Let's get to the bottom of why cats love boxes, shall we?
If you own a cat, you probably already know how much your furry friend adores one of the most basic contraptions made by man: boxes. These cat owners definitely do, and we eat it right up from this side of the screen—there’s something inexplicably adorable about a cat trying to squeeze in a box at least five sizes too small for it. Uggghhhhh, don’t give up, kitty! Dare to defeat the impossible!
As cute as it may be, there’s actually a science behind why cats love boxes so darn much. Wired went so far as to break it down for us, and we love them for it According to their research it boils down to three things:
1. It’s a coping mechanism for cats in new environments. Veterinarian Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands did a study where she provided boxes for newly arrived domestic cats in a shelter, and for a different group of cats, completely deprived them of boxes. There were totally varying levels of stress between the two groups of cats, with the cats who had boxes getting used to their environment at a much faster rate and feeling less stressed while also wanting to socialize more.
2. It’s serves as an escape for these anti-social critters. Apparently, cats are totally awful at conflict resolution, and instead of facing their issues head on (LOL, cats need therapy), kitties basically run away from their probs and hide in a box. In other words, for a cat, a box is a safe zone where negative feelings diminish.
3. It’s warm. Cats are made for warm climates—much warmer than average room temp. The thermoneutral zone for a domestic cat is 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit, says a 2006 study by the National Research Council. In these temps, cats don’t have to produce extra heat to keep warm. And it just so happens that cardboard boxes make for awesome insulators.
So there you have it! Your kitty loves boxes because it’s the equivalent of a fuzzy blanket for us, and it’s a safe zone from environmental stressors–whether your cat is in a new place or just experiencing a problem it can’t work out. Maybe if we staged a therapeutic intervention for our felines, they’ll be more inclined to talk things out rather than run away and dive headfirst into a box. Hey, it’s worth a shot!