Whose cats would rather sleep in old card boxes instead of a brand new $30 bed? Or have you ever seen them jamming in tiny compartments when there’s a spacious, comfortable sofa they can lay in? Their peculiar habit is one of the behaviors that remained unexplained for ages. It’s like these boxes have a mysterious force that attracts them, and that can be frustrating sometimes. However, researchers from the University of Utrecht had been examining such behavior and finally came up with an explanation.
A hypothesis of the behavior is that cats feel relaxed and comfortable sitting in boxes. In 2014, Utrecht University’s researchers decided to put this theory to the test by conducting a study.
The researchers carried out a study at a Dutch shelter, involving 19 shelter cats, 10 of which had a box with them. The results are pleasant, as it confirms the hypothesis is actually a fact! Laying in boxes does reduce cats’ stress levels.
The scientists stated in their study: “Stressful experiences can have a major impact on the cats’ welfare and may cause higher incidences of infectious diseases in the shelters due to raised cortisol levels causing immunodeficiency. Though several studies showed a preference for hiding places and stress-reducing effects of hiding boxes on cats in combined studies, none of these studies determined if proper hiding enrichment would be effective in a quarantine cattery.”
In just a short amount of time, the team noticed a difference between the group of cats who were kept with a box and those who were not provided with one. Their stress level was determined by using the Kessler and Turner Cat-Stress Score (CSS). After a few days, the cats with a box recorded a lower stress level than a non-boxed group of cats. A few weeks later, both groups recorded the same CSS.
The scientists concluded: “The hiding box appears to be an important enrichment for the cat to cope effectively with stressors in a new shelter environment the first weeks after arrival.”
Scientists stated that further study is needed to determine what effect the hiding box has on house cats, its long-term effects, and its correlation with outbreak frequencies of infectious diseases.
The result is clear that our felines do not only consider boxes as their untouchable territory, they also sit in boxes for comfort and security. Originating from their predatory history, they usually find enclosed, obscure spaces to hide and sneak up on prey. Moreover, cats’ reaction to stress and threat is often running and hiding, so boxes are the ideal place for them.
Therefore, don’t be disappointed if your cat prefers boxes over bed and sofa, be sympathetic to their behavior, and don’t throw away their boxes, or else your cat might be upset with their loving item!
Internet users all agree to the new, confirmed fact!