Who remembers that TikTok trend with cats and cucumbers that took the world by storm a couple of years back? We certainly came a long way as pet parents since then. For starters, we learned not to scare our fluffy friends with vegetables. While we’re on the topic, how long will a cat hide outside if she’s afraid?
Maybe you decided to succumb to peer pressure. Or, maybe you accidentally figured out that cats are afraid of many, many things other than cucumbers. And, you might be starting to make sense of the whole “scaredy cat” thing.
Whatever the case may be, there’s no denying that cats get startled on a regular. And, as a novice pet parent, you might be wondering whether you’re doing something to make your furry friend think she’s under attack.
Here’s the thing. A cat’s fight-or-flight responses are often operating on a higher level when they’re around bigger predators (a.k.a. you). Or even when there’s some type of danger lurking around the corner (a.k.a. your friends and family).
Sure, your precious purrincess doesn’t even come close to the wilderness these days. But, that gut feeling of hers often tricks her into thinking she needs to hide to protect herself (even when she, realistically, doesn’t need to).
Of course, then you have to deal with the mess of trying to figure out why she’s hiding, where she’s hiding, and how to get her to stop hiding. But, we’re here to offer a helping hand and give you our two cents on how long your cat might hide outside when she’s scared.
There might be something other than “being chicken” that’s making your fluffer scared out of her wits. And, we’re hoping to figure that out together.
Why do cats hide outside when they’re scared?
Cats appreciate enclosed spaces more than you might think! How many times have you witnessed your cat hiding under the table, napping under a cardboard box, or even doing God-knows-what inside your kitchen cabinets?
Of course, your answer would have to be “Many!” or “A million!” for you to understand what we’re talking about. But, seems as though you’ve witnessed your cat running outside the moment she gets scared a million times, too.
And, you’ve wondered whether cats hide outside when they’re scared because the outside reminds them of the wilderness. Or, perhaps there’s a different reason.
More often than not, cats hide outside because the thing that scared them, overwhelmed them, or annoyed them happened where they would normally go (how obvious?!) Maybe you had a lot of people over and your fluffer wanted to hide under the table. But, she figured she wouldn’t be safe there.
Maybe you were vacuuming the apartment (we know how much cats hate the dreaded suction device!). And, she wanted to hide under the blanket. But, she found out that the blanket doesn’t muffle the sound.
So, naturally, her fight-or-flight response made her storm out of the apartment and run straight to your neighbor’s shed. And, now you’re trying to figure out how long a cat hides outside when she’s scared.
How long do cats hide outside when they’re scared?
There’s no way of knowing the exact number of hours, of course! We can argue that a cat might hide for five hours after getting scared by a cucumber. But, what happens after those five hours go by?
Does she appear the moment the timer goes off? Does she start meowing outside of your apartment the moment the clock ticks the right time?
To be completely honest, that would be the perfect example of strange behavior you should keep an eye on (rather than freaking out because your fluffy friend ran away to your neighbor, again). But, to answer your question, your cat should come out of hiding the moment she doesn’t feel scared anymore.
Whether that means you managed to remove the cause of her fears. Whether that means she decided she’s no longer scared of whatever caused her to freak out. She’s going to stop hiding outside when she feels she’s safe and secure when she comes out.
Not only that, but the longevity of her departure depends on the circumstances, the environment, and a bunch of other factors that might not have even crossed your mind.
To give you an example, a cat that ran away because she got lightly startled by something she saw on TV might come back after a couple of minutes or so.
But, a cat that stormed out of the apartment because she got overwhelmed, didn’t know where she was, and got scared of something (a dog, another cat) might disappear for a couple of days.
Whatever the case might be, there’s always something you can do to help her out. But, why was she hiding outside in the first place?!
5 reasons why your cat might be hiding outside
“Now what?!” you might be thinking while you’re looking for your furry friend. “Why would she even run away?” sounds like a reasonable question to ask when you’re completely unaware of what might have upset her enough to take off out of the apartment and hold on to wherever she left (for hours).
Maybe you didn’t even catch the moment when she got scared of something. Maybe you missed the cues that communicated the fact that she wasn’t comfortable. That she was scheming to leave the room without anyone following her. She succeeded, but at what cost?
Turns out the number one thing you need to do when you’re trying to get her out of hiding’s to remove the thing that made her storm off at the outset. Therefore, we’re bringing you a number of reasons that might have been the trigger for her departure. Take a look at them and proceed with caution.
