Cat owners know that felines can’t resist an unattended box
Nobody is sure why cats find comfort in cardboard crevices, but researchers are working hard to uncover the truth. The most widely accepted theory is that as solitary animals, cats seek out safe spots to hide from predators and other members of their species. Wild cats actively avoid conflict with others, as a noisy fight takes a lot of energy and risks scaring away nearby prey.
Cats are also ambush predators, and a box could provide a vantage point from which they can sneak up on prey. Even though our pets have been domesticated over thousands of years, their instincts remain, and we often see behaviour that would help them survive in the wild.
A study in a Dutch animal rescue centre revealed just how much a box can mean to a cat. Researchers divided cats that had just arrived at the centre into two groups and provided only one of the groups with boxes. The cats with boxes adjusted to their new surroundings faster and experienced lower levels of stress than those in the other group. They reached normal levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, by day three, whereas cats without boxes took 14 days to settle down.
Photographs: Stephen Woods, GS-Bob
Image from www.flickr.com/photos/stuutje