We’ve all taken delivery of some goods supplied in a box and left it hanging around our house or apartment for a few hours. Those of us with cats will also have found that our kitty is fascinated by this new arrival in their territory and will spend hours sitting in it or on it.
So, what makes boxes so fascinating for cats and what does this tell us about how to care for and play with our feline friend?
A Box Is A Great Place To Launch An Ambush
Cats are ambush predators so they hide away and then pounce out at their prey. Perhaps you’ve been taken by surprise when your kitty does this to you! It’s quite easy to turn this into a fun game that you can both enjoy.
Get your cat a furry toy that looks like a small mammal (such as a mouse). These are the natural prey for cats. You have plenty of options here. Some cats like motorized remote-controlled mice that are battery operated. You can have hours of fun steering it past the opening of the box and watching it being attacked. The low-tech option is a feather toy that looks like a wounded bird. You can attach it to a piece of string and move it past the box, mimicking the actions of the real thing. This is a natural target for cats and they will immediately begin to stalk it. However, as a word of caution, never leave your cat alone with these toys as they can represent choking hazards.
If you don’t have a toy yet, you can get the game started by simply using a piece of yarn or string and dragging it just out of your cat’s reach. Your cat will have hours of fun leaping out and attacking it and it will save your ankles from getting injured!
A Box Is A Place Of Safety
Boxes represent an enclosed space and to a cat that means safety. In the wild, cats would seek out caves and hollows in trees where they could hide from predators. The domestic cat has to make do with a cardboard box.
To a cat, the box is a warm, snug place where they feel protected. Because they are surrounded on three sides, they know that they can easily spot an enemy that is sneaking up on them and that they will not be taken by surprise. This makes them feel relaxed and comfortable.
When your cat is in the box, they are assuming that you cannot see them so they can observe what is going on whilst remaining hidden. You can make the box even more cave-like by closing it back up and cutting a small entry hole that your cat can fit through.
A Box Helps Adaption To New Situations
Cats find any kind of change stressful. They get worried and upset about house moves, decorating, new family members and even arguments between the humans in the house! They can get quite upset about building work being carried out and even about new pieces of furniture.
Boxes can be very useful in this sort of situation. Cat behavior studies have shown that cats that are given cardboard boxes to hide in will adapt quicker to new and stressful situations.
Cat anxiety is a common complaint that cat owners need to be aware of and it’s good to know that something as simple as a cardboard box can help.
A Box Is Nice And Warm
The ideal temperature for cats is around 37 degrees C so your home may be a bit colder than they would like. This is why you often see cats lounging in shafts of sunlight, in front of fires and even balancing precariously on top of radiators!
Cardboard is a good insulator and provides a warm space that is free from drafts. It encourages your kitty to curl up and relax for a long cat nap.
A Box Is Interesting And New
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘curiosity killed the cat’ and the truth is that cats are just plain nosey! A box is something new inside their territory and they will want to investigate it.
Not only does it look different but, to a cat, it will smell fascinating as well. You will find them sniffing it and rubbing up against it to make sure that it soon smells like they do. This is a way of them marking their territory.
A Box Is A Bed
Cats love to snooze and can spend up to 18 hours a day sleeping. It is important that they find the right spot for a nap. You may find that your cat prefers the cardboard box to the expensive bed that you have purchased for them! If this happens, try putting the new bed inside the box so your cat gets the best of both worlds.
Place the bed and box somewhere quiet where your cat will not be disturbed by young children or other pets.
Boxes Have A Great Texture
Cats love the texture of cardboard. It dents and tears when they bite and scratch it and they find this very satisfying! This makes a box the perfect toy to play with and possibly shred to bits. This may leave you with some cleaning up to do!
If you pop some toys, or even some crumpled up paper, inside the box it will be even more fascinating for a cat.
Boxes Suit Cats Of All Sizes
It’s not just your little kitty that loves boxes. Zookeepers have found that big cats also love cardboard boxes. When the keepers put boxes into enclosures, the big cats leap on top of them, lie inside them and generally have a lot of fun!
So, there are the reasons why your cat loves boxes so much. The main reason is that they are partly or wholly enclosed and that is what appeals to cats the most.
- How to Exercise and Play with a Cat – Pet MD