1. She’s scared of people she doesn’t know
Trust me, one of the most common reasons why cats hide outside when they’re scared seems to be that they’re running away from people they don’t know.
Some cats behave great when meeting new people. Others might not feel as comfortable when you introduce them to your friends and family. Especially if we’re talking about cats that are newly adopted.
But, why does that happen? When a cat doesn’t go through the socialization process when she’s younger, she’s more likely to have a harder time dealing with other people and other animals when she’s older.
So, when you adopt a kitten, make sure to expose her to different experiences to ensure she’s more comfortable when she’s going places and meeting people without getting the urge to run away and hide outside.
Of course, you can do the same thing with a grown cat. But, don’t shy away from contacting your veterinarian or scheduling an appointment with an animal behaviorist. Better to seek professional help than to have your cat run away whenever she sees your mother, as they say.
2. She’s scared of the house she doesn’t recognize
Oh, there’s something heartbreaking about a kitten you adopt that’s afraid of your house (or even you)!
But, you shouldn’t be surprised when that happens because some kittens go through a lot before they’re adopted. They might need some time to settle down. They might need to learn the nooks and crannies that make them feel safe and secure.
What do you do when your cat doesn’t want to spend time inside your house? How long does a cat that’s scared of your house hide outside? Chances are, those are the questions that are running through your mind when you’re trying to understand how to approach the situation.
There might be a couple of things you could do to speed up the process. But, you shouldn’t steer clear from simply letting your cat take as much time as she needs.
Trust me, once she realizes there’s nothing to be scared of, she won’t leave the comfort of her home without you luring her outside with a freakin’ chicken nugget.
3. She’s stressed out
“What does she have to be stressed about?!”
Oh, you don’t have a clue about how many times we’ve heard that question. Sure, we can’t argue that cats have the same problems humans do. However, they can deal with stressful situations and events that cause them anxiety.
To begin with, your four-legged friend might have been anxious about a pending veterinary visit. Perhaps she noticed you were getting ready. She caught a glimpse of you packing up her things and leaving your partner a message on the fridge. So, she decided she was better off hiding under your neighbor’s outdoor furniture for the time being.
On the other hand, she might be stressed out because of the people that were there. She might have freaked out because of strange sounds or even because of something she saw while she was looking through the window.
Whatever the case might be, make sure you take the necessary steps to reduce her stress (and bring her back, of course).
4. She’s overwhelmed
“With what?” We’re kidding, however, there are times when our furry friends frustrate us because we can’t understand why they’re doing the things they’re doing.
But, the only truth that should set you free should be the one that cats react to things differently than humans. And, what makes your cat feel overwhelmed doesn’t have to be the same thing that makes you scream from the top of your lungs.
So, the same thing that we discussed beforehand applies here.
Cats can feel overwhelmed when they’re hanging out with a bunch of people. They can freak out when they’re playing with cats that haven’t played with before. They can get scared when dealing with strange sounds and getting picked on by other animals (that’s a thing?!).
But, what do you do when your cat hides outside because she’s scared and overwhelmed? Remove whatever made her feel that way. Make sure she knows you’re there when she’s ready to come back. And, give her enough time to process and deal with what happened. That should do the trick!
5. She’s scared of strange sounds
We can be honest here, right? Chances are, you traumatized your fluffy friend by playing Taylor Swift for ten hours straight. Or, you made her rethink her life choices by throwing a Y2K-themed party and playing “Oops!… I did it again” by Britney Spears on replay. Cats and culture don’t seem to go together, right?
We’re kidding, of course! But, though that might sound strange, there are a bunch of sounds that can make your cat lose her mind. We’re talking about high-frequency sounds that irritate their ears, unknown sounds that make them scared and anxious, thunderstorms, fireworks, and even balloons.
So, when you notice your cat’s getting uncomfortable with whatever she’s hearing, make sure to remove the source of the sound. Other than that, keep those sounds to a minimum. Or else, your fluffer might be running away more often than you’re willing to chase after her.
5 ways to find your cat when she’s hiding outside
Okay, you’re no longer concerned with how long your cat might hide outside when she’s scared. But, you’re concerned with how on Earth you’re supposed to get her out of trouble when you don’t even know where she went.
Whether she’s napping behind your neighbor’s shed. Whether she’s watching over you from the top of a tree. There’s always something you can do to help her out.
