How can I stop my cat from hiding under the bed in our new home?

I just moved across town into a new apartment. My cat Peanut has been acting really freaked out since we moved. She spends most of...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Feb 8th 2007


I just moved across town into a new apartment. My cat Peanut has been acting really freaked out since we moved. She spends most of her time under my bed. Why is she doing that, and what can I do to make it stop?

Cynthia
Billings, Montana

There are two big reasons why Peanut isn’t acting like herself. The first is that cats are territorial creatures of habit. When you moved, your cat’s familiar and comfortable world was turned upside down, and she was placed in an unfamiliar and frightening new territory. She doesn’t know what dangers could be lurking in the new apartment. Might there be another cat? A seven-headed monster? Or, worst of all, a vacuum cleaner? Therefore, she is spending a great deal of time in the preferred hiding spot for most cats — under the bed — because it’s the safest place in the apartment.

Over time, Peanut should adapt and come to accept your new apartment as her new territory. The process is likely to be gradual, and may take a while. You can ease the transition by avoiding major upsets or disturbances (such as having construction workers over to remodel) while she is adapting. As well, try to set aside some time each day during which you coax her out and gently pet or play with her. This will help to restore a semblance of normalcy to her life.

There is a second reason why Peanut may be acting stressed. If you are like me, you find moving to be extremely miserable. Therefore, you are probably on edge and suffering stress. As I have mentioned before, part of what makes pets so great is that they pick up our emotions and reflect them back to us. When we are happy, they become happy. When we are stressed, they become stressed. I’m no expert on human stress management, but I personally find few things more relaxing than sitting with a book in hand and a cat in my lap. So maybe setting some time aside for Peanut each day will help you both, in more ways than one.