We all know how our cats love squeezing into boxes and other confined spaces that are smaller than themselves – but why exactly do they exhibit such strange behaviour? Here are five reasons that best explain this phenomenon.
1. Predatory Behaviour
This goes back to Puss' baser instincts, from when felines hunted animals for food. Providing shelter, boxes are a great location for cats to stalk their prey from. Who knows? The next time you see your cat lounging in a box, she may be ready to pounce on you from behind.
To Puss, a cardboard box is the best hiding place as it is there that they don’t feel threatened. Cats feel that they can't be snuck up on from behind or the side: Anyone or anything that wants to approach them must come directly into their field of vision. Thus, this ideal hiding spot allows them to watch the world go by without being disturbed.
3. Stress Removal
Research shows that cats find solace in a separate enclosure when they are caught in a stressful situation. Being in cardboard boxes can have a profound impact on both their behaviour and physiology.
Ethologist Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands studied the stress levels in shelter cats by providing hiding boxes for a group of newly arrived cats, and not giving any to another group of cats. Results showed that there was a significant improvement for the cats with the boxes – they got used to the new surroundings quicker and appeared far less stressed.
Puss may choose to retreat into her cardboard box when she wants to “escape” from you. Cats are not the biggest fans of cuddles and pets, and are more inclined to run away from and avoid any problems that they may encounter. As such, the box represents a zone where they are able to get away from unwanted attention and can simply disappear.
5. ...Because It's Comfortable
Finally, your feline friend may choose to get into a box simply because it is cosy. In fact, these cardboard boxes provide warmth as confined spaces force your cat to ball up, helping it preserve body heat.
The next time you see your cat getting into a cardboard box, let it do its thing. These inexpensive, readily-available boxes offer a multitude of benefits to your cat: comfort, warmth, and a sense of security.