days.

If you are worrying about what to do about a lost cat, then read on for some tried-and-tested advice!

Why Is My Cat Hiding Outside?

Hiding is a very common cat behavior, especially in scared cats, and this may be especially tricky if your cat is hiding somewhere outside of the home.

Indoor cats don’t have many options when it comes to hiding places, and as a cat owner, you probably know almost all of their hiding spots. It is much more worrying if an outdoor cat is hiding or an indoor cat has escaped outdoors.

Cats may have many different hiding spots outside, but besides that, there’s a higher risk of encounters with other animals, fights, injuries, or you may even lose your cat that way.

In order to understand this cat behavior, first we need to know what scares your cat. When you learn what the stressors are, you can try to deduce where your cat may have gone and try reducing the risk of your cat escaping or hiding again.

Here are some common reasons why your cat hides outside or escapes from the home:

Reason No1 – A New Environment May Be Scary

If you have a new cat or a cat that hasn’t adjusted well to a new environment (for example after moving home), they may escape and hide somewhere outside as they feel scared. Cats are animals of a routine, and if certain things in their life-style change, that may unsettle or frighten them.

If you have a new pet or have introduced an old cat into a new environment for the first time, it may hide or run away because it doesn’t feel safe there, as everything is strange and unfamiliar to them, which may feel threatening.

If the cat is accustomed to a smaller environment, they will find it difficult to adapt to a larger one, despite the advantages of having more room for various activities!

So, how long does it take a cat to adjust to the new home? The answer is that if they have your full attention to settle in, they should adjust to the new situation within a few days, depending on their individual personality, age, and health.

Reason No2 – Outdoor Predators Or Other Pets In Your Home

Your feline friend may hide for a longer period of time if it’s scared of other animals. It may be that your outdoor cat got scared of a potential predator, which resulted in hiding in order to protect itself from harm.

However, another possible reason for your cat escaping outside your home and hiding somewhere is because of other pets in your home that are behaving more dominant or aggressively towards that cat.

Reason No3 – Most Cats Hide If They’re In Pain

cat under tree

Another very common behavior for cats is hiding when they’re in pain. Cats usually won’t show their humans that they’re in pain, especially in front of other pets, as that makes them feel vulnerable to attack.

Cats are instinctive animals and they would rather hide somewhere until they get better. It’s also known that cats may run away before they die because they may prefer to be alone.

Cats are remarkable animals who can sense bad energy and sense certain illnesses. It is also believed that cats can sense their own impending death, which is why they sometimes run away and hide somewhere to die in peace, away from their humans.

This does not mean they do not love and care about their human family, it is just an instinctive behavior.

Reason No4 – Most Cats Escape Out Of Curiosity

Your feline may run away simply out of curiosity or because they felt bored or trapped indoors.

They may then choose to hide because they know they have done something that their owner will be unhappy about and they’d prefer to avoid the consequences!

Indoor-only cats aren’t usually as street smart as outdoor cats, therefore you may think that they’re hiding out somewhere but instead they have got lost and cannot find their way back home.

If you have a lost pet, combine a search of local hiding places with checking local shelters and asking around on social media, as someone may have already found your pet.

Reason No5 – Alert! Strangers In Your Home!

Your feline friend may be scared of unknown people in your home, especially if your cat is extremely shy.

In the first place, most cats may react by hiding around the house, avoiding contact with any people it doesn’t know. However, as soon as they see a chance to escape outside they’ll grab it and run away from the perceived threat.

Some cats aren’t comfortable with strangers but they won’t hide, instead they may be defensive, reacting aggressively if a person tries to pet them or approach them at all.

If you’re having these problems with your feline friend, then you should make allowances for them when you have people come to your house.

If your cat isn’t comfortable with strangers, then try separating them to another room where they will feel calm and safe. That will certainly reduce the risk of disturbing your cat and the possibility of it escaping outside.

