November 7, 2014 7:28 PM   Subscribe

I am watching my co-worker's cat because she had to move to a place where you can''t have cats. We can't find the cat and I am afraid she escaped from the house. However no one saw her run out of the door and no doors were left open. We have a resident cat who likes to run out of the house so we are extra careful when we leave. I think the cat might be hiding but my boyfriend thinks that is unlikely because he looked for her ALL day. Have you ever lost a cat inside your house?
posted by OsoMeaty to Pets & Animals (126 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. He was under a pile of blankets. Also, one time another one was under the bed. We LOOKED under the bed, but she'd managed to blend in with a canvas bag that we had stored under there or something.
posted by small_ruminant at 7:30 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Cats get nervous in new places and hide like champs. I'd be willing to bet that the cat is in the house. It will come out when it's comfortable.
posted by amro at 7:31 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have. He had crawled around behind the back of a cabinet and down into the space between the bottom shelf and the floor.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:32 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yep, many times. Have you looked...

Up inside couches, chairs, beds, and other pieces of furniture
Inside speakers (if you happen to have the older kind that have holes in the back)
Inside cabinets
Inside washer/dryer
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:33 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't have a cat but aren't you supposed to turn out lights and take a flash photo?

Have you tried jingling keys on every floor?
posted by discopolo at 7:34 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes. Does that help?

Okay, okay, more detail. Which also won't help your situation.

I was once watching a friend's cat when there was some kind of plumbing disaster in the building, the carpet was soaked, and the landlord had to bring in these huge fans to dry it out. They piled all the furniture in each room into stacks with the smallest footprint possible - and it took me hours, literally, to find that cat in a stack of furniture three feet on a side in an otherwise completely empty room.

I was utterly convinced he had bailed when the door was open, and my friends would never forgive me. But he'd wormed in there and found a hidey hole, and wasn't coming out for anything. Poor guy...
posted by Naberius at 7:34 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I lost a cat for two and a half days after my house was burglarized. He was at the back of the top shelf of my closet. Don't panic yet.
posted by workerant at 7:34 PM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

Check inside your upholstered furniture.

Especially lift up any upholstered furniture you think is too close to the floor for a cat to get underneath, and check there.

If you have a box spring for your bed, take off the mattress, lift up the box spring and look inside it.
posted by kythuen at 7:35 PM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]

Could the cat have snuck into a closet and jumped onto a shelf in the closet? True story for what happened on my wedding day while a friend was house / cat sitting.
posted by ellerhodes at 7:37 PM on November 7, 2014

Under any kind of furniture. Look even if you think there's no way they could fit.

Behind the washer, dryer or stove. On top of the fridge.
posted by xsquared-1 at 7:39 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

I haven't tried it myself, but I've seen other people recommend heating up wet cat food (or canned tuna) in the microwave). The "delicious" (ugh, disgusting) scent might lure kitty out.

Also, I'm pretty sure I've read several ask mefi questions where the cat was indeed hiding in the house, so yeah, this is definitely a thing that happens, and I would bet it's more likely that the cat is hiding out in the house than that ninja kitty got outside without anyone noticing.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:39 PM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yes. She was in a box. A box that was mostly closed, that I didn't know she could squeeze into.
posted by orangejenny at 7:40 PM on November 7, 2014

Yep, I was stopping by a friend's house to feed her cats while she was on vacation, and I would always do a cat roll call before leaving again. Once I spent an hour trying to find the last cat, and I was 100% convinced it had snuck out the door. It turned out to be on a pile of stuff on a dining chair pushed under the dining room table, in a vertical gap that could not possibly have accommodated a cat.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:42 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

I once lost my kitten and found him tucked up asleep inside a blanket that had been folded up and draped over the back of the sofa. He was all cosy and hammocked up in there. We were frantic.
posted by corvine at 7:42 PM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Absolutely, until he got too fat to fit into the really good hiding spots. If she's been hiding all day, she may be ready to come out when it's quiet, so make it quiet as soon as you can. Turn off as many lights as you can, no music, no television. Open some food or treats if you can. The goal is to make her think that the coast is clear, and I imagine her first spot will be the litter box if she's truly been hiding all day.

He had crawled around behind the back of a cabinet and down into the space between the bottom shelf and the floor.

That's where mine went too.
posted by gladly at 7:54 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yes, when we moved. Finally found after a day of looking amongst moving boxes. We called & called, and this cat, who was not a quite cat, never said a word.
posted by achrise at 7:54 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, one week after moving in with my boyfriend (I remember thinking, "Oh God, how did I lose the CAT?!?!?!").

We have found that the best way to get the cats out of hiding is to open the food bucket and make noise with the kibble. The dummies fall for it every time. :-)
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:55 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

We lost a cat in a small two-bedroom bungalow recently. After a half-hour of increasingly frantic searching, we finally found her in the kitchen cabinet under the sink, around a corner so that she wasn't easily visible, curled up against the case of the nice warm dishwasher.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:57 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Places I have found my cat:
Those tiny cabinets above the fridge.
Any cabinet or drawer, even one you wouldn't think she'd fit in.
Inside the box spring.
Underneath and inside the couch.
A presumably empty suitcase.
A packed suitcase snuggled in out of season clothes (how she managed to unzip it juuust enough??)
Behind the fridge.
Behind the books on a high shelf.
Buried in a box of clothes with the flaps down.

