It’s the rare cat that doesn’t love boxes. Even non-cat owners know about this phenomenon; if you haven’t seen a meme or Youtube video depicting cats playing in, curling up in, and generally taking charge of boxes of all shapes and sizes, you’ve probably been living in a cave.
Have you ever wondered why cats love boxes so much anyway?
Here at Pet Medical Center, Chatoak we believe in tackling life’s mysteries head on, which is why we’ve decided to delve into this particularly perplexing feline behavior. Although many have tried, so far no one has figured out definitively why the average cat seems compelled to cram him or herself into that three-sizes-too-small Amazon box sitting on your coffee table, while completely ignoring the $350 kitty condo you recently purchased and spent 3 days putting together.
Thankfully veterinarians and behavioral biologists have come up with a few compelling theories as to why our feline friends love, and possibly even need, boxes. Enjoy!
Any cat owner will tell you that cats love to hide. Even the friendliest cat is by nature a loner, and probably spends a significant amount of time curled up in an out of the way spot in your home. Hiding is a normal response in cats to stress and conflict, and cats in the wild will retreat to treetops or caves to escape a negative situation. Since you probably don’t have any tall trees or rocky outcrops in your home, your cat chooses the next best place to chill out: a box.
This one is probably obvious to any cat owner who has ever casually walked by a box only to be startled as your cat’s paw and foreleg shoots out of the box and takes a swipe at your leg. Because cats utilize the element of surprise when attacking their prey, it makes sense that a box would make the perfect hiding spot from which to surprise you, or whoever else dares to wander too near.
According to a 2006 study by the National Research Council, a domestic cat is most comfortable in a temperature range of 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 20 degrees higher than the human comfort zone, and the temperature most of us keep our homes. So, maybe kitty just likes to curl up in a cozy, well-insulated cardboard box to preserve body heat.
Regardless of why cats love boxes, one thing is certain, watching your cat enjoy a box is one of the more entertaining and satisfying parts of cat ownership. Now you can return that kitty condo, guilt-free…just make sure you keep the box.
Questions or concerns about your feline’s behavior, or need to schedule a wellness exam for your cat? Don’t hesitate to give us a call.