Reason No6 – Expanding The Territory

Another reason for cats running away may be their instinct to increase their territory. This desire for territorial dominance is more frequent behavior in male cats than in females cats.

Male cats tend to wander around marking their territory as they’re highly territorial. They do this in order to protect their territory from other cats (or other animals in general).

If your tomcat escapes often, he may be trying to expand his territory, but this will often lead to cat fights and subsequent injuries, which may be another reason for your male cat to hide outside.

Outdoor Spots Where Scared Cats Usually Hide

cat hiding in tree

Cats don’t have many options while hiding indoors. However, that’s not the case when they hide outside.

Cats that hide outside have many different hiding spots to choose from and some of them may be very difficult (or impossible) for you to find or reach. Cat’s are extremely flexible and they can fit into the smallest hiding spot.

The good news is that most felines don’t run far away from their home, so if you cannot find your cat around your house, it’s probably somewhere nearby.

Check out some typical cat’s favorite hiding spots:

• Cats may hide in bushes because they can barely be seen among the foliage.

• Trees are one of the most common hiding places for cats as they are able to jump and climb high into the tree. Few other animals can climb like this, which makes trees an especially popular place where cats hide with a good view of everything around them.

Another great hiding place for kitties is on the roof. Sometimes they will even manage to find a hole that enables them to enter the attic. This is a great place to hide if the attic is empty and abandoned.

I’ve seen many cats doing that, especially females who are about to deliver their baby kittens into the world.

• Cats often hide under cars, whether they’re old and unused or not. Many outdoor cats hide under cars especially during the cold months when they try to warm themselves up or hide from the rainy weather.

Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to serious injury or even death, especially if the cat climbs up into the engine space or on top of a wheel.

• If you have a missing cat, try looking under outdoor furniture; cats adore hiding underneath or behind the furniture where they can be comfortable and hidden but still able to see the house.

• Other outdoor places where your feline friend may hide include the garage, sheds, under porches or decks, and similar. Think of places where the cat could be dry, warm, secure and able to escape quickly.

These are the most common hiding spots for cats, so if you lose your cat, you might want to check in some of these spots first.

How To Get A Cat To Come Back To You

cat walking into plant

Once you find the hiding place of your lost cat, what happens if the cat doesn’t want to come out to you? Well, the first things that come to my mind are, of course, treats! Or you can try luring your cat out with their favorite food.

This might not work every time. There was one time I tried attracting my tomcat with cat food and treats to come down from a tree after it had been chased up there by a dog.

Unfortunately, he was so frightened that none of his favorite treats attracted him to come down, even though the area was secure and the dog was gone. He instinctively wanted to wait until he was sure it was totally safe to come back down.

So, if your feline hides somewhere outside due to being scared, first you need to figure out what made the cat feel scared, and try to secure the area and give them time to settle down. After that, you can try using some of these tips to get your cat home.


Catnip is a minty, fragrant herb that consistently draws the attention of felines. Natural compounds found in this herb appear to stimulate joyful neurotransmitters, which makes cats excited.

If used properly, catnip has even been shown to improve feline behavior and lower stress levels.

In most cases, catnip will be fairly effective and make the cat come out of their hiding spots as they simply cannot resist the powerful lure of catnip.

So, if you decide to attract your feline friend with some catnip, try putting the catnip in your hand and offer it to the cat.

If the cat needs more time to feel secure enough to come out, then you can pour catnip in a small bowl near the cat’s hiding spot, or make a trail that leads out of the hiding place.

Provide The Cat With An Escape Route!

If your feline friend has a hard time getting out of the hiding spot, especially one that is unreachable, you should try to provide the cat with an escape route, by offering an even better hiding spot.

For example, provide a box that will attract the cat, and then you can easily take it back home where it can hide somewhere else.

This will actually be a good thing because the cat will soon realize that she’s safe in their environment and will come out. It’s much easier to keep an eye on your pet indoors.

