Why do cats like going in the fridge?

why do cats like going in the fridge

All cats have their quirks and odd little habits. Some like to leap into any cardboard box you might happen to leave out. Others try to climb into plastic bags if you don’t stop them. Still, others sneak into the wardrobe if you forget to close the door; and some cats jump into the fridge whenever they catch you in the kitchen.

Why do cats like going in the fridge? They may associate the fridge with eating, especially if that’s where you keep the cat food. Cats also like small, enclosed spaces where they can hide. The interior of the fridge isn’t usually visible, which makes cats very curious about what’s inside.

You’ve arrived here because you have questions about your cat’s odd behavior.

  • Why does your cat like climbing into the fridge?
  • Why would a cat jump in the fridge even when you know she can’t be hungry?
  • Is it safe for your cat to be in the fridge?
  • Why do cats enjoy confined spaces so much?

In this article, we’ll explore the answers to these and other questions. To learn more, read on.

Why do cats like going in the fridge?

It’s not immediately obvious why a cat would want to climb into the fridge. For one thing, it’s a spot they’re likely to be chased out of in short order. For another, it can’t possibly be comfortable. The inside of a fridge is cold, obviously. It’s also hard and cramped in there.

One reason cats like going in the fridge is that the fridge is where you keep all that tasty food. A smart cat owner will store their wet cat food in the fridge to prevent it from spoiling once the can or package is open. Cats are smart; they will see where you put their cat food after you’ve given them their portion and will remember. They can usually smell the food too.

As well as cat food, your fridge also contains lots of forbidden treats. Cats often hanker after human food that they shouldn’t have, or should only have in moderation. Dairy foods such as milk, yogurt, butter or cream are particularly attractive to cats; unfortunately, they’re not very good for felines as they contain lactose. Adult cats are lactose intolerant and dairy products can make them very sick. Since they don’t understand this, they’ll try to consume those products anyway — even if it means raiding the fridge. Other human foods that cats should not have to include processed meats (which may contain onions, garlic or other ingredients that are toxic to cats), raw meat or fish (which can give your cat food poisoning) and foods with caffeine or alcohol.

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Cats also enjoy some of the fruits and vegetables that are kept in the fridge. While some of these, like onions, are very dangerous, others are perfectly safe and healthy. A cat is an obligate carnivore and doesn’t really need to eat fruit or vegetables. Small portions of safe fruit or vegetable foods can still be a healthy addition to your pet’s meat-based diet, though, as they contribute dietary fiber and fluid. Examples are cantaloupe melon, cucumber and ripe red tomatoes. Cats often enjoy these, cut into chunks or mashed into their wet food. Providing this kind of variety can help distract your pet and keep them from jumping into the fridge.

Cats and temperature

If the weather is warm, your cat may try to get into the fridge to avoid the heat. This is cause for concern since it shows that your cat is uncomfortable. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of overheating in cats. Especially in the case of long-haired animals, overheating can make your cat absolutely miserable. It can also have serious health consequences. Cats can develop heat exhaustion and heat stroke just like humans. Even if they don’t become so severely overheated that they develop symptoms, excessive and prolonged heat can quickly lead to dehydration. It’s a little-known fact that many cats are subject to chronic dehydration, which can worsen during the summer months. While not immediately harmful, this kind of mild but long-term dehydration can eventually cause UTIs and even kidney stones.

There are plenty of ways to help your cat stay cool. Set up a fan at floor level in a shady area so that your cat has a place to stay cool. A tiled bathroom or kitchen floor is ideal for this. You can help by trimming your cat’s long hair if she’d to get too hot. Gently rubbing her fur down with a damp (not wet) washcloth can be very refreshing too.

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Another way you can help your pet stay cool — other than allowing her to hide in the crisper drawer — is to make sure she has chilled food and drink. Chill your pet’s food by placing it in the fridge before you serve it and make sure that there is cool water on hand for your cat to drink. I’m a big fan of kitty drinking fountains: powered water dispensers that ensure your cat gets a crisp, cool stream of water whenever she’s thirsty. You can also mash ice chips and ice-water into your cat’s food. This makes the food cooler and helps lower her temperature; it also provides additional fluid.

The aforementioned melon and cucumber can help here, too. Because these foods are high in the fluid they can help reduce dehydration. A nice chunk of chilled melon can also lower your cat’s temperature and provide a welcome treat on a hot day. If your cat has plenty of ways to cool off, she’ll be less inclined to dive into the fridge.

Cats and snug spaces

Another possible reason for your cat’s obsession with the fridge is that it represents one of those enclosed spaces that cats find so enticing. Why do cats like getting into tight spots, such as a cardboard box or the inside of the fridge? It has to do with their territorial nature.

Cats like to know what’s going on around them but they also like to feel safe and secure from attacks. A space that provides shelter on several sides while also offering somewhere to peek out is ideal. Even though a domestic cat doesn’t face any threats from predators or dangerous rival cats, they still instinctively seek out places of safety with gaps they can peek out of. That’s why cats like boxes; it’s also one reason that some of them like the inside of a fridge with the door ajar.

If your cat is trying to hide in the fridge, it may be that she feels insecure and that she’s looking for a safe spot where she can duck out of sight. You can help here by ensuring that she has bolt-holes and hideouts to disappear into; even a cardboard box with a little bedding inside can make your cat happier.

A related possibility is that your cat is bored and needs somewhere to explore. Cats really need a rich, interesting environment with lots of places to hide, climb, jump and burrow into. If the only accessible spot is the fridge, they’ll jump in there. You can address this by providing a cat habitat, a cat tent or even a few boxes. This is especially important if you have an indoor kitty. The inside of the home is the safest place for your cat to be but they can get bored if you don’t make the environment “cat-friendly” and exciting to play in.

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How do I keep my cat out of the fridge?

If the cat tries to jump in the fridge when you open it, gently take her out and place her somewhere else. Some cats can actually manage to get the fridge open by themselves, which is a bigger problem. Not only do you waste energy and food that way but your cat could be at risk of being injured or trapped if the door swings shut. If the cat isn’t found in time, she could suffocate or develop hypothermia.

It may be possible to keep your cat out of the fridge by banning her from the kitchen (or whichever room the fridge is in). This may stop her from getting in the fridge — assuming, of course, that she can’t open the door. Some cats can learn to use door handles. If this is not possible you will need to look at securing the fridge itself.

In a modern fridge, the door should close firmly enough that a cat should not easily be able to open it. If the door seal is weak enough that a cat can get the door open, your fridge might be in need of repair or replacement. You can also stop the cat from opening your fridge by fitting a child-proof lock on the door. These are inexpensive and very easy to apply.

You should not try to deter your cat from getting into the fridge by punishing her. Cats can’t understand punishment; all they know is that someone bigger than they are is hurting them. They”re more likely to associate you with the punishment than they are to connect it with going in the fridge. Remove her if she gets inside and try to prevent it from happening again by keeping her out of the room or securing the fridge door.

Article by Barbara Read
Barbara read
Barbara Read is the heart and soul behind CatBeep.com. From her early love for cats to her current trio of feline companions, Barbara's experiences shape her site's tales and tips. While not a vet, her work with shelters offers a unique perspective on cat care and adoption.