Not my cat, but one was once found in duct work.

As a kid, a cat climbed into our attic and had kittens. One fell between two beams and into our paneled kitchen wall. He was fine, but earned the name Wally.

Hope you find kitty soon.
posted by MuChao at 7:57 PM on November 7, 2014 [16 favorites]

Once I lost three (young) cats in a hotel room. They had all crawled inside the box spring through a tiny hole in the fabric cover.
posted by pullayup at 7:58 PM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]

It's sometimes easier to turn all the lights off in a room and then search it top to bottom in every cupboard/box/box spring/sofa nether region with a flashlight. They will close their eyes, but usually not before giving you one angry reflective glare.

Also try opening a can.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:59 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

We had one get up inside the back of a sleeper-sofa once.
posted by Westringia F. at 8:01 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yep. Cats are masters of this.

One time the white cat was sleeping on a giant white teddy bear (which he was never known to do before, or after) and just blended in conpletely.

Another cat was hiding under the old la-z-boy, which could have been bad for kitty if someone had decided to sit on the chair.
posted by methroach at 8:01 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've had one climb under my dresser, up inside the back of it, and then curl up inside one of the closed drawers, so yes it's probably still there somewhere.
posted by Gneisskate at 8:04 PM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]

Oh yes! We had the up inside the boxspring trick once too.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:04 PM on November 7, 2014

Inside the hollow pedestal of the bathroom sink.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:10 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

My parents were at my tiny apartment one day and searched for one of my cats all afternoon. They were frantic, I was not so worried, because this was not unusual. I still dont know where she was that day, but she emerged when i brought out the laser pointer. Other places i've lost cats for ridiculous amounts of time include behind the fridge, behind the washing machine, in closed cupboards (both kitchen and bath), sleeping on the highest shelves of closets, on top of kitchen cupboards out of sight, of course under beds, in dresser drawers, behind books on bookshelves, in random boxes, in a closed suitcase, and i'm sure there's more. Cats are freakin' tiny when they want to be.
posted by cgg at 8:11 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yes. Multiple times with multiple cats, despite 6+ people searching.

Some of the favored *really good hiding spots* they've used:
- Not just under the recliner, but under and then climbed up inside it
- Same location on a couch
- On top of books that are on a shelf, with perhaps 3" max space between the top of the books and the bottom of the shelf
- Underneath - and crammed clear in the back - under a dresser that is barely 2.5" off the floor.
- Between back of desk and wall, in about the same width dimension - I'd swear the cat couldn't fit in these places, but they do
- In dresser drawers that have been completely closed. Sometimes they can go under and climb up the back and end up in a drawer. It's lovely when they have kittens there.
- In the TV cabinet behind the DVD player and etc.
- In the back of the can cupboard.

We even had one that actually used to sit on TOP of one particular bedroom door - and nobody noticed til they swung the door hard enough for her to almost fall off. Cats are CRAZY, really good at being "invisible", and hide in ridiculous places.
posted by stormyteal at 8:12 PM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

My cat once hid in the space behind the drawer at the bottom of the oven. Like, inside the oven, crawled in from the back.
posted by ootandaboot at 8:12 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Previously and again. Don't feel bad, it happens to everyone with a cat eventually.

My crew likes to hide on the fireplace damper, in the box spring, inside an armchair and in the closet on top of the hung clothing on the side of the hangers facing the wall.
posted by jamaro at 8:13 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Omg, after moving we lost the cat only to discover that there was a small gap between the wall and the shower/tub fixture. I held my phone down there and snapped a picture. Saw a wee bit of cat ear in the picture. She came out when it was chill in the house.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 8:16 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

My cat once found a way inside our basement drop down ceiling and walked around. I had no idea he was in there until his fat cat ass came crashing down through a weak tile a few feet behind my desk. Then of course he looked at me all like "yeah hey bro, i meant to do that".
posted by Poldo at 8:16 PM on November 7, 2014 [30 favorites]

Inside a desk drawer, through the back. Three hours later, after combing the streets, she crawled out and gave the standard "what?" look.
posted by holgate at 8:21 PM on November 7, 2014

Can of Tuna will help! Open one!!

Yes. Neighbors lost the cat they were house sitting. I put up signs all over the neighborhood for them.

The cat was in a hidey spot in the bedroom. Came out the next day when we went to feed the second cat in the household.

Prolly just hiding. Good luck!!
posted by jbenben at 8:22 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

In the drop ceiling
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:25 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

My childhood cat Mercedes got his name from hiding INSIDE a car engine.

He had crawled up the tyre and somehow inside the engine and it took tiny child hands to eventually retrieve him from inside the engine block, black with grease.

Kibble and time.
posted by viggorlijah at 8:26 PM on November 7, 2014

Last time I lost my cat, it was because I had left a drawer in the built-in hutch open and she had gone in the drawer and then behind it. So that was kind of mind-blowing.
posted by maryr at 8:29 PM on November 7, 2014

Found one of our cats once under the bottommost drawer of a chest of drawers. Not in the drawer, but in the small space between the drawer's bottom and the floor.
posted by Janta at 8:30 PM on November 7, 2014

My friends cats use the duct work as a way to get past closed doors. You'd be amazed at how they can pry grates open and more amazed that they can close them afterwards.

