All cat friends know it: domestic felines are unconditional fans of boxes, especially cardboard boxes, large or small—even too small for them. Hardly any toy catches their attention so much. This behavior, often very entertaining, has also been the subject of many successful videos on YouTube. But why do cats like to snuggle up in a box so much?
Scientists and feline experts explain this funny behavior for several reasons: cats like boxes for comfort and warmth, because they are hiding places to better attack their prey (like your legs!), and because they help to decrease their stress level.
Let’s see these interesting theories in more detail.
Boxes Reduce Stress for Our Felines
Claudia Vinke, a veterinarian at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, tried to explain this enigmatic behavior in a study conducted in an animal shelter. About 20 cats, newly arrived at the shelter, were separated into two groups. Boxes were provided to the first group, but not the second. Scientists then found that after several days, cats with access to the boxes were less stressed and accustomed more quickly to their new environment. Moreover, the boxes made them more willing to accept interaction with human beings.
Thus, the box would act as a “coping mechanism”, according to the researchers’ conclusions.
This could explain why cats routinely run into hiding when faced with a stressful situation. Their hiding place serves as an outlet.
Boxes Make Great Hiding Places to Prepare for a Vicious Attack
But what about when the cat is not stressed? The search for a confined space is an instinctive behavior for the cat. In nature, an enclosed space allows it to hide from predators and thus increases its chances of survival. But these enclosed spaces are also useful for ambushing prey. Indeed, we must not forget that cats are, above all, predators. A box offers them a place of refuge while allowing them to monitor their environment and their potential prey.
Boxes Offer Comfort, Warmth, and Safety
The attraction of cats to boxes can also be explained for reasons of comfort. Small, enclosed spaces retain the warmth that cats need. Indeed, to be comfortable, cats would need more heat than we do: their “comfort” temperature is between 86°F and 97°F. The cardboard that the boxes are made with (which retains heat) and their small size help cats retain body warmth.
Felines can also find some form of security in an enclosed space. This allows them to practice their favorite activity, sleeping (between 18 and 20 hours a day).
Ultimately, cats don’t just think of boxes as toys but also as shelter. Also, it seems that they need it for their well-being. A cardboard box thus constitutes, for your favorite companion, a warm, comfortable, and zen space from which he can face his hectic daily life!
So, as a word of advice, don’t throw away your boxes anymore: offer them to your kitty!
What is the reason why cats can devote such passion to a vulgar cardboard box? According to specialists in feline behavior, these objects offer a source of comfort, security, and warmth to our little companions. They also serve to reduce their stress and allow them to prepare ambushes for their sneak attacks. Also, they can stay quietly hidden in their box and watch everything that is happening around them. And if something interesting happens, they can come out of it at full speed.
However, although multiple studies have looked at feline behaviors in recent years, it remains difficult to really understand what’s going on in the minds of these enigmatic little creatures.
Featured Image Credit: Piqsels