How to Lure a Cat out of Hiding

By Quentin Coleman

Cats are masters of concealment, so you can expect them to hide themselves when they are frightened, stressed or in pain. Drawing a cat from his hiding place can be as simple as placing some tantalizing food nearby, but it's not always that easy. If you are having trouble locating your kitty or if he refuses to budge from his shelter, you may have to resort to a more creative or long-term strategy.

Finding Cats Outside

If you think your inside cat has escaped to the great outdoors, act quickly. In the majority of cases, an escaped cat finds a hiding place very close to home. Check under the deck, in the bushes and other areas that your cat has easy access to. Microwave a plate of canned tuna or wet food and leave it outside for a while. Your cat's hunger likely will overcome his fear of the outdoors when his stomach is empty. Familiar smells also can help your kitty find his way back if he's disoriented. Place his litter box, bed or an article of your clothing outside to help him find home. You can set humane cat traps as a last resort, although you shouldn't leave them out overnight unattended. Consider leaving a little bit of dry food and water outside in case he comes back overnight.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Shy cats are sensitive to loud noise and sudden movements. Raising your arm too fast can send him cowering back under the furniture in a flash. When attempting to lure your cat out, move your body slowly and quietly. Kneel or sit on the floor as you call or reach out to him. Consider using a toy to catch his attention and encourage him to chase it out of his hiding spot instead of reaching in to pull him out. Shut the door and ask your family to avoid the room to keep the environment calm and controlled.

Drawing Out Shy Cats

Some cats are more confident or sociable than others. Be patient and persistent to get good results. Use toys, catnip and treats or wet food to encourage your cat to come out from under the couch, bed or basement rafters. Place these lures near his hiding place, but make sure he has to come out a bit to reach them. Shake the bag of treats every time you give him some to condition your cat to respond to the sound. This can give you an easy way to "call" your cat when needed.

Acclimating New Cats

Newly adopted cats are generally skittish and fearful as they adjust to new owners and a completely alien environment. It's common for kitties to take a few days or weeks to adjust to their new home. Give new pets, especially those adopted as adults, some space and time. Place them in a private room where they are separated from other pets, and set up a convenient hiding place for them to use. Leave food, water and litter in the immediate vicinity and allow the cat to use them at his leisure. Give him a chance to grow accustomed to your appearance and smell before introducing your other pets. Spend time with him every day, even if you just sit with him while he eats.