If anyone has a good solution for this that does not involve screwing the grates to the wood floors (rental) they'd be very happy
posted by fshgrl at 8:36 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yep. My female cat is large - 12+ lbs and not overweight - and she can squeeze herself through gaps as small as 3-4". I've seen it.

Once found her brother in the empty enclosed crawl space over the kitchen cabinets (via the refridgerator). Also have found them in the top of the closet (NO IDEA how they get up there), in "closed" luggage, buried in blankets/clothes, garage rafters... etc.

Leave food out overnight and see if it disappears.
posted by jrobin276 at 8:42 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, when we moved into our current house one of our cats went missing for the entire second day. It turned out he had made himself a very cozy bed on top of some folded-up jeans in a shelf in my husband's closet. Nothing made him come out on his own - not even the smell of hot wet cat food. I eventually found him and dragged him out. He's fine.
posted by joan_holloway at 8:43 PM on November 7, 2014

Put a counted number (say 5) of cat kibbles on a plate overnight in each space you can firmly isolate from each other with closed doors. Seeing which plate is missing kibbles in the morning would help you narrow down where said cat is hiding or has access too.

My cat got into the subflooring once. I panicked. Visions of fire rescue, torn down walls, etc. My mother said: Shine a light near the hole and an open can of tuna. And don't you know it, a somewhat dusty, and none the worse for wear cat emerged in a few (very long feeling) hours. Cats are great at this!

Good luck with kitty woes!
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 8:43 PM on November 7, 2014 [9 favorites]

My roommate reports that her cats used to jump/slide down the laundry chute. The word "whee!" was used several times in her description.
posted by maryr at 8:44 PM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

Put out some wet food in a distinctive shape and some water. If the wet food pyramid or whatever is disturbed overnight-- assuming you have neither pranksters nor other pets-- that would be evidence that the cat was still there, which would at least be reassuring. You could also set up a webcam to record the food overnight as well as the cat's approach and clues to where it's hiding.

I lost a pack of four foster kittens through a gap in the paneling behind the space under the sink. They popped out in a different location eventually. Had to get them to do it again so we could figure out how to patch it!
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:44 PM on November 7, 2014

When I first brought home Caliban Party Ghost, I lost him for over a day. I finally discovered him behind the toilet, where he had managed to somehow compress himself into a nonmoving 4" sphere shrouded in shadow.

My childhood cat also used to disappear into the drop ceiling for long periods of time. The cat may well be in the house!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:50 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Moving apartments I lost my cat and was convinced she had gotten outside while we were going in and out. We looked everywhere. I was beside myself. One last look around and my brother just happened to look up when he was exiting a closet - she had shimmied up the doorframe and was perched at the top of the doorframe. Who knew?! She also liked to tear holes in bed frames and make nests.
posted by backwords at 8:50 PM on November 7, 2014

Check inside your couches.
posted by bleep at 9:06 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I lived with my 20 pound cat, Mister, in an 18 foot motor home and lost him in that. Cats are masters at hiding in places you think they would never fit. I looked everywhere in that little motor home for hours then went crying to every business within walking distance and asked if they'd seen him (I'd stopped for lunch on a road trip). After searching every bush and business, or another hour, I tearfully returned to my motor home (remember, all 18 feet of it) and searched again. I found him under the bed on top of the water tank. I'd looked there twice before, but he blended so well and honestly, I couldn't figure out how he got there.

Don't give up hope. Cats are very good at not being found if they don't want to be found.
posted by patheral at 9:08 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is the cat that can squeeze through a 3" gap. I'm holding her, I'm 5'9" fwiw. She's in no way small... I was stunned.
posted by jrobin276 at 9:08 PM on November 7, 2014


- One cat hid in a kitchen cabinet for like 2 days
- A different cat hid in the top shelf of my closet
- My houserabbit would go missing for hours at a time and it was always this huge mystery. Turns out he had poked a hole in the liner underneath an ottoman and made a very cozy hammock under there!
- My great-grandmother used to find cats in the oven.

I'd put out kibble or tuna and see if the little guy goes for it when you're not looking.
posted by mochapickle at 9:13 PM on November 7, 2014

Yep. Lost one behind the refrigerator. That three inch gap between it and the wall? She not only got herself back there, but manged to turn around so that eventually her utterly unconcerned little face was looking back out at us. Lost the second inside a kitchen cabinet with the pots and pans. Eventually alerted by meowing. Lost the third inside the linen closet which I opened for maybe at total of 30 seconds that morning. Found her when I got home from work comfortably napping on the towels.

