Why Your Cats Are Addicted to Small Spaces and Boxes

If you’ve ever bought your cat a fancy cat bed or an expensive cat tower, you’ve probably found your cat chilling in the Amazon box that came with the bed or tower instead. Kitties simply can’t seem to resist squeezing into narrow places or boxes so much so that there’s a “If I fits, I sits” meme. There are actually a few possible reasons for why they just adore these little nooks, according to experts.

We at Bright Side are curious as to the reasons behind our feline friends’ weird (but adorable!) behavior, and we’re sure you are too.

They’re avoiding the cold floor.

The most comfortable temperature for domestic cats is 86°F-100°F, which is about 20 degrees higher than a human. At this range, they won’t have to generate extra heat to keep warm. Being in a tiny space helps them to preserve their body heat, especially in places that are good at containing heat like cardboard boxes.

Since most homes are around 72°F, which is so much lower than their comfortable temperature, the floor could be very cold for cats. It is no wonder that they prefer laying on the wall under the hot sun to sprawling out on the floor inside the house.

The box is a safe hiding place.

In a tight space, cats feel more secure, said Nicholas Dodman, a professor who specializes in animal studies. This is because it’s quieter and it’s not as dangerous as a wider, open space. Choosing to be in a narrow box can be said to be a cat’s way of controlling the environment they’re in.

They can develop a misplaced sense of security with taped-in squares or drawn-out circles. But these are not as good as actual narrow vessels like shoe boxes.

Small but high places give them a vantage point.

Sitting in a tiny space on the wall, in the corner of a cabinet, or even on top of a narrow door, may look uncomfortable and make them prone to falling, but these places actually allow cats to observe the things around them without being seen. If they have a target in sight, they could pounce when their prey least expects it. They can also stay more alert if there are predators nearby.

Being in small space calms them.

A study found that boxes actually help cats to reduce their stress levels. Shelter cats that were given boxes adapted better to their new environment than those that were not. With boxes, their stress levels reduced in just 3 days, compared to 3 weeks for those without boxes.

It feels like being hugged.

Tight spaces impart a certain pressure around their bodies that can be rewarding, claims Dr. Karen van Haaften. Nicholas Dodman seems to agree with this, saying that since they are used to snuggling with their mothers, cats find comfort in having close contact with the interior of small boxes. He believes that it releases endorphins, which gives pleasure and helps reduce stress.

Sometimes they just want to sleep undisturbed.

Kitties can spend 18 hours a day sleeping, said trained zoologist Luis Villazon. So to clock in their beauty sleep, they find places where people aren’t likely to find them. This way they avoid those unwanted pets from humans and unwelcome attention from other animals.

They could literally be hiding from their problems.

According to the book The Domestic Cat: The Biology of Its Behavior, cats are so terrible at solving problems that they’d rather avoid them altogether. By being in tiny spaces that can only fit one cat, they get to hide alone and not have to face their problems.

They are naturally curious.

Cats are, in a way, just like children. They’re curious about new things and like to explore, said Dr. Karen van Haaften. Boxes and new things can appear mysterious and hence appealing enough for them to want to get inside.

Do you think the experts are on to something or do you have your own ideas? Share photos with us of your cats in small spaces and boxes!

Preview photo credit 2RoamRome / reddit
Share This Article