Cats love hiding in secluded places, even underneath cars. The shade, warmth, and being hidden makes it a perfect spot for cats to lounge in.
However, it can also be dangerous. When the car moves, the kitty might be run over.
Whether it’s a stray or your own pet, it’s essential to know how to get a cat out from under a car. This will save you and the feline from a tragic accident.
Why do cats hide under cars?
Cats often hide under cats to seek shelter. This happens a lot to strays, but it can also be the case if you locked your cat out of the house.
A recently shut car motor is warm, which is very comfortable for cold kitties.
The cat might also be hiding from a predator or person by hiding underneath a car.
This happens a lot in my car since there are many strays in our area. I made it a habit to honk, stomp my foot under the car, and bang the hood slightly to alert any cat hiding underneath.
But if these don’t work, I usually resort to the methods below.
Methods to get a cat out from under a car
Method #1: Lure the cat with food
One of the most effective ways to get a cat from under a car is to lure it with food. In my experience, this rarely fails when I’m dealing with strays.
Any smelly food like a small pinch of tuna, bacon, chicken, or cat food will surely attract a hungry cat.
Tempting the cat from under the car is safer, and it allows the cat to move of its own volition.
If the cat doesn’t want to come out while you hold the food, drop it on the ground and take a few steps back.
This will let the cat know that you mean no harm. Let the cat eat it and feed more to let it calm down (Please read here how to calm a hyper cat).
Once you can pet the cat, you can now wrap it in a blanket. This is usually done by rescue teams instead of chasing or reaching for the cat under the car forcibly.
If you just want to get the cat safe, lure it to a spot away from your car before you drive away.
Method #2: Use the cat’s sense of smell
If the cat doesn’t seem to yield to your tasty trick, you can exploit its keen of smell. Catnip is by far the most effective of all the smelly things I’ve tried. As long as the kitty has the ‘catnip gene’, this trick will not fail.
Other scents that work are honeysuckle, chamomile, blueberries and strawberries. If it’s your cat you’re getting from under a car, the familiar scent of its blanket will also work. Please read here can cat eat honeydew
Like with food, you can drop the smelly thing on the ground and let the cat approach it. Feral cats tend to be scared of humans, so approaching you might not be the reaction they have in mind.
However, you should know that the undercarriage of the car also has a strong smell. While the kitty could pick up the scent you’re holding, it may prefer to stick to the most familiar odor.
Method #3: Showing the way
If you’re dealing with your cat under the car, shepherdieng might work. This is done by establishing the path for your cat.
For example, if you want the cat to get into the crate from under the car, placing two planks side by side toward the entrance will encourage it to come closer. Learn more here how to discipline a cat
Your cat will become interested in the plank and sniff it. If the cat isn’t moving, you can move the planks in different directions until it catches the cat’s attention.
Sometimes, the cat will become playful and pounce on the planks.
Method #4. Trick with a toy
While domesticated cats are far from their wild cousins, they still bear a prey drive. You can get a cat from under the car by holding a toy and moving it as if to mimic a prey.
A toy mouse tied on a string always works for my cat Watson. He likes crawling under my car when he’s bored, so this trick always comes in handy for my entire family.
Keep dangling the toy until your cat pounces. Slowly move away from the car until you’ve led the cat from underneath.
If you don’t have a toy handy, you can use yourself as the target. Taunt the cat by moving provocatively.
Take a few steps backward and tease the cat by acting as if you’re going to pounce. This might work, and the cat will try to attack you.
Method #5. The water trick
If the cat isn’t moving despite your efforts, you can get a spray bottle with clean water. Spray the water on the cat’s rear, and it will surely run away.
Take note that you should spray it on the rear, not the face. Spraying on the face will disorient the cat, and it will even discourage them from moving.
Also, just spray water, don’t douche the cat with an entire pail. Lastly, never use chemicals, hot water, and anything that will hurt the kitty.
Method #6: Deploy the scare tactic
For cats that don’t seem to get tricked by both food scent, scare tactics are often the quickest alternative. I consider this as a last resort, regardless if it’s my cat Watson or a stray.
I don’t like scaring hiding cats because the fact that they are seeking refuge under my car is a sign that they are already distressed.
Stomping your feet fast can help drive away a cat. Starting the car also works, but again, I don’t recommend this because the cat may get confused.
Also, I have one caveat about using scare tactics. If your car is located near traffic, you shouldn’t use scare tactics. The kitty might run into the road and get killed. Learn here how fast can a cat run
What NOT to do when getting a cat out from under the car
Getting a cat from under a car isn’t easy. However, there are some common mistakes you need to avoid if you want to succeed. The following are some of them:
- Forcibly catching the cat. Let me tell you that forcibly reaching for the cat under the car is plain ridiculous. You’ll surely end up with scratches or bites. Some cats will also stand their ground and attack you instead of running away. Please read here why does my cat scratch the floor before drinking water
- Crawling under the car. Crawling under the car is almost similar to forcibly reaching for the cat. The difference is that it will put you in a very vulnerable position. If the cat decides to attack, you can’t escape easily.
- Poking the cat. Using a stick to poke the cat may work in some cases, but it will also scare the kitty. Brave cats will fight back and defend their territory instead of going away.
- Hurting the cat. Whatever method you use, never physically hurt the cat. There are many ways to get a feline to walk away from under your car, but violence isn’t one of them.
Where do cats hide in cars?
Aside from lounging underneath cars, cats can also hide within the car. The most favorite spot of felines is the car engine.
It’s warm, secluded, and the tight space makes the kitty feel safe. Aside from that, kittens can hide inside exhaust pipes.
If your car has a wide gap between the chassis and the tires, some cats will also perch on the top of the tires.
Take note that a cat hiding inside the engine or pipe can go unnoticed. Many cats die because of this, but some drivers are careful enough to check.
Some cats will also hop into their owners’ cars and only get detected a few miles away from home.
The space under the seat is a perfect hiding place for a sneaky cat who wants to join the road trip.
What can I do to keep a cat from getting in my car engine?
I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about cats dying in car engines. So to prevent it from happening to me, I use various deterrents.
I apply a cat deterrent spray on the undercarriage of my car. This prevents cats from hitching on the engine and going under the vehicle.
Aside from that, block any entryways the cat can use to get into your vehicle’s motor.
An alternative shelter will also discourage the cat from choosing your car as a refuge. You can put up a makeshift shelter nearby and put cat food in there.
Others recommend placing mothballs on the engine to drive cats away. I haven’t tried this, and I’m quite concerned about how it will affect the machine.
Knowing how to get a cat out from under a car is fairly easy. Food, scents, and toys will go a long way.
Just make sure that you won’t hurt the cat, no matter how frustrated you are. Scare tactics and spraying water should also be considered as the resorts.
Marco Vasquez is a passionate animal lover and writer with extensive experience in the pet care industry. He has worked with various pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and fish, and deeply understand their unique needs and behaviors. Marco’s love for animals has driven him to become an expert in pet health, nutrition, and behavior, and he is always eager to share his knowledge and insights with others. As a member of the Petcosset team, Marco brings his expertise to help pet owners make informed decisions about the well-being of their little friends. He enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with his pets in his free time.