They're sneaky little bastards.
posted by MsMolly at 9:18 PM on November 7, 2014

Nthing looking for any tears in the box spring fabric. The underside of the box spring is my guy's favorite hideout; I figure it feels like a cozy little kitty hammock.
posted by ActionPopulated at 9:18 PM on November 7, 2014

I once lost a kitten in a studio apartment! It can be done! The cat as she got older became a MASTER. She was black so I often had to use a flashlight. Here are places I found her over the years:

Behind the washer.
Behind the dryer.
Behind the fridge.
Under the dirty clothes hamper
In the dirty clothes hamper, under dirty clothes.
In the clean clothes hamper, on top of clean clothes.
At the foot of the bed, completely underneath all the covers.
Under my pillow.
Inside my pillowcase.
Under my couch.
Under the cushions in the couch tucked into the corner.
Behind a bookcase, where she did not fit (and could not get out).
Behind the bathroom door.
ON TOP OF the bathroom door (LOOK UP!!)
On top of the fridge.
On top of the bookcase.
On the top shelf of the bookcase, behind some books.
Behind the toilet.
In the cupboard in the bathroom hiding behind the towels.
In the kitchen sink.
In the bathroom sink.
Inside the cat carrier.
Sleeping in the litter box.
Sleeping in the bathtub.
Inside the underside of the mattress boxspring thing (that cloth stuff comes right off and up the cat goes, in to snooze while lying on a 1-inch wide piece of wood or whatever).
Sitting on the corner of the bathtub behind the shower curtain.
Behind the stove.
Behind the water heater.
Underneath the giant finger painting picture from my Children's Art For Adults class, which was folded up in a corner.

When I left town and had a friend check on my cats, he spent 30 minutes examining my tiny studio apartment in detail and it took him the entire 30 minutes to find two kittens. If they are small, they really fit anywhere. If they are bigger adult cats, they can still fit anywhere but sometimes the tail sticks out.

A friend's cat would push push push on a door until eventually it popped open (very old house, rattling doors, etc.) and then hide in the room revealed, door to be blown shut by breeze. Cat can't be in there; door is closed. OPEN THE DOOR and look anyway.

Check any kind of cloth you find - pick it up and shake it. There may be a cat in there.

If she did escape, most pet detectives will tell you to get a humane trap and familiar food right away and set it up literally right outside your door. According to the pet detective books I've read, cats generally will hide very close to home but won't make a sound. See this page for some classic lost/escaped cat behavior.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 9:27 PM on November 7, 2014 [9 favorites]

Also, if there is a fireplace, check it. I was house-sitting and had my cats with me and the master hider hid in the fireplace under the grate. It was dark, so we did not see her. I had 2 people helping me look.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 9:32 PM on November 7, 2014

A friend had a tiny access panel to the plumbing fixtures in her apt, and the cat used that to get under the floor! For 20 hours. Check any tiny holes or panels into the walls, no matter how unlikely. Hope you find the cat.
posted by TheAdamist at 9:35 PM on November 7, 2014

Oh yeah, one of these reminded me... on top of the fridge, but underneath the cabinets, smushed in that little space between. On top of drapery rods. On top of pulled-up fabric (not plastic) blinds.
posted by stormyteal at 9:37 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

What colour is the cat? Is it a chameleon kitty? We had a black cat neighbour who used to politely drop in for a daily visit - she'd meow until someone opened the door, she'd eyeball the pet rat cage, greet every human, check out every room in case something had changed (like the rat cage door had been left open perhaps), and then meow at the door when she was ready to leave.

Then one day this very black cat decided to sleep on our very black lounge/sofa. We didn't even realise she was there until she yawned and suddenly a tiny pink mouth and white teeth appeared on the lounge.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 9:50 PM on November 7, 2014 [16 favorites]

I have had cats hide in the most insane places.

When I first moved into a house I lost my boy cat and searched everywhere then had to go to work. When I got home, my girl cat was gone too. Hours of searching later I found them in the very, very back of my roommate's closet. Only a flashlight illuminated their eyes.

The cat is in the house.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:55 PM on November 7, 2014

Yep, once underneath the dishwasher through a 3x3" gap we didn't even know was there between the dishwasher kick plate and the cabinet beside it. Another time behind the backs of a vertical set of (shut) kitchen drawers. No idea how he got in there; we had to take the drawers out to get him out.

I understand the big panic is knowing if she's inside or outside the house, and that's a tough one. Most likely inside though, and she'll come out or make noise when she's ready. It could be a day or more.
posted by ctmf at 9:59 PM on November 7, 2014

The kitty from which I have my metafilter name likes to hide in drop ceilings. Don't ask how she gets up there - her other name is parkour kitty.

Cats are wily. Full stop.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 10:04 PM on November 7, 2014

We once lost a HUGE -- 20 pound! -- cat for three days after an earthquake. He eventually came crawling out from under the sofa, which had like a 3 inch clearance, tops. Still have NO IDEA how the hell he fit in there. Maybe the quake shook him in.

Another cat used to hide behind the dryer. Your cat is definitely around somewhere!
posted by Countess Sandwich at 10:07 PM on November 7, 2014

My cats mostly prefer to get up high when they're out of sorts and want to hide -- on top of the refrigerator, on top of the kitchen cabinets, bookshelf, CD shelf, etc. They've also done the inside the box spring trick. One prefers to hide behind the propped-open door of my office, between the door and the wall. Behind the computer is a good hiding place too.

If you do find her and she's just hiding, don't try to coax her out. Let her have some alone time. Make sure her food and water are nearby, and she'll venture out at night when she thinks she's alone.
posted by stennieville at 10:28 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Behind the kitchen counter in some kind of gap between it and the wall and the floor that I had no idea was there. And then up to under the sink through some unknown other gap.

