Maybe you have always noticed that cats seem to find the oddest places for them to stay quiet and relax. Even if they have numerous toys, they can find a simple carton box more attractive than their special bed you just bought. So, let’s find out why our cats preffer to sit in boxes, sink or on top of the fridge.
The ‘If it fits, I sits’ principle
The feline observers will note that in addition to boxes, many cats seem to pick other odd places to relax. Some curl up in a bathroom sink. Others prefer shoes, bowls, shopping bags, coffee mugs, empty egg cartons, and other small, confined spaces.
Which brings us to the other reason your cat may like particularly small boxes (and other seemingly uncomfortable places): It’s friggin’ cold out.
According to a 2006 study by the National Research Council, the thermoneutral zone for a domestic cat is 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the range of temperatures in which cats are “comfortable” and don’t have to generate extra heat to keep warm or expend metabolic energy on cooling. That range also happens to be 20 degrees higher than ours, which explains why it’s not unusual to see your neighbor’s cat sprawled out on the hot asphalt in the middle of a summer day, soaking in the sunlight.
It also explains why many cats may enjoy curling up in tiny cardboard boxes and other strange places. Corrugated cardboard is a great insulator and confined spaces force the cat to ball up or form some other impossible object, which in turn helps it to preserve body heat.
Hiding from „enemies”
If cats find themselves in stressful situations, a box or some other type of separate enclosure (within the enclosures they’re already in) can have a profound impact on both their behavior and physiology.
It makes sense when you consider that the first reaction of nearly all cats to a stressful situation is to withdraw and hide. “Hiding is a behavioral strategy of the species to cope with environmental changes and stressors.” This is as true for cats in the wild as it is for those in your home. Only instead of retreating to treetops, dens, or caves, yours may find comfort in a shoebox.
All of these studies—many of which focused on environmental enrichment—have been taking place for more than 50 years and they make one thing abundantly clear: Your fuzzy companion derives comfort and security from enclosed spaces.