Friday, October 9, 2015

Why Do Cats Like Boxes So Much?

Cats like boxes. They like boxes quite a lot. In fact, they love any small, confined space. But why?

Genghis in his office cubicle (an office supply box).

Floor cleaning day, a rolled up area rug, and a cat. He loves hiding inside. 

The Case de Ghenghis, a tower made of two cardboard boxes taped together with holes cut out. Genghis is in the top box, Groucho in the bottom. 

Raz had a little better taste. He liked to curl up inside my wicker garden trug.

As you can see from these pictures, my cats love boxes of all types. Boxes, sinks, rolled up area rugs, garden baskets, you name it. The old saying, "If I fits, I sits!" applies to my cats. They've curled up in all sorts of uncomfortable-looking places (at least they look uncomfortable to me.)  What's going on with cats and boxes? Why do they love curling up in boxes so much?

I did a little Internet digging today and found three very interesting explanations for this box-loving behavior. Depending on the cat, one or more of these explanations applies.

  • Cats are cold: Kitties like it hot - very hot. They prefer temperatures in the 86 to 97 degrees F range. No, thank you. That's hot enough to melt me, so it's not happening around here. The average household temperature is 72 degrees F. The average temperature in my house is 65 degrees F thanks to 1) a husband who would live in the Arctic if he could 2) a dog who feels the same way and has the hair to prove it and 3) a parsimonious wife (me) who wants to keep energy usage down. No wonder my cats are all curling up - they're cold, and curling inside cardboard keeps them warm.

Well, that's one explanation, but not enough. I've seen my cats curl up inside window boxes on days when the temperatures are well into the 80s outside.

  • Hunting skills: Cats are ambush predators. They stalk their prey, then strike quickly for a kill. Have you ever seen one of those big spiders, the kind that scare the living daylights out of you, jump out of a hole in the ground or a funnel web to ambush an insect? Cats seem to like small spaces as little dens from which to potentially ambush their prey. In the wild, they might secret themselves between rocks as camouflage, or perhaps hide under a bush. In the wilds of my living room, it's a cardboard box or the little pouch behind the fabric of the recliner.

  • Security: Genghis is our most nervous cat. He's really a bit nuts, probably because he lived in the woods on his own too long. As a result, he rarely sits still anywhere in the house. But when he is in my office, he curls up in his 'cubicle', a small cardboard box, and feels secure. That's why we built the Casa de Ghenghis for him, the tower of cardboard boxes - to give him yet another security zone. He has a crinkle tube and a cloth play cube in the family room, too, which he uses all the time. Boxes and small space provide cats with a feeling of comfort and security. That's why when transporting your pet, it's useful to have a cat carrier. The small, confined space helps calm them down. I wouldn't like it, but apparently, cats do. Studies with shelter cats and laboratory animals demonstrate that boxes in large cages helped shelter cats feel more secure in a strange environment. It gives them places to hide from other cats and predators. I guess Genghis feels the need to hide all the time, poor cat!

So there you have it, three plausible explanations for why cats like boxes. Personally, I think they just love boxes to give us great photo opportunities. I mean, how cute is Maru hiding inside a Chinese take away box? Or kittens stuffing themselves into brandy snifters?

Cats! Six cats, and counting.....go hug your fur baby today!

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