Also, I think, inside an upright piano (without making any noise apparently).

This same kitten came into our lifes by hitching a ride somewhere up inside the suspension of a car, so is named after the tire on which she was discovered.

Cats can go anywhere their head will fit, if they want to.
posted by joeyh at 10:49 PM on November 7, 2014

Our indoor only cat managed to sneak into the crawl space of our pier and beam house. Three days later, he was standing in the kitchen all nonchalant like nothing ever happened.
posted by tamitang at 11:12 PM on November 7, 2014

One of my childhood cats disappeared during the bustle of moving day. We eventually located him inside the tub. As in, it was one of those one-piece, built-in-to-the-wall kinds, and he'd accessed the hollow space inside it via a tiny plumbing access hole in the kitchen. Which was itself behind the fridge.

More recently, a girlfriend's cat was staying with me while she was traveling. He vanished into my studio apartment (main room, hallway, bathroom, kitchen, and a decently-sized closet). He eventually revealed himself to be in the closet, after the better part of a day. The closet, mind you, that I'd torn apart and searched thoroughly several times over. I'd even tried rustling his container of "special" kibble, with no luck.

When they wanna be gone, they're gone.

Sometimes, the temptation of food will bring them out of hiding (I'm pretty sure that's how we got cat #1 to emerge from the anti-tub), but there's no guarantee... In any case, I bet your friend's cat is almost certainly hiding out inside, and won't emerge until she feels a bit more comfy.
posted by credible hulk at 11:15 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

One of my cats had managed to get under the kitchen cabinets - a big old fat tabby girl had squeezed under a board with what felt more like two inches of clearance than three. Having only begun to move, it was the only place for her to hide, but I was still rather impressed.
posted by wotsac at 11:48 PM on November 7, 2014

I feel for the OP, but the responses to this question are hilarious.

When I worked for a vet, our clients would often find their cats disappeared when the cat carrier or medicine bottle came out. They always reemerged when they got hungry, so don't worry. Do check inside washing machines, ovens, etc., before using them.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 11:51 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is very typical. Put out some really smelly cat food or tuna and wait for her to emerge.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:52 PM on November 7, 2014

We adopted a new cat about 8 weeks ago, while he was still new to the place and a bit nervous and maybe able to smell our previous cat and wanting to figure out the territory he would (a) run all around the house and (b) crawl into every little space he could find. So into drawers left open, forcing his way into wardrobes, round and under the bathtub, he was a devil for finding his way under kitchen units and coming out hours later covered in cobwebs. He will still crawl into a shopping or laundry bag left on the floor and make himself look small.
posted by biffa at 11:58 PM on November 7, 2014

A bunch of years ago, one of my roommates at the time inherited her friend's cats. Friend moved to a no-pets place, same old story.
One disappeared, and we assumed she was gone for at least a month.
Eventually, she turned up while we were outside on the porch. She had been living under the neighbors' porch steps the entire time. She was totally fine.
So, even if the cat did get out, she may not have gone far.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:47 AM on November 8, 2014

Keep in mind that a cat pretty much just has to get it's head through somewhere, the rest is squashy and will follow regardless of size. Also, cats actively like to be in small, tight spaces particularly when they feel threatened or stressed. So yeah, cats being lost in the house is absolutely a thing.

I have had my cat whisk past my legs out the door without me seeing once or twice so they can be escape artists too, but that was a confident cat in her own home being wilfully naughty. I think that for a stressed cat in a new environment hiding inside the house is way more likely.

For my current cat hiding story: in my spare room there is a mattress on its side, on top there is stuff, on top there is an empty suitcase, then on top of that right up by the roof, there is Juniper. Took my husband a couple of hours of on and off looking to find her up there and he had to stand on a chair to see her.
posted by shelleycat at 12:49 AM on November 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

Inside of a couch that had been carried outside in preparation for someone from Craigslist to come take it away the following morning, and then carried back inside several hours later when it was decided that the cat couldn't possibly be anywhere else. That's up and down a couple flights of stairs, with several hours at the end of the driveway in between.

Same cat got sealed into the wall THREE times while repairs were being done to the pipes under the sink involving opening and then patching a hole.

Also, (still the same cat) at least once in a high cupboard with a bunch of wine glasses and the door closed.

Dumb cat.
posted by justjess at 1:55 AM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

When they were small enough to do so my kittens would climb up into some furniture and get into a drawer from the back. I don't think they were really even deliberately hiding, they were just finding somewhere to curl up and take a nap.

For a while I was mystified where they could have gone (all my exits have two doors with a vestibule in between - a cat airlock, so I was pretty confident they hadn't gotten outside), but once I figured out where they were, it was pretty great. I could just open the drawer and find some kittens!

It made me feel very well organized.
posted by aubilenon at 2:09 AM on November 8, 2014 [30 favorites]

I had one run up the chimney and hide at the very top of it.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:11 AM on November 8, 2014

Chiming in to say that we've had our cats for years and they still occasionally convince us that they've escaped outside even though they're just sleeping in an unconventional place.