Use The Cat’s Hunting Instincts!

Whether your cat is outdoor or indoor-only, they all have a natural hunting instinct that you can use to get the cat to come back to you.

If your feline’s hiding somewhere and won’t come out, try using a laser or fake mouse toy and get their attention with it. If you can trigger the cat to hunt, it may come out much more quickly. It worked for me once, so it may work for you too!

Use Your Cat’s Favorite Toy!

Almost every indoor cat has a favorite toy. Therefore, if your furry friend happens to escape and hides outside, you may be able to use its favorite toy to lure it out of its hiding spot.

You can shake the toy so that the cat can clearly see what you’re offering, and if the toy produces sound, you can use that too.

Cats will usually come out with the promise of playtime. If you can make your cat think of something positive, voilà, your cat may appear!

Use Your Voice!

Your voice is a safe, reassuring sound to your cat. If you’re the person that the cat has bonded with the most, or the one who takes care of them the most, the cat will remember your voice and be attracted to it as they associate it with something happy and safe.

If your feline friend really doesn’t want to come out of its hiding spot, try calling and talking to it as this may be helpful in helping it feel more relaxed. If it meows back, it usually means that you’ll succeed, you just need to encourage the cat a little more.

Pay Attention To…

If these friendly tips aren’t helpful, then you may need to force your feline to come out by herself. That can be a bit risky, and your cat may get scared even more, but that’s why you should be prepared.

Scared cats may react aggressively; they may hiss or even attack you with their claws to defend themselves, even if it’s you, their favorite owner! In case you need to grab them, make sure that you’re prepared so that your kitty doesn’t hurt you:

• Use the blanket when reaching the cat

• Wear protective gloves, or clothing

• Use a box or something similar as a new hiding place for the cat that will enable you to get them back inside the house.

If you cannot find your lovely furry friend anywhere, then you should ask for help in the local neighborhood as it is unlikely to have gone far from home.

Try looking for the cat through social media, by putting up their photo and your phone number so that people can contact you if they have any information.

How To Calm Down A Scared Cat?

owner petting cat

As we have seen, hiding is a common behavior for cats who are scared of something that we may not see or hear.

If you want to reduce hiding, the best thing is to calm your cat and let them know that they’re safe with you! So, how can you calm down a scared cat?

The key to calming a cat down is finding out what stresses the cat and then reducing that stress.

You can do this by following these tips:

• Separate the cat from other pets – if other pets frighten your cat, try isolating them in another room until your cat calms down.

Try putting your cat in a small, safe, and quiet room where they have access to food, water, a litter box, some toys and everything else that will make them feel safe and comfortable in that space.

• Isolate the cat when you’re having guests – if your guests are causing stress to your cat, isolating the cat to a safe room before the guests arrive is a good option.

• Reduce loud and sudden sounds – sometimes unfamiliar loud noises may frighten cats, therefore you should try to avoid loud unexpected sounds, or reassure your cat when there is unavoidable noise.

• Help them adjust to the new home – if your feline is afraid of the new home as it’s not familiar, try providing them with a few boxes or similar things that they can use as hiding spots so that they have some place where they’ll feel safe.

However, encourage the cat to get out of the hiding spot and to adjust to the new place. The best thing to do is to reward your cat every time they do something positive.

• Use calming sprays in order to calm down your feline friend – cats have many different ways of communication and one of them is through scents. Cats leave their pheromones to mark their territory by scratching or rubbing against everything.

Therefore, in order to calm your kitty, you can try using synthetic pheromone sprays or diffusers that actually mimic cat’s pheromones. These are designed to calm your cat down.

After How Long Will A Scared Cat Come Out?

cat hiding behind something

Finally, if you are wondering how long will a cat hide if scared outside, the answer to that question will depend on several things.

The period of hiding depends on what frightened the cat.

Stray cats may hide the longest, for around a week, because they don’t really have safe spots or anyone to protect them.

