Cats are drawn to boxes like moths to a flame. Have you ever wondered why cats have such an affinity for cardboard spaces like shoeboxes, large boxes well any type of box really? And often the smaller the better too?
Scientists are still unsure as to exactly why cats find the enclosed cardboard box so irresistable but they have produced many theories as why cats seek out these odd places to have a nap or simply watch the world go by!
The most popular theory as to why cats adore boxes is that they offer cats security while they stalk their prey. It has also suggested that cats use boxes as protection from larger predators.
Most People agree that cats love to hide in boxes because the enlosed space makes them feel secure. In fact studies by a veterinarian, Claudia Vinke from the Utrecht University in the Netherlands showed that cats who came into catteries, be they rescue or commercial catteries, showed reduced levels of stress if they had boxes in their units. After just a few days, it was reported that the cats that were given boxes recovered faster and adapted to their environment more quickly than the cats without boxes. Proving that cats used the boxes as a coping mechanism in times of stress.
"All animals have different coping mechanisms," says Marilyn Krieger, a certified cat behaviour consultant. "This is a cat's way of dealing with stress. If she's feeling overwhelmed or in trouble, she can retreat to a safe, enclosed space where she can observe, but can't be seen."
Cats are rather prolific nappers and will spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping. Seeking out a hidden place to sleep in often increases their chances for survival in the wild.
Stephen Zawistowski the science advisor for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruely to Animals says that "Cats like boxes because they are cryptic animals; they like to hide. And a box gives them a place of Safety and security."
Yet another theory is that cats love boxes as they keep them warm. Cats as we all know love to be snuggly and warm. A cats body temeperature is between 37.7 - 39.1°C which is higher than a human. Cats are most comfortable in ambient temperatures of between 30 - 36°C but most of us set our thermostat to around 21°C. Cats clearly have a much lower tolerance to cooler enviromnmental temperatures compared to humans and small spaces are ideal insulators against the cold. This explaines why cats prefer to try and squish into smaller spaces like shoeboxes or other small spaces like vases and even kettles.