The most recent time was when one of them decided to curl up inside a tiny basket high up on a shelf, out of our line of sight. So...check any baskets high up on shelves?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:54 AM on November 8, 2014

On moving day (to another country) the cat burrowed so deep in a pile of clothing we almost cancelled the flights that night to search the neighborhood for her. A good hour of time was lost as we searched for her in the apartment, building, neighborhood, and moving van.
posted by tip120 at 4:30 AM on November 8, 2014

Inside clothes drawers, way to the back. More than once I have lost my cat, only to find her curled up in my underwear drawer. One time I looked in a drawer and closed it tightly when I saw she wasn't there. Hours later, I heard rustling while I was trying to sleep, and finally I located her. She had been way in the back. Now I swipe my hand into the drawer to see if I can feel her there.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:32 AM on November 8, 2014

I have an 18" square pillow with a tied-on cover. White pillow, white cover. A nearly-full-grown black kitten worked her way inside the cover and around to the other side of the pillow.

We have a desk with a vertical support running side to side along the whole width of the desk, with another horizontal support under that -- essentially a hidden back shelf. Cats love to hide there, but we never think of it.

I've also found them on top of medicine cabinets and, of course, the refrigerator. This seems kind of obvious, but you don't think to look there until you already know that's a place the cat likes to go. Plus, it's so high! How do they get up there?

**** Mentally divide the house into sectors, into rooms, into quadrants, into square feet. Check each square foot in sequence, keeping doors closed so there's minimal chance for the cat to run from one hiding place into another. Use your visual imagination to mentally "see" what parts you've already visited (mentally grayed out) and what parts you haven't visited (mentally blank/unknown).

Good luck!
posted by amtho at 4:46 AM on November 8, 2014

Assume the cat is a liquid. Look for anywhere a quart of liquid could fit.
posted by amtho at 4:48 AM on November 8, 2014 [67 favorites]

Assume the cat is a liquid. Look for anywhere a quart of liquid could fit.

Seriously, there's a reason Ceiling Cat is a thing. Because, they can, and do, get themselves into anywhere, no matter how improbably it might seem.

Our guy is not a tiny cat, yet he manages to make himself vanish for hours almost every day.

Open a can of tuna, and leave it out. Even the sound of the can opening might coax the little guy out of hiding. If not, the smell almost certainly will eventually, especially as he gets hungry.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:17 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Kitchen base cabinets at the corner, contractors frequently fail to join the toe kick plates together, leaving about a 3-4 inch gap, which opens up into a 2ft by 2ft cave. I lost my cat to that gap in three different homes. First place I think to check now. I have a picture of my cat's head finally peeking out of the gap around here somewhere...
posted by Jazz Hands at 5:36 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

My cat's hiding places include inside the dishwasher, inside a wardrobe that he opened himself, in the ducts leading to our furnace (he squeezed between the fridge and the wall and pushed the loose vent plate open enough to crawl into the ducts) and inside a box spring. Those are just the places I know about. I'm sure he has more.
posted by Majorita at 5:46 AM on November 8, 2014

If this were a problem we'd be finding cat skeletons all over the house. Assuming he did not get out, just open all closet and or cabinet doors, fill the bowl with fresh food and wait.
posted by Gungho at 5:46 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Location of my lost cat (2 days): inside the fridge. Not where the food is stored, but up inside the back where the machinery is.

Advice: do put out a bowl of food or two. Then just chill. Don't look for the cat or call its name. Go about your daily business without making too much noise. The cat will eventually feel calmer and safer and come out of its own accord.
posted by googly at 5:48 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sitting on the corner of the bathtub behind the shower curtain.

And if you have an inner liner and an outer curtain, look between them. My cat sits there on the edge of the tub all the time and you'd never notice unless you were specifically looking.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:34 AM on November 8, 2014

My apartment has a small fridge which is built into the wooden cabinets of our kitchen. There's a tiny gap between the top of the cabinet and the top of the fridge. On her second day here, we looked everywhere, including the damn oven (half-jokingly, by that point?) and then we found her in the gap, which she'd wriggled into through a hole. Stayed in there all day, an uneaten treat sitting in front of her.
posted by thesmallmachine at 7:38 AM on November 8, 2014

Cats totally know when youre frantically searching for them and will deliberately hide. Brats. Mine hid under a glass top table, jamming herself under a quarter inch of magazine just well enough so we couldn't see her.
posted by Jacen at 7:56 AM on November 8, 2014

I'm now weirdly obsessed with the location of OP's coworker's cat. I do hope there's an update!
posted by kythuen at 7:58 AM on November 8, 2014 [10 favorites]

After moving apartments, my brother's scaredy cats went into hiding. He eventually found them when he heard meowing sounds from the range hood. He had to disassemble the kitchen cupboards again to get them out.
posted by Skybly at 8:00 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I similarly hope for an update soon!

We've had our cat for three years and she still has a hiding place somewhere in the house that we don't know about. I assume it's a portal to another dimension.

What works on my cat: closing myself in the bathroom. Unacceptable, by feline standards, and I will soon have a paw clawing under the door. Also, shaking a jar of cat treats. But she lives here and is comfortable in the house, so my advice for you would be a) don't panic yet and b) open up some smelly cat food and leave it out in various places. Check once in a while to see if any has been eaten and from where.
posted by lydhre at 8:25 AM on November 8, 2014

My cat used to be able to hide himself in the 2" gap behind the baseboard of our kitchen cabinets.