• A cat that is scared by sounds, vibrations or similar will calm down very soon, and may only hide for around an hour.

• If the cat is extremely frightened, it may hide until it is sure that the area is safe, and that may last up to 5 hours.

• A new cat, or a cat in a new environment may end up hiding for a day or two until it gets used to the environment and everything around them.

It’s a good idea to provide the cat with a few boxes or similar hiding posts, so that it has a safe, secure place to be calm and get used to the sounds and smells around it.

Some cats may stay hidden for an even longer period of time, especially if they’re sick or injured. Injured cats will usually stay hidden until they get better and feel stronger.

Sadly, some cats may never return as some of them will escape outside and run away when they sense their time has come to pass away.

How To Prevent Your Kitty From Getting Lost?

If your feline friend escapes outside and hides somewhere, it may be very difficult for you to find them as they have unlimited space where they can go and hide.

Indoor cats aren’t as sneaky or as street smart as outdoor cats and that may lead to a cat getting lost, so it may become even more frightened.

A microchip may be useful if someone else finds your lost cat, but it won’t actually help you track them down.

The best thing you can do in order to prevent your cat getting lost is to get a GPS tracker and put it on the cat’s collar. That way you can easily locate your kitty wherever they may be.

If you lose a cat and cannot find it anywhere, there’s an American non-profit organization called Missing Animal Response Network (formerly called Missing Pet Partnership), that was founded by a former police detective Kat Albrecht. They have experts for tracking lost cats and can be very helpful in finding your feline friend.


cat hiding under car

What Will Happen To The Cat If It Stays Outside Too Long?

If the cat stays outside for too long, especially without food or water, it may get scared even more, and it may become weakened and disorientated.

Most cats that hide somewhere outside do return back home when they realize that they’re safe, or become desperate for food and home comforts. However, cats that stay outside for too long may forget their way home.

There is also a risk that they may encounter other cats or other animals which may result in fights, injuries, infections, and even disease.

How Long Can A Cat Hide Without Eating?

If the cat keeps hiding, how long can it go without food? A cat can survive for a week or two without eating anything, but only if it has a source of water.

However, cats do need protein in order to survive, so even with water, it will be a struggle to stay alive. If a cat stays hidden without food or water, it likely won’t survive more than 2-3 days.

Naturally, cats that go outside to hide, will usually come out when they’re hungry or thirsty, thanks to their survival instinct. The only time when the cat will choose to stay hidden is if it senses that the end is near.

How Far Away Can A Cat Find Its Way Home?

Cats that escape and hide somewhere outside usually won’t go far away from home. So, if you cannot find your cat in your backyard, try searching in the local neighborhood.

However, even if they go a bit further away, they’re usually able to find their way back home, especially outdoor cats who are used to wandering around.

Most cats can go to places that are a mile away and easily find their way home, but it has been known for cats to travel as far as 80 miles far away, and still manage to come back home.

Should You Be Worried About Your Hiding Cat?

Hiding is a common cat behavior, and they may hide for many reasons. One of the main reasons why cats hide is because they’re scared.

You shouldn’t worry about your hiding cat, but you should work out why is a scared cat hiding and try to reduce stress so that the kitty can return home happily.

In Conclusion

cat hiding under car

So, this article needs to answer the main question which says: how long will a cat hide if scared outside? The answer is that cats may hide for different periods of times which depend on the reason that they felt scared in the first place.

That being said, cats may hide for a few hours, or even for a couple of days. In order to understand your cat’s hiding and escaping behavior and prevent it from happening again, you should try to understand what things may scare your cat, where they may hide, and how to calm them down.

I hope that this article helped you if you’re dealing with this or similar situations, and that the tips were as useful as they were for me when I had these problems.

Remember that cats are naturally independent animals and that we can never have complete control over them, but as responsible cat owners, we need to try to understand our cats’ behavior and do our best for our beloved pets!

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