Cats are full of surprises. Our beloved and enchanting friends are cute, graceful and mysterious. However, sometimes it just gets weird. Figuring out what’s inside the cat’s mind still puzzles cat parents and scientists alike. Have you ever bought a perfect, colorful, textured, and interactive toy, only to find out that your furry and finicky companion has noticed something far more interesting – the box! We still don’t fully understand why cats love boxes, but this ball of yarn is unraveling.
One of the reasons why we love cats is the fact that they have so unique and different personalities. Whatever you learn about your cat might not apply to other cats at all. This is also the reason why it’s difficult to conduct research about cat behavior. And they are not really eager to participate in human’s silly experiments. On the other hand, almost all cats love boxes. They use boxes to hide, lurk, sleep or just to play, bat, and chew on it. It’s baffling, isn’t it? Boxes don’t resemble pray or actually anything that cats faced in the wild during their evolution. So, where does this weird love affair comes from? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Cats Like to Hide
Veterinarians, biologists, and other scientists are trying to shed more light on cat behavior. “If it fits, I sits” is my favorite answer to box puzzle, but it’s probably not the right one. Cats in the wild were predators for around 3 million years. But not the large ones, though. Because of that, they developed hiding skills. Hiding is a great technique to stalk and ambush prey. It is also useful to stay out of the sight of larger and dangerous predators.
Our house cats don’t need to hunt for food, but they have kept all of their instincts. When they play, they mimic hunting. Now things start to fit together. Boxes are great places to hide. Your Fluffy can snuggle in and observe the surroundings. It’s a safe retreat and ambush hideout at the same time.
Of course, this is just the first piece of the puzzle.
Cats Like Confined Spaces
Maybe it sounds odd, but cats like enclosed and confined spaces. These spaces provide comfort and security for our feline companions. So, cats like all kinds of enclosed spaces such as laundry baskets, backpacks, shoe boxes or something like that. It doesn’t matter how much our cats love us, they still need space of their own.
A box is a great place to move away from everyone and relax. No one can sneak up from behind, so your Fluffy can rest while still seeing if anyone or anything approaches. Mr. Snuggles can jump out of it to grab a toy or he can just groom himself and take a nap.
Also, cats aren’t very good at conflict resolution. Instead of trying to work things out, they tend to avoid the problem or to stay away from it. In this plot, a box is a safe spot and place to retreat to avoid conflicts. This behavior is closely tied to their instincts. Cats in the wild would retreat to dens or treetops, while your house cat would find safety and comfort in a box.
This is closely related to the aforementioned reasons. Boxes can provide great help for cats to cope with stress. The University of Utrecht conducted a study on cats at the local animal shelter. They divided newly arrived cats into two groups with or without hiding boxes. They measured stress levels and the results were unmistakable. Every single cat that had a box recovered from stress in 3 to 4 days. For cats without boxes, it took 14 days to reach the same level of recovery.
So, if you plan to adopt a cat, it might be a good idea to provide a hiding box among other things. Especially, if you already have a cat(s).
It Is Cozy and Warm
What is the perfect room temperature for cats? There’s this thing called ‘thermoneutral zone’. It designates the ambient temperature that allows the resting body to maintain its temperature without generating or spending energy to keep warm or cool down.
Well, the optimal room temperature for house cats is around 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the perfect temperature for humans! A box comes to the rescue, once again. Your furry friend can snuggle in, curl up and keep warm.
Cat’s love for boxes is not so mysterious after all. The reasons that I’ve talked about don’t cover the whole story, but I believe they help us to understand cat behavior a little bit better. And don’t forget about curiosity. Cats love to explore and they can be attracted by the smell, texture, shape or whatever their enigmatic minds make of it. Uncovering all of their secrets may be a ‘mission impossible’. But, each new piece of the puzzle will allow us to keep them happy and content.