He could somehow refasten the board from the inside so you couldn't even tell it had been moved. Creepy little fucker used to then dart out at anyone stupid enough to be in the kitchen in the middle of the night.

Basically - check inside anything which looks closed.
posted by citands at 8:27 AM on November 8, 2014

I lost a cat in an RV. There was a platform bed and a bedskirt, and he was hiding between the two, and when I would lift up the bedskirt he'd run around the corner of the bed.

Another time, we lived in a large house and he climbed through a hole in the floor of a closet and got stuck in a crawlspace. We had to tear open part of the basement ceiling to get him out. (He was yowling, else we would have let him come out on his own.)

Please update - did you find it?
posted by desjardins at 8:34 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh - and a different cat used to open dresser drawers that slid closed on their own. So check all the drawers even if they're closed.
posted by desjardins at 8:36 AM on November 8, 2014

No question, yes. Two things flush her out - opening all the closet doors (and sometimes cabinets too - she likes small places) and opening a can of wet food LOUDLY, walking through the house making the opening sound with the lid and then putting the food out somewhere obvious. If the cat did run out of the house, they typically do not go far (could be just under your porch or a car nearby), so you can try the wet food trick outside too.
posted by Toddles at 9:05 AM on November 8, 2014

My mom recently lost two very shy scaredy cats in her house. It turned out they'd found a hole in the wall of one of the bathrooms (renovations have been going on, we don't have a randomly hole-y house or anything) and just decided to, like, live in the wall forever.

Finding them involved setting up webcams and strategically placing litterboxes and canned tuna around the house. It took a harrowing week just to find them and even longer for them to feel comfortable enough to move out full time. They love my mom now!
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:18 AM on November 8, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for all the rapid and numerous responses.

No sign of the cat. Her real mom says she is known to hide. Complicating factor: our house has 4 floors, 2 dogs and 2 other cats so we can't leave food out because all the other creatures will eat it. The 2 resident cats are not hiders. They are painfully unhide-y at times.

We are going to resume searching and do food offerings outside.

I feel extra terrible because my friend is pregnant and has a lot going on in her life right now and instead of helping I lost her cat.
posted by OsoMeaty at 9:22 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

No, no, you didn't lose her cat. The cat is chilling somewhere out of sight because it is a cat and cat's are ridiculous balls of independence and consternation. Kitty will turn up.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:34 AM on November 8, 2014 [11 favorites]

You are helping. The cat could be hiding in your friend's new apartment instead; now, you are doing all the work of looking for her. Friend has her baby to focus on.
posted by amtho at 9:39 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Well, no wonder hiding cat is hiding if there are so many other pets in the house. Can you temporarily keep the others in one room while you shake treats for the hiding cat? Or put dogs in one bathroom, cats in another? (After you've thoroughly searched the bathroom, obviously.)
posted by desjardins at 10:06 AM on November 8, 2014

Can you go through the house systematically? Make sure all other pets are out of a room, place delicious, stinky food in room and close door. And keep doing this room by room? I agree with others that she's likely in the house. My cat used to crawl up inside the back of the couch and just chill there for ages.
posted by sadtomato at 10:08 AM on November 8, 2014

Oh yeah, it's all those other animals. Box them up, tie them in the yard, or confine them to a room. Then do the tuna thing and give it a while.
posted by spitbull at 10:11 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

A note on the tuna thing. Ask your hidden cat's owner if the cat even likes tuna, because it's not a given. My Mister won't touch the stuff, even if he's starving. See if your hidden cat has a favorite treat evah! and maybe that will coax her out.

And, honestly, don't feel guilty. The cat has hidden herself, you played no part in her being "lost". She'll come out when she's hungry or is feeling less jumpy. Keep an ear out for meows and I'm sure it will turn out okay.
posted by patheral at 10:21 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

If the cat has a favorite toy, you could try to tempt him with that as well. My cat immediately comes out of hiding whenever the Cat Toy Drawer is opened, especially if I start rummaging around and jingling his favorite toy.
posted by Carmelita Spats at 10:26 AM on November 8, 2014

I lost my cat for about 15 hours in my tiny apartment once. Turns out she was in a deep nest at the bottom of the linen closet. I had checked the closet three times, because I knew she liked to hide in there, but she had gotten so deeply snuggled down behind some folded quilts and blankets that even sticking my hand in and feeling around wasn't enough. (And you'd think being shut in there for so long would have made her at least more careful about napping there in the future, but noooo.)
posted by sarcasticah at 11:54 AM on November 8, 2014

Yeah cat is hiding. It'll come out when it wants to come out, probably when the house is really quiet and there's nobody (and especially no other animals) around.

If you can, I'd empty the house out for a night or so, make sure all the doors are open so the cat isn't stuck in a room, and then put some food out. This is not so much to find the cat (in fact it'll be better if you're not even around) but so the cat can come out, eat, use the box, etc. and then go back into its hiding place. Cats don't do well without food for more than a day or so.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:05 PM on November 8, 2014

Too late maybe, and maybe someone already suggested, but try cooking bacon. The smell may lure her out, plus (assuming you aren't veggie) yumm, bacon!
posted by pennypiper at 12:08 PM on November 8, 2014

I have found cats inside torn box springs, and after a fire in my apartment my little one put himself in a CD storage box in the back of my (big) closet and pulled the lid back over himself (!!). I thought he was gone forever since the fire dept had left all the doors open, and then i saw his eyes through the open box handles.