Therefore (before you contact your local fire department for the fifth time this week), throw a glance at the strategies we managed to gather for your sake.
Don’t forget, there’s a chance she’s overwhelmed and stressed out, which might require more time and energy on your part. Be patient and she should be as good as new before you can even utter “Mrs. McFluffer, come back!”
1. Remove the cause of her fears
Of course, when you notice your fluffy friend hasn’t gone back from her escapades on her own, you might want to do something to make her want to come back. More times than not, cats come back home when they calm down, forget what happened, and occupy themselves with something else.
But, when you need to do something to help them out, your best chances seem to be to remove whatever caused them to storm off at the start.
Whether that means you need to turn off the music you were listening to. Whether that means you need to politely ask your friends to pack up and leave. She’s going to come back when she feels safe and secure (and only then).
And, when you remove the cause of her fears, don’t shy away from retreating. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with calling her name and trying to lure her out. But, she’s going to come back whenever she’s ready to face the world anyways.
Other than that, you might be in a hurry to deal with the situation – try these things, then.
2. Use your voice (and call her by her name)
We know there’s nothing worse than not knowing where your four-legged friend sowed away when she got scared. However, you might find comfort in the fact that most cats go somewhere near when they’re afraid because they don’t want to forget how to come back home.
And, most cats don’t get scared because of something you did. Of course, that means they’re not hiding from you, they’re hiding from whatever scared them.
That’s great news for you because you can go outside and scream your cat’s name from the top of your lungs. Or, you can take the more appropriate route and make sure she knows you’re looking for her by speaking to her (in a soft voice).
So, given that she’s close, she’s going to hear you and return because she knows you’re going to keep her safe. Other than that, you can get her to meow back at you which can help you figure out where her meows are coming from. Clever, right?
3. Use treats (or catnip)
We aren’t saying you should trick your cat, but… We’re saying you should trick your cat. At the risk of repeating ourselves, most of the time cats come back the moment they feel better about whatever happened.
A cat that’s hiding outside because she’s scared of something should come back the moment she’s no longer scared, right? But, there are times when you don’t feel like waiting. Maybe you’re running late for work and you don’t have the time to twiddle your thumbs while waiting for her to come to her senses.
Or, maybe you’re getting anxious about the fact that she’s been outside for quite some time and you’re looking to put an end to the situation. Whatever your motives might be, you can always trick her to come out of hiding with treats.
Take a package of Fancy Feast. Walk around your backyard (or wherever you think she might be) and make muffled cracking sounds. Put some kibble in a box and shake it around. Call out her name while you’re working to figure out where the meows are coming from.
4. Seek help when necessary
Don’t, and we can’t stress that enough, hold back from seeking help when you’re looking for your cat! Depending on the circumstances, your cat might have freaked out over something that happened, run away, and forgotten how to come back (that mostly happens with cats that don’t spend much time outdoors).
Now, that means that the whole “wait for her to calm down and come back” thing might not work. Maybe she’s afraid to come back because she doesn’t know whether you’ve destroyed the thing that made her walk away.
Maybe she doesn’t know how to come back. Or, not to make you any more alarmed than you already are, maybe something attacked her while she was outside. Whatever the case might be, you’re better off asking your neighbors, friends, and family for help than trying to find her on her own.
Start from your house (or apartment) and work your way outwards. Search at night when the sounds die down and you’re more likely to hear her meowing. Seek surveillance camera footage from your neighbors. Make flyers, post on social media, and employ anyone who might be able to help you track her down.
5. Give her time to calm down
We’re, by no means, telling you to give up on your cat when she’s hiding outside because she’s scared of something. On the contrary, we’re telling you to do everything you can to find her and bring her back home where she’s safe, sound, and out of harm’s way.
But, what do you do when you’ve already employed every single strategy we talked about? Though that might not sound appealing at the moment, give your fluffy friend enough time to calm down and come back home on her own.
More times than not, cats continue hiding for as long as they can hear people looking for them – because they’re waiting for “predators” to leave.
Rather than freaking out, try thinking out of the box. Leave some food on the porch for her on the off chance that she gets hungry and returns home to eat.
Set up cameras to ensure you don’t miss the moment she comes out of hiding and reaches your porch. Leave her litterbox outside. Some people argue that the scent might help her track her way back home. Good luck!