Why Cats Can’t Resist Boxes!
20 April, 2017
Twitter was on fire last week with images of taped squares on the floor and watching their cats sit right inside the square. It’s no wonder. Cats like boxes whether they are real or imaginary with no sides. Clearly, not a coincidence. Science keeps telling us there is a reason why cats love boxes!
Cats love small spaces and feel secure in them
It’s just a fact of life that cats like to squeeze into small spaces where they feel much safer and more secure. Instead of being exposed to the clamor and possible danger of wide open spaces, cats prefer to huddle in smaller, more clearly delineated areas.
As kittens, they are used to snuggle with their mom and litter mates, feeling the warmth and soothing contact. The close contact with the box’s interior seems to release endorphins – nature’s own morphine-like substances – causing pleasure and reducing stress.
Cats are nesters and like to reside wherever they can fit
Cats are nesters and enjoy small, discrete areas where mother cats give birth and provide sanctuary for their kittens. Note that no behavior is entirely unique to any one particular sex, be they neutered or not. Small spaces are in cats’ behavioral repertoire and are generally good and sometimes you can find your cat in what looks to be the most uncomfortable position ever!
A virtual box can even substitute for the real thing
Or then again, the box may have no walls at all but simply be a representation of a box – say a taped-in square on the ground. This virtual box is not as good as the real thing but is at least a representation of what might be – if only there was a real square box to nestle in. This virtual box may provide some misplaced sense of security and psychosomatic comfort.
A study was done that demonstrated cats with boxes were less stressed!
The cats-in-boxes issue was put to the test by Dutch researchers who gave shelter cats boxes as retreats. According to the study, cats with boxes adapted to their new environment more quickly compared to a control group without boxes: The findings were that the cats with boxes were less stressed because they had a cardboard hidey-hole to hunker down in.
Giver your cat their boxes and let the fun begin!
Let this be a lesson to all cat people – cats need boxes or other vessels for environmental enrichment purposes. Without a real box, a square on the ground may be the next best thing for a cat, though it’s a poor substitute for the real thing. Whether a shoe box, shopping bag or a square on the ground, it probably gives a cat a sense of security that open space just can’t provide.
Cats also like bags too: Cats love to climb into bags
This article was originally published on The Conversation.