Has your cat been absent for longer than usual? If so, you are probably a bit worried. He may simply have fallen asleep somewhere, or he might be hiding – under your furniture or in the shed, for example – for a valid reason.
Cats are masters at hiding, and it is perfectly normal for them to spend a large part of the day in one of their favorite hiding spots. However, this behavior can be frustrating when you are calling your cat and nothing will make him come out.
Tasty treats might seem like an easy solution to lure him out, but it might not always work, particularly if he is hiding out of fear. You might then need to resort to other creative methods to calm your cat down and bring him out of hiding.
One recommendation is to use sounds that our pets may find naturally soothing. But what sounds, exactly, would be best in this scenario? All of this is explained in detail below.
Why your cat is hiding
Cats often conceal themselves when they feel stressed, upset, or frightened. This might have something to do with a new family pet, moving to a new residence, or noise from a nearby construction site. Hiding in enclosed spaces makes cats feel safe and secure, so if your cat is feeling anxious, he might seek out a small space, such as under your bed, as a perfect refuge.
Some cats even hide when nothing is wrong – hiding simply makes them feel comfortable and happy. This is instinctive feline behavior. As long as your furry friend stays indoors and you provide him with a safe hiding spot, then it should not cause you any concern.
The problem arises if your cat is sociable and not normally a hider, but has now suddenly concealed himself. Such a behavioral change is often indicative of an underlying issue, such as a serious illness or injury. Many cats resort to hiding when they feel vulnerable – this is a survival instinct. And, they can squeeze their bodies into remarkably tiny spots in their quest to make themselves invisible!
Before you try to retrieve your cat, try to understand what is causing this change in behavior. If you suspect that he is sick, make sure to call your vet right away!
Sounds to lure cats out of hiding
Although food is often the most effective way to retrieve your cat, you can also use sounds to tempt him into the open. Try using one of the following sounds to attract Fluffy and bring him out of hiding:
1. Call your cat’s name
If you have trained your furry friend to respond when his name is called, then this is definitely the first trick you should try to lure him out!
But how do you train your cat to come when you call his name? It might sound like a daunting task, but it is very doable. The trick is to create a positive association with the sound of his name, and this can be in the form of treats or attention. Just keep in mind that not all cats will respond right away – you need to be extra patient!
As an added tip, try using a high-pitched tone when calling your cat’s name. Some owners also follow this up with a “pspspsps” sound, which seems to work for most cats.
Never try to call your cat with a loud voice, especially if you are feeling frustrated, as this might scare him away. If you cannot seem to make him respond, do not be discouraged; just give him time to relax and try again in a while.
Have you ever tried whistling at your cat and received a feisty look in response? That is because cats have a great sense of hearing – their ears can pick up higher pitches far beyond the range heard by humans or even dogs. High-pitched tones also mimic the sounds produced by prey such as rodents and birds.
However, some cats might respond differently to a whistling sound. Instead of getting irritated, they may respond with affection. Your cat’s response will depend on his individual personality.
So, if you are feeling frustrated at not being able to lure your feline out hiding, try whistling! He might soon come out feeling annoyed or excited – it does not matter which, as long as you have accomplished your goal.
3. Try to play – or make – meowing sounds
Contrary to what many people believe, cats do not typically communicate with other cats by meowing. Feline-to-feline meowing only occurs between kittens and their mother. As kittens grow into adult cats, they learn to use the same meowing sounds to communicate with their humans – whether they are seeking attention, feeling frightened, or want a can of tuna.
So it is possible that playing meowing sounds might trigger curiosity in some cats. They might want to investigate the source and check whether there is another cat in the house. However, keep in mind that all cats are different – while some might react curiously to the sound, others might simply ignore it or join in the meowing.
4. Try playing bird sounds
Cats generally feel excited when they see birds or hear them chirping. Every cat owner can attest to this, as they have witnessed the bird-watching habits of their furry companions. So, the idea here is to play recorded bird sounds to see if your cat actually comes out to look for his potential prey.
Additionally, by playing bird sounds, you can help your anxious cat calm down a bit. It might take some time for him to give in to his natural instincts, so patience is key! In the end, few cats will be able to resist the flapping and chirping of their favorite prey.
5. Play some classical music
Music has a calming effect on cats. Some veterinary clinics even use music to calm anxious cats and make their visits smoother.
However, not all types of human music are attractive to cats – so how do you know which music is appropriate for your anxious feline?
Cats generally prefer sounds that they associate with positive early-life experiences. For example, these sounds might entail the purring or sucking noises that cats commonly hear during kittenhood. Most cats also prefer sounds that are an octave higher than a human’s voice – that is, sounds with a high pitch.
So, if you are planning to lure Fluffy out of hiding, try to play music that includes high-pitched instruments like violins or electronic keyboards. Additionally, you should avoid playing aggressive sounds like techno or heavy metal music. Hence, classical music is probably your safest option to appease your furry friend.
6. Talk to your cat in a gentle voice
Cats can gauge their humans’ mood by the tone of their voice. They know if you are being affectionate towards them, and if you are angry or upset with them, they will know that, too. They are highly intuitive and sensitive creatures, and for this reason you should never yell at your cat if he knocks something over. If you do, he will become increasingly fearful of you which will greatly damage your relationship.
Animal behaviorists recommend speaking to your pets in a soft, gentle voice. Cats might not understand your words, but they can definitely pick up the tone of your voice. Talk to your furry friend in a slightly raised, happy tone to make him feel more confident. Eventually, your sweet, gentle voice will bring him out from his hiding spot because he trusts you.
7. Try shaking a bag of treats
The sound of a bag of treats could mean feeding time, and not many cats can resist a tasty snack. Most cats respond when they hear the crinkle of a plastic bag, because they associate the sound with treats. Cats have good memories and it is easier to lure them out using sounds that come with positive associations, such as treats or meal times. Some cats even respond to the sound of their food bowls, so use this to your advantage.
Other ways to get cats out of hiding
If your cat does not respond to any of these sounds, then you will have to try other available methods to coax him from his hiding spot. These steps are proven to be effective:
- Place treats near your cat’s hiding area. Cats cannot resist the smell of tuna, cat biscuits, or meat.
- Lure your cat with his favorite toy. Do not make sudden movements, though, as this might frighten him. Instead, let your cat’s natural instinct draw him to the toy so that you can slowly coax him out of his hideout.
- Use catnip or Feliway cat spray – cats love these scents and they will not hesitate to come out to find the source of the smell.
- Give your feline friend enough time and space. Perhaps he just needs to get away from something that stressed him out.
- Remove environmental stressors, be it another pet, a noisy vacuum cleaner, or an unfamiliar object that makes your cat anxious.
Wrapping it up
Persuading your cat to come out of hiding can be challenging. He will happily lay low for hours on end, and this can be really frustrating especially if he is hiding in a dangerous spot in your home.
Do not be discouraged – there are several tips mentioned in this post that should work very well to lure your cat into the open again. However, if all else fails and your cat starts to hiss and bite when you approach his hideout, you should seek professional help – especially if he has been hiding outside your home for an extended period. Also, if the hiding behavior is unusual and happens suddenly, contact your vet right away to rule out any underlying health issues.
Image: istockphoto.com / Selcuk1