DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I cannot keep my cat “Jess” out of the closet! Even though I keep the sliding doors closed, as soon as I open them to get something, she jumps right in and hides in the very back corner. How can I stop this? – Frustrated in Fresno
DEAR FRUSTRATED: There must be something awesome about that closet. Wait, I know: It’s a dark, cozy hiding spot… something most cats love. There may be something attractive on the floor of the closet, like strings dangling from a bag of knitting or small lint balls.
Or, your cat could be hiding from a perceived threat. Do you have a dog or another cat? Jess could be looking for a place where she isn’t bullied or barked at.
Is Jess spayed? If not, has she spent time outside or been in contact with other cats? Pregnant cats begin hunting for a dark, safe spot as the time to have their kittens approaches. If you’re not sure, take Jess to the vet to get her checked out.
Is she showing signs of possible illness – like personality changes, lethargy, excessive meowing, not cleaning her coat or other strange behavior? Cats that are sick will instinctively try to hide to avoid predators. Take her to the vet if anything seems amiss, even a little bit.
If none of these apply and Jess’ health checks out, employ some redirection. Sprinkle a little peppermint oil on the floor of the closet, or put down some duct tape – the tape feels weird to cats, and they’ll avoid it. Meantime, provide an acceptable alternative hiding spot, like an elevated cat climber with a shelter cubby. And keep Jess out of the room if possible before opening the closet door.
Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Paw’s Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. For more pet care-related advice and information, visit www.pawscorner.com. © 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.