Dear Green Gato #6 – Cats and Boxes

Cat Looking Through A Hole In Cardboard BoxDear Green Gato,

My cat, Daisy, is the silliest little thing. She loves to play, loves to hunt, and loves to cuddle. She also has an obsession with small spaces. Any time I bring home the groceries and unload them into the fridge, I have a cat delivery in the bag. If I’m packing for a trip, there’s Daisy, plopped right in my empty luggage case. It’s an adorable habit, but I have no idea why she does it! I know that there are lots of videos online of cats in hilarious small spaces, and lots of my friends with cats say that theirs do the same thing. Why do cats love boxes and small spaces so much?

– Mary G.

Thanks for writing in, Mary! As cat owners know, kitties and boxes go together like peanut butter and jelly. The allure of a tight space is almost too enticing for most house cats. The need to enjoy boxes, bags, and other little compartments is an adorable trait of cats. Yet, most people have no idea of why these cats would have such a bizarre commonality.

The main reason that Daisy simply can’t stay out of your laundry basket is simple; it’s instinct. Finding protective confined spaces is an instinctual behavior, one that helped wild cats in more ways than one. Hiding in small spaces not only helps with hiding from predators, but also helps with stalking prey.

When a cat is surrounded on all sides, their field of vision is precise. There is no way that a predator, or prey for that matter, could escape or surprise your cat when they are in a protected space. Cats feel like they can watch the outside world with full protection when they find just the right space to squeeze into.

As a predator, cats use their small-space sneaking skills to prey on anything that comes into their field of vision. The prey will pass by or appear, and your can can jut out from their hiding place and return safely, likely with their score. They can watch the world without the threat of exposure. As prey, small spaces provide solace to cats and allow them to best protect themselves and be aware of their surroundings.

You may also notice that your cat seeks out small spaces to relax in. This habit goes along with your cat’s desire for protection. In order to truly relax, your cat seeks out a small, snug spot to feel safe in. With no room for intrusion, your cat’s small sought-out spot can keep them protected for a lazy nap.

Did you know that big cats also love boxes for the same reasons? Many lions, tigers, and other big cats in captivity have been given similarly-minded shelters in order to make them their most comfortable. When you go to the zoo or an animal preserve and can’t seem to find the lions, try to peek inside their small enclosures. Sometimes this will be as big as a fake rock, or as simple as a giant cardboard box.

Now you know why Daisy loves small spaces so much. You can provide your cat hours of endless entertainment by simply leaving out grocery bags and empty boxes while you’re away; a low-cost low-cleanup interactive toy. If you’re worried that your cat is lonely when you’re away, you can do just that. Have fun!

-GG

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