I’m currently helping a cat who is a sensitive lady and easily troubled by the world around her (particularly other cats outside her home) so safety and security is a key priority for this little one as it is for many of our feline friends.
Research suggests that one of the most important things we can do to help our cats thrive is to provide them with places to hide for ‘me time’, resting and relaxing, de-stressing and to help our cats cope when they’re feeling worried or overwhelmed.
Hiding places should feel private and be big enough for your cat to get in to easily and turn around and settle in. You can offer soft and comfy igloos or cat cave beds away from draughts or create hiding places by popping blankets under beds or inside wardrobes or cupboards with the doors left slightly ajar – but take care not to shut your kitty inside!
Sometimes cats might like to hang out more in the open so they can see what’s going on around them. So safe comfy places to rest that are elevated but accessible also go down well with our feline friends.
Providing high up ‘hangouts’ and ‘hideouts’ (e.g. blankets or igloo beds on the tops of cupboards, wardrobes or units, platforms on cat trees and towers etc.) allow a cat to survey their surroundings from an elevated spot of safety – not only does this help them feel secure, it can also provide them with a greater sense of control and ownership over their environment. Check your cat can access these places safely – use secure steps, ramps or strategically placed pieces of furniture, if necessary, particularly for cats who are older or have issues with their mobility.
Cats love choice so providing loads of options (the more the merrier) around the home in different locations that are quiet and away from busy rooms and thoroughfares will help your cat opt for the best spot for them based on how they’re feeling at the time and what’s going on around them. This also helps with a cat’s sense of control over their environment.
Having options in areas of the home where you spend time too are also great for your cat. Cats who like to spend time around you but aren’t fans of sitting on your lap or next to you on the sofa might appreciate having somewhere to rest and hang out in the same space as you.
My cat Scorpious used to like hiding and hanging out at floor level under beds, tables or chairs so strategically draped throws or blankets to create hidden spots were a particular favourite of his. Experiment and try different things to see what your cat prefers – they’ll vote with their paws.
Remember to locate these snuggly beds and hiding places away from litter trays, food and water as your cat will probably appreciate them being located away from these other key resources.
Choices of spots around the home also helps reduce tension in multi-cat households as there are plenty of options to go around.
We know a lot of cats love cardboard boxes – great for resting and hiding. They’re comfortable, offer privacy, help keep a cat warm, and they also absorb scents well too, so a cardboard box will soon start to smell like home once your cat begins to use it. This familiar scent will make it even more irresistible to your cat as a place of safety and comfort.
With cardboard boxes, you can turn them on their long side and pop a snuggly blanket inside or do half and half – blanket on one side and bare cardboard on the other so your cat has a choice of where to rest. Try draping a towel over most of the opening for added privacy with a gap at one side for your cat to go in and out and also so they can peer out from inside to keep an eye on what’s going on around them.
Using old cardboard boxes means we also get to recycle too whilst keeping the costs of providing for our cat’s welfare down. You can even create a ‘kitty hideaway’ by recycling a large cardboard box and an old t-shirt that smells of you – here’s a video from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home that shows you how to make one https://youtu.be/v9irfr1LbMI.
Finally, if your cat has gone to one of their private places for some ‘me time’, follow cat etiquette and leave them to it so they can rest undisturbed.
If you notice your cat starting to hide more, it might be sign that something’s not right from their perspective, so I’d recommend a check up at your vet as a next step to make sure they’re feeling okay.
For The Understood Cat’s website, go to https://www.theunderstoodcat.com/.