For most cat owners, the one question that they cannot seem to have a clear answer for is why their cats love boxes. I mean sure, you could get your kitty very nice cat play toys but the little adorable creatures will still want to have a go at the cardboard boxes in the house.
A number of researchers, as well as cat enthusiasts, have tried to explain the reasons why cats cannot resist boxes. There had been a debate on social media, especially twitter over the same issue of cats and boxes.
This led to a few scientists taking interest in this cat behavior in an effort to try and explain the reasons behind it.
So, why do cats love boxes so much anyway? Here are a couple of reasons.
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Safety and Security
All animals have a way in which they respond to fear. For cats, boxes provide a sense of safety and security whenever they feel afraid. Confined spaces, like a box, would provide an immense sense of security. Most felines, domestic cats included, like to be very conscious of their environment. This makes them prefer locations where they feel more secure and out of sight from potential ‘preys’. A box is definitely a perfect hideout for these fellows and they cannot resist it. Boxes also make them calmer and even helps them to fit in a bit quicker in a new environment. Cats are primarily predators. And while domestic cats do not have to hunt, their primal instinct would be to use the box as a hiding space. Most times you will find them hiding in the box, pouncing out to get a toy and then getting back to their safe haven.
Boxes Give Them Pleasure and Reduce Stress
Well, this obviously a bit technical but very sensible. According to a panelist on Animal Planet’s “American Cutest Pets” series, domestic cats like to have very close contact with the box’s inner walls. He says, he believes the close contact releases endorphins which are more like morphine. These endorphins apparently are the cause of pleasure for cats. They also have a hand in alleviating stress for the cats. A Dutch ethnologist conducted a simple research to ascertain whether boxes actually had an impact at keeping the stress levels low for cats. She had two separate groups of cats. One group was exposed to boxes and the other group was not. After three days of keen observation, she realized that the cats that were exposed to boxes had significantly low stress levels in comparison to the other group. According to her study, it took about two more weeks for the other cats to achieve a similar level of stress.
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It Is Part of Their Behavioural Instincts
Naturally speaking, felines have a very strong drive towards hiding places. They are natural predators hence they still have that inner instinct to try and gain some strategic advantages over their prey. They want to hide. Not because they fear you, but because they sometimes want to have that advantage over everything and everyone else. This is just how they are built making it hard for them to resist perfect hideouts like boxes. Their predatory instincts drive them to enclosed areas where they get a sense of control. A box is one of the most strategic hideouts in a house for your cats to explore.
Have you met a lazy person? Certainly, you have. But trust me if you study how felines spend most of their daytime hours you will appreciate your lazy friends’ efforts. If you do not know. Felines generally are animals who do enjoy very long hours of sleep, especially during the day. Actually, in the jungle, most of these guys sleep more than half a day, with others hitting around 15-18 hours a day of sleep. Your cat is not any different. However active they may be, they often take long hour retreats to go and have some alone time. Their favorite places for this routine activity? That’s right you guessed it. Cats use these confined boxes as areas of rest which constitute most of their hours per day.
It Helps Them to Keep Warm
Who doesn’t like to keep warm? Exactly, no one. Well, neither do our cats. According to a post-doctoral cat researcher in 2014, a box or just an enclosed cage or confinement provides some impressive heat insulation to the cats. He argued that the boxes help the cats easily achieve their thermoneutral zone. This is the zone where the cats virtually do not spend any additional amount of energy to keep warm. Boxes come in handy because they help the cats retain a good amount of heat around their bodies making it extremely easy to get the thermoneutral zone.
All in all, domestic cats or even just cats in general, are very adventurous and curious in nature. They always want to unravel new things within their territories. Cats are very much aware of the whole setup of the house because that’s their territory. They will notice even the slightest of changes in setup and arrangements.
This is part of the reason why most cats get fascinated with new things introduced to the house. Their curiosity won’t let them assume, they will sniff, move and even try to play with these things. If it happens to provide a warm enclosed position, then it just earned itself a new chill spot.
Do not get angry when your cats are ignoring the fancy cat beds you spent a few bucks on and completely paying attention to the box it shipped with. You never know, maybe next time just try buying a box.
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- Jill Fanslau, Why Do Cats Like Boxes?, PetMD
- Dr. Patty Khuly, Why Does My Cat… Like to Sleep in Small Boxes and Tiny Spaces?, VetStreet