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Do you have a skittish cat who hides under the bed when something scares her? A cat’s natural instinct, when faced with something unknown, is to keep her distance and figure out whether this new thing is safe. For many cats, that means hiding under the bed.
Why you shouldn’t let your cat hide under the bed
Jackson Galaxy calls those inaccessible places cats can hid in “the unders.” “If you’ve got cats, you should not have unders,” he cautions. I couldn’t agree more. If your cat hides under the bed during stressful situation, you won’t be able to get to her in an emergency. Like Jackson, I’ve heard devastating stories of people being unable to get their cats out from under the bed when they had to evacuate their home on short notice.
Another reason not to allow your cat under the bed is that it never challenges your kitty to overcome her fears. As Jackson writes on his blog, “for any parent, there are times we demonstrate our love through comfort, and other times through challenge. … Whether your child has two legs or four, what all parents want for them is to be the greatest version of themselves possible. This can’t be done while cats are caving (hiding) and while we unwittingly reinforce it.”
I never liked the idea of my cats getting under the bed, but I confess that I didn’t do anything other than occasionally worry about it until Ruby got sick. Toward the end of her life, she sometimes hid under the bed. At the very center of the mattress, all the way under the headboard. There would have been no way for me to get to her, short of dismantling the bed. We know that some cats start to hide when they’re ready to die, and the thought of her dying all alone under my bed was more than I could bear. If propelled me into action, and I finally did something about blocking off the “unders.”
How to block off access under your bed
There are a number of options to block off the area under your bed (or any other piece of furniture your cat could squeeze under.)
- Under Bed Blockers are available in a variety of sizes and materials, but I found that they won’t work on carpeted floors.
- Under bed storage containers come in both hard and soft-sided versions, and who can’t use extra storage! Measure carefully to make sure that the containers you buy will fit under your particular bed.
- I’ve seen people run chicken wire around the legs of the bed to block off access, but while it may be effective, it’s not exactly the most attractive solution.
- If you’re in the market for a new bed, replace your bed with a storage bed. They come in many different styles.
Give your cat alternate hiding places
If you are blocking off access to under the bed and have a cat who considers that area her safe space, you must offer alternatives so she can still hide and feel safe. Boxes, covered cat beds or a cat cave are all good options.
How I blocked off the “unders”
I used a combination of under bed storage containers and pillows. I found body pillows particularly useful for this purpose. They’re not quite the width of my queen size bed, but shoving them under the bed turned out to be easier than getting some of the storage containers to fit.
I didn’t want to block off under bed access completely, because Allegra does go under the bed when something spooks her. I blocked off everything except for about a foot wide area at the end of the bed. This way she can still go under, and the bed skirt provides the “cave effect”, but I can easily reach her if I have to get her out.
Do your cats hide under the bed? Have you thought about how to stop them from doing that?
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