Finding cats that want to stay hidden is really tough!
posted by sweetkid at 12:45 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

...4 floors, 2 dogs and 2 other cats...

Those certainly are complicating factors. I assume LostCat was the lone pet in his former abode? He's probably freaked-out about the other animals. Hopefully your two cats are cool with the new face. My big guy absolutely refuses to share his home with another animal.

I would keep an eye on your two cats. There's every probability they know where LostCat is, and they may tend to hang out there from time to time. Your dogs might sniff LostCat out as well, so keep an eye on them, too.

Four floors, though. Wow.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:01 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yep, our boy somehow got under the bathroom sink - 3" of clearance max - when we first brought him home. Luckily we were right there when he did it, but I was totally freaked because I was sure he'd never be able to get back out. We put some food down to lure him out and he completely won us over when only his paw emerged to drag the bowl closer. He came out soon after. That boy loves his food.
posted by Wet Hen at 1:08 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Our cats are impervious to delicious stinky food. If it's not 1) round pellets or 2) a mouse they just won't eat it.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:12 PM on November 8, 2014

My cat once managed to pull open a drawer, crawled in the back of it and we closed it on him without noticing.
posted by fozzie_bear at 3:10 PM on November 8, 2014

Nthing that she's hiding. She's stressed and so she retreated, as all cats do.

To also nth the duct work, we once lost my big, sweet, dumb cat for over a day. Eventually we heard him meowing inside the walls and all thought we'd gone collectively nuts, until my stepfather pushed aside a dresser and we saw the cat staring up at us from inside the heating system (thankfully it was summer). Cat had gotten shut in a closet on the lowest floor, found a way into the duct work in there, and climbed up two stories while he waited for us to figure out where he was. Freakin' cat.

Oh, and current cat loves sleeping inside my box spring. He found it pretty easy to get in there when he was scratching around and - voop! - he disappeared. It's his man cave now because I can't really get at him (unless I want to tear the entire bed apart).

Good luck!
posted by AthenaPolias at 3:26 PM on November 8, 2014

My cat knocked out a patch that had been put in the wall after some recent plumbing repairs and ran around INSIDE THE WALLS for ages before we figured out where she was, and of course there was no way to get her out so we just had to wait for her to get bored and hungry.

My mother took care of my cat for a while when I was traveling in college and she called me at least three times in a panic because she couldn't find him for extended periods of time. I hope you find her, and try not to be too hard on yourself. They are wily little creatures. Occam's Razor says she is somewhere in that house.
posted by something something at 3:53 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I lost a guest cat in my one-bedroom apartment once for three days. My cat also got out once, and hid in the stairwell behind a potted plant for four hours. My sister's kitten was IN THE REFRIGERATOR for three hours once.

Also, mackerel works even better than tuna.
posted by OolooKitty at 4:34 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We found the cat in the basement ceiling! We brought her up to food/water/litter and the first thing she did was take a huge pee. We're going to limit her to a smaller area of the house. Our house is 114years old and their are a million places for her to get stuck. Yay!!!! Thank you for your support in my time of urgent cat need!
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:30 PM on November 8, 2014 [111 favorites]

posted by Stewriffic at 5:46 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

We found the cat in the basement ceiling!

ah yes. that sounds like a cat. Congrats!
posted by sweetkid at 6:15 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

So glad you found her! (Or, as the cat would say... so glad she allowed herself to be found!)
posted by stormyteal at 8:12 PM on November 8, 2014

Hurray! I'm pleased your cat has cooperated with being found!
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 8:48 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are we sure it wasn't a decoy cat that the hidden cat laid out to trick you
posted by Greg Nog at 8:51 PM on November 8, 2014 [18 favorites]

posted by Gray Skies at 9:14 PM on November 8, 2014

OsoMeaty: "We found the cat in the basement ceiling!"

I have never felt so much like I won a thread in my life!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:32 PM on November 8, 2014 [11 favorites]

For the other people who have no idea how their cat gets into the ceiling--my mum's cat does it by climbing up where a duct for the heating system enters the ceiling, there is a tiny gap between the duct and the drywall. (Yes, her name is Ninja...)

Top of the closet is reached by climbing up your clothes (especially any expensive or delicate items which you might own). On top of a curtain rod is the same way.

Much of the kitchen is accessible from the inside of built-in cabinets. Cat opens cabinet door just enough to squeeze in and the door swings shut behind them (or is absentmindedly closed by a human, since the cat is no longer visibly in the cabinet).
posted by anaelith at 4:25 AM on November 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

The day after I got my kitty, I lost her in my apartment. She didn't surface again for 2 days.
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 4:45 PM on November 9, 2014

Wonderful news!

This whole post needs to be linked in the MeFi FAQ re: Where to look for a lost kitty.
posted by mochapickle at 10:07 PM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love happy endings.
posted by brand-gnu at 8:01 AM on November 10, 2014

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