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How to Get a Cat Out From Under a Car: 7 Quick & Helpful Tips

Cats are notoriously good at hiding. If you’ve owned a cat, or currently have a feline in your home, you may have lost track of them from time to time only to discover they’ve been in the strangest of places. This can be a bit scary for cat owners, but it is normal cat behavior. Cats need a place to go and chill out when things get hectic or they just want a bit of downtime.

Unfortunately, when cats are outdoors, certain hiding places aren’t ideal for their safety. One such place is underneath the car. Cars present a high level of danger when it comes to pets. If you’re unaware of a kitty underneath you can accidentally injure them or potentially kill them when you move. Kitties, especially strays, tend to climb into cars in hopes of warming themselves on the engines when the weather is cold outside. This can be extremely dangerous.

To protect your cat when they explore outdoors, and other kitties in the area, let’s learn a few tips on how to get a cat out from under a car when they are hiding. These tips will help you keep any cat that chooses your car as a hiding spot safe.

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The 7 Tips to Get a Cat Out From Under a Car

1.  Call the Kitty

More often than not, a simple call from you will convince your kitty to come out from under the car. However, if something has scared your cat or you’re dealing with a stray, this may not be that easy. Try to show your cat, or the cat in question, that you are not a threat. Speak to them in a calm voice, don’t get upset if they don’t listen, and give them time to react. If calling doesn’t work, it’s time to move on to other methods.

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2. Cats Love Food

Food needs to be at the top of our list of ways to get cats out from under cars simply because cats love food. This method is especially helpful when dealing with strays. You never know when a stray cat has had a meal last. If you find one under your car, one of the quickest ways to coax them out is with food. Often they will rush out in hopes of having a nice snack. Unfortunately, if the cat is severely frightened, even food may not work.

When it comes to your pet cat, your well-fed kitty may not be hungry, but using special foods they like such as chicken or tuna will surely bring them running. You know your cat better than anyone. If you try the food as a way to convince them to leave their hiding place, make sure it’s a treat they can’t resist.

cat outside the car
Image Credit: Li Lin, Unsplash
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3. Catnip or Other Favorable Scents

Most cats love catnip. If you can’t seem to get a cat to leave the safety of the underside of your car, a little catnip could do the trick. Keep in mind, not every cat has the catnip gene so they may not react to it. If that’s the case, you can try other scents cats favor such as chamomile, blueberries, strawberries, or honeysuckle.

For situations where it’s your cat under the car, you can even bring their favorite blanket or their cat bed outside and leave it near the car to coax them out. Remember, when dealing with strays or feral cats, they may be fearful of you. Try to leave the smelly item near the car so they can catch the scent, but stay back enough not to provoke their fear.

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4. Use Toys to Activate the Cat’s Prey Drive

While we think it’s cute to watch a cat play with toy mice and feathers on sticks, in their mind, they are attacking prey. Yes, even domesticated cats have a prey drive like their ancestors. They simply do not get the chance to act on it as often.

If your kitty, or a neighborhood cat, is under the car, activating that prey drive may get them on the move. Use a lure-type toy that you can shake or wiggle. Let the kitty see the toy. Hopefully, this will entice them to watch the action. Once they are on target with the toy, slowly step back. Most cats will want to chase the wiggling toy in hopes of catching it. This need to attack may save the kitty from the dangers of being underneath the vehicle.

cat hunting in grass
Image Credit: SJ Duran, Shutterstock
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5. Herding the Cat

If other means of removing a cat from beneath the car aren’t working, you may have to herd it out. When doing this, you will need to physically get on the ground and use your arm, if the cat is close enough, and urge the cat to get moving. If they are too far under, you may need assistance from an item around the house. You’ll need something long enough to reach the cat but nothing that could hurt them. Lightly tap the kitty to herd them along. Be prepared, however. If the cat is frightened, it could attack your arm or the item you use to attempt the rescue.

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6. The Water Method

Most cats aren’t fans of water. They especially aren’t fans of water in spray bottles. When all other methods seem to be failing, grab yourself a clean spray bottle and fill it with water. Then go to the car and give the kitty a good spray on the behind. The sound of the water spraying, the water touching them, and a cat’s dislike for all things sudden will most likely get them rushing out from under the car.

Remember, however, never use any chemicals in the bottle or a bottle that has held chemicals as this could be dangerous to the kitty. All you want is clean, fresh water. Also, never spray the cat in the face. This could disorient it and make it unwilling to move or cause it to rush off into a more dangerous situation.

homeless kitten hiding under car wheel hood
Image Credit: savitskaya iryna, Shutterstock
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7. The Scare Tactic (A Last Resort)

If all else has failed and the cat is still under your car, it may be necessary to scare it out from under there. While there are several ways to do this, such as loud sounds and objects, the cat’s safety should be the most important thing. The last thing you want is for your cat, or any cat for that matter, to rush off into traffic when they run or get hurt in some other fashion.

If you decide to use this tactic, make sure all exits are closed to the cat so you can control where it comes out. You can place a crate at the exit point for stray cats, or perhaps have a family member waiting if it’s your pet. Once everything is in place and you are prepared for the cat to run out safely, make the noise. The best scenario is that this will make the cat rush out instantly. If not, you may need to repeat the sound. Unfortunately, being scared could be the reason the cat is under the car in the first place so please don’t go overboard and give the kitty more reasons to be stressed.

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As you can see, there are several tips you can implement to help get a cat out from under a car. Unfortunately, not all of these measures are ideal for the cat and can easily cause more stress. If you find your pet cat, or a stray cat, underneath your cat, start slowly. Try to coax the cat out using some of the methods mentioned above. If that doesn’t work, you may need to use more drastic measures to ensure the cat isn’t injured when the vehicle starts. As always, try to keep the situation as calm as possible so the already stressed kitty doesn’t suffer more emotional turmoil. The cat’s safety should always be the top priority.

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Featured Image Credit: czechphotos, Shutterstock