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Why Is My Cat Hiding In A New House?

If you have noticed that your cat is hiding within your own home it may seem weird, or worrying. But why is this happening? And, what can be done about it?

Why Is My Cat Hiding In A New House?

When you’ve just bought a new home, it is very stressful for your new feline family member. It is a completely new place, after all, and there are new people and possibly even other animals there. Cats are creatures of habit and so any changes to their living arrangements, even switching up furniture, is a source of stress.

So, now you know. But, will it eventually get used to it? Can my cat remember where it used to live? How can I prevent it from hiding?  Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Will my cat get used to my new home?

A white cat on a brown wooden shelf.

A white cat on a brown wooden shelf.

Don’t worry, your cat will certainly get used to it, and there are things that you can do to help. If you have more than one animal, then be sure to use a baby-gate to seal off a room so that your cat can be alone. Make sure that the litter box and food are close nearby, so that your cat can use them as needed.

It takes a little time, but if you do these things then your cat will slowly grow more comfortable with their surroundings and begin to explore. You just need to be patient with the process!

Do cats remember where they used to live?

Yes, cats do remember where they used to live and what’s more, they can ‘hone in’ on that area like a GPS system if they have lived long enough. As such, if you want to allow your cat outside, then you need to wait 2 to 3 weeks or even better, 4 to 6 weeks before you let them go out.

Before this, your cat is still going to be focused on their old location and they may even try to go there. So, keep your kitty inside for a bit before letting them out.

That way, if they get lost, they’ll have a mental marker of their new home in their mind, along with the old one, and in most cases they’ll be able to come home to you instead of getting lost or looking for their old home.

How can I prevent my cat from hiding?

Don’t prevent your cat from hiding – this is just going to stress them out more and you might get bitten or scratched for your troubles! Instead, if you’ve identified their hiding spot, make sure that food, water, and their litter box are nearby so that they can sneak out and use them when they need to.

Coming to a new home is very stressful for a new kitty, so hiding is quite natural behavior. Your cat is frightened for now, but with a little time they will learn that their new home is safe and they will start to explore.

If you like, you can peek in from time to time and leave out treats to help show your cat that you mean them no harm. Don’t worry, your cat will come around, they just need to hide for now until they feel safe.

How can I make my cat feel more comfortable in my new home?

Making sure that they have easy access to food and the litter box is your first priority. If you have a dog in the house, then you might also consider walling off a room with a ‘baby barrier’ gate so that your cat has some private space where they don’t feel pressured.

Check on your cat from time to time and be liberal with treats, just don’t force interaction – you want to let your cat come to you. After they’ve seen that you aren’t going to harm them, your cat should relax a bit and begin exploring the house. It just takes a little time.

How long does it take for a cat to get used to a new home?

A lot will depend on your cat, but generally it only takes about 2 to 5 days for a cat to get over their initial fear and to start exploring their new home.

During this time, you need to be very careful when using the door to go outside – cats remember where they used to live and have an uncanny ability when it comes to finding that place.

They should not go outside until they have had at least a few weeks to ‘imprint’ the location of their new home, otherwise they could get lost. So, keep an eye on your cat to make sure that they don’t get out but expect them to start exploring within a few days of getting home.

Cats are famously curious, after all, and once they see that they are safe, warm, and fed then their attitude about their new home will make a definite and positive shift.

How long will my cat hide after moving?

A white and brown cat hiding behind a seat cushion.

A white and brown cat hiding behind a seat cushion.

While it could take a couple of weeks, in most cases a cat will stop hiding within 2 to 5 days of being brought to their new home. Make sure that your home is cat-proofed before bringing them in, so that there are no crawl spaces or areas that they can get into and possibly get trapped.

When you get your kitty home, open up the pet crate but don’t force them to come out or ‘dump’ them on the floor – let your cat come out when they are good and ready and have food and water within reach and a litterbox nearby in the room.

Keep these essentials in that room or wherever they have decided to hide and your cat should relax within a few days once they know they are safe.

Is it normal for cats to hide after moving?

Yes, this is completely normal behavior and should be expected in most cases. Your cat is a predator, albeit a small one, and it’s a bit overwhelming to suddenly be in a new, unfamiliar place where they feel completely vulnerable.

Make sure that they’ve got food, water, and a litter box nearby and give the cat a little time to adjust to their new surroundings. Your cat will come out when they are ready!

How do cats adjust to a new home?

Cats adjust largely by putting their scent everywhere. Don’t panic – we don’t mean by spraying, although that can and sometimes does occur. When your cat lays somewhere or rubs their head against something, their scent glands in these places are subtly marking whatever they rub with their scent.

This helps to calm a cat and make them feel more at home. You can speed up the process with a pheromone diffuser or let your cat simply explore and interact with their new environment. Usually they’ll adjust within a few days.

Can cats get depressed after moving?

Yes, cats can get depressed from moving to a new place, missing a former owner, or losing animal friends by means of a move or a natural death. Signs can include sleeping all of the time, moping, hiding, or even excess grooming.

Be patient with this, as it’s often quite normal, but if you are worried then don’t hesitate to bring your cat in for a vet visit. They may be able to provide medications or suggestions that can be most helpful in helping your cat to move on and become more accepting of their new home.

What does anxiety in cats look like?

When a cat is feeling anxiety, common symptoms may include general restlessness, pacing, hiding, or in more severe cases, excessive salivation and under or overgrooming. If this does not change within a day or two of bringing your cat home, then a trip to the vet is a good idea in order to determine the best next steps.

Lindsey Browlingdon