4

When I have friends visiting, my cat will hide under my bed for the entire time my friends are over. Once they leave, she comes out of hiding and is being herself again. Why does she only hide at the time I have company over?

4

My cat does this all the time, well technically it's my sister's cat but we lived together while I was in college, ONE thing I noticed is that my cat was very dependent on my sister, like she would follow her around all the time and NEEDED to be with her most of the time, plus she never really liked going out, not being exposed to the "outside world" made her shy with other people I believe, the only people the cat would feel comfortable enough to be around was me and my sister, since she saw us on a daily basis, I believe it's just that she wasn't that exposed to other people when she was a kitten. Plus the fact that she became a very nervous cat. So I think you just have to slowly and patiently work with your cat, do not just force the cat to be around people/shapes/scents the cat doesn't know.

8

Most cats are happier if allowed to meet people one or two at a time, in quiet /calm surroundings, with a good escape route. I can't blame them; if I was that size I'd be cautious about the big apes too. Mine are slowly getting used to the fact that I host song circles occasionally; that or any other crowded/noisy event is a challenge for most cats.

Some cats are happier -- or at least less nervous -- if you explicitly introduce them to the new humans. If your cat is comfortable being carried, you might try holding the cat comfortably, cuddling a bit, then have the other person slowly reach out and let the cat sniff their fingers before offering a skritch or two. The fact that you're there to defend them but are permitting this contact, together with it being respectfully slow so the cat doesn't feel attacked, may work even for fairly shy cats; they may promptly run off when put down but will be more willing to approach that person later.

Outside of that introduction, letting the cat feel it has control makes a huge difference. I once moved a bit too suddenly in reaching toward a kitten and got the full arched-back bared-teeth hiss response. I immediately froze, leaving my hand where the kit could claw me if so inclined but not advancing further: "see, I'm not attacking you, and I trust you not to hurt me." Two seconds later the kit had accepted I was harmless and was enthusiastically scent-marking me.

Note that these techniques work with most small or shy animals, including humans in those categories. Keep it quiet, don't chase, don't rush, don't crowd.

They also work when adopting a new animal into your household; my cats spent most of their first month here under the guest bed with occasional forays to check out the house and/of me, and that was OK; I knew I'd win them over eventually.

3

In nature, a large animal the size of a human entering the territory of a cat is "Something That Can KILL ME". So the cat reacts naturally - it hides to avoid the notice of the new thing. If that works, it might use cat sneaking powers to get a peek at the new thing without danger - often from a high vantage point. If things seem alright after that, it will then sometimes with caution come out and meet the new person.

You ignoring the cat lets him move through this process - running in and forcing the issue might set things back.

It isn't just people this happens with - to a lesser extent a big box being opened leads to a similar chain of events, possibly faster since the box doesn't make noise and move about. Also a sudden noise can do the same thing.

The less high strung and confident a cat is the more it reacts. I turned on my TV with a football game yesterday for the first time in months. One cat was under the bed the entire time, one watched from the balcony above, and one could care less and napped.

1

My two cats have been doing the same. They are sisters and have lived with me all their life. I seldom have visitors, so the cats are not used to other people than me. It has gotten better as I have had visits slightly more often.

The cats are just anxious about people they don't know, nothing worse. It will get better over time, granted they can hide when they want to.

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