Upon bringing your new little furball home, you might notice that he immediately heads for a place to hide, such as under the bed or in a closet. Hiding is normal for kittens, especially in a new environment where they feel scared and overwhelmed by their new surroundings.
Newborn kittens are small, vulnerable creatures that snuggle up to mom for warmth and safety, usually in a nesting box or similar setup. Later in life, kittens and adult cats will continue to sneak off to spaces like this, places that are comfortable, warm and safe, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. When your little guy becomes scared or anxious, he'll seek out the comfort of a cozy hiding nook he can decompress in. Your little one doesn't want to be caught unaware by a potential predator -- this is part of his instinctual behavior -- so he'll seek out a snug spot, like the inside of a drawer or under the bed, to lie low.
When your new kitty arrives home, he'll be intimidated by some of the new smells, sounds, strangers and spaces he encounters. With all this stimulation and uncertainty, he'll typically want to hide immediately upon being let out of his carrier. It's best to ease him into his new environment by setting up a room for him to hang out in. Place a litter box, food and water dishes in the room, along with some fun toys to play with and a safe spot to hide in, like a cardboard box or a cat condo. This way he'll feel safe and you'll know where he is.
Upon coming home, your little furry buddy will possibly hide for a few days before approaching you, according to the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA. This is why a safe room is so important; it allows you to interact with your little guy regularly instead of worrying about where he could possibly be in your home. Use food rewards, like yummy pieces of chicken or a spoonful of chicken baby food, to tempt your little guy out of hiding so he'll begin to get used to your presence. Remember, it's important to get him used to people so he won't be as apt to stay in hiding.
One of the dangers of letting a small kitten immediately have free access to your entire home is that he'll likely find a spot to hide that is potentially dangerous to him. That space within a dishwasher or dryer, inside a reclining chair, or on top of the soft clothing in a dresser drawer, looks like a potentially inviting and safe spot to your furry friend. Unfortunately, these spaces and ones like them can end up being dangerous and even fatal for him. Once your little one is ready to come out of his safe room, keep a close eye on him. Make sure to put child-proof locks on your cabinets; always check your appliances before closing them in case your feline companion decides to use one of them as a hiding spot.
It's important to provide your furry companion with spots that are safe for him to hide in so you know where he is and so he won't potentially get hurt while in them. Cardboard boxes lined with blankets or cat carriers make perfectly suitable hiding spots for him, as do paper bags. Remember to let your kitten come out of hiding on his own -- never pull or physically force him out of hiding. This will only make him fear you and delay the socialization process to people. It's important that he always feels safe around you and in his owner-approved hiding spots.
- Stanford Cat Network: Guide to Caring for Your Adopted Cat or Kitten
- PetPlace.com: Why Do Cats Like Small Places?
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Questions About Cats
- Catster: 10 Hazardous Hiding Places for Cats
- San Diego Humane Society and SPCA: Introducing a Cat to a New Territory: The Importance of Confinement
- Petfinder: Breaking the Ice (Bringing Home a New Cat)
- WebMD: Bonding with Your New Kitten
- Alley Cat Allies: Socializing Feral Kittens
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