By Shana Richardson,

Cats of all sizes seem to love boxes.  Boxes must create some gravitational pull that we mere humans are unaware of.  Big cats, like tigers and lions, are not immune to the magic of a box, and we have almost certainly all seen our own cats gravitate to any box we have, and the size of the box does not seem important to the cat.  As a matter of fact, often, the laws of physics do not seem to apply as we watch our feline friends melt into a box seemingly much too small for their bodies.

Boxes are hiding places, playing places, strategic pouncing out of places, napping places.  But the age old question is…why?

Scientists are still trying to definitively figure this one out, and likely will be trying until the end of time, since cats are not great test subjects and don’t seem willing to share their secrets.  However, after much observation, we have a few ideas!

Cats feel comfort and security when they are in a box.  And when in new and stressful situations, their instinct is to hide.  At VERGI, we not only have a cat room that provides our feline patients a barrier from the noise, we also offer them a sort of feline fort that allows them the comfort of hiding, while allowing our doctors and nurses the ability to monitor them.  Offering this safe space for hospitalized cats can lessen stress the cats may feel in the hospital. By lessening stress, we hope to also lessen stress -induced physiological responses that can interfere with diagnosis and recovery. 

Some cats are not great with conflict.  They would rather hide and avoid their problems, and a box is where they go to disappear until their world feels safe again.  Other cats meet conflict head on and use boxes to wait for their next victim to round the corner and get taken by surprise!  This is a game of strategy and you will likely see a set of eyeballs rising occasionally over the top of the box, and may hear claws being sharpened in anticipation of the next attack.   By the way, cardboard makes a great, albeit it slightly messy, scratching material.

Boxes are great insulators and cats generally prefer warmth.  A smaller box offers your cat the perfect spot to curl up and get cozy for a nap. They spend about 18 hours a day sleeping so good napping spots are a must!

Cats are naturally curious, and boxes provide new smells, textures, and if the cat is lucky, a new cat bed to ignore and the box that delivered it to snuggle up in…

Pro-Tip: Your cat’s carrier needs to be a box they are comfortable with, too, because you never know when an emergency will arise.  Leaving it out with a soft blanket might just help make it a safe space instead of a scary, unknown one.