We all know how it goes – you’ve just brought home or had delivered a box of beautiful cat food, new toys, bedding and other wonderful expensive items for your cat. But he’s not interested. He just wants the box. No matter what size it is, the goal is to sit in it, lay in it, do whatever in it. Leaving you wondering why didn’t you just order a box of boxes instead? It’s cheaper, and clearly brings immense pleasure.
What’s the evolutionary reason for this almost universal cat behavior?
We know this is not just a personality quirk, because almost all cats will exhibit this fondness for boxes and tight spaces at some point, especially when it’s something new in the environment. Whether it’s a cardboard box, a toolbox, a laundry basket, a shopping bag, a new bed or some other environmental addition of a suitable size: so many cats can’t help themselves but to become seemingly obsessed with placing themselves in or on said objects. Sometimes the new found interest wanes after a few minutes or hours, while other times it can last for days or weeks!
Theories point towards it being an instinctive urge to hide – as we know, cats in the wild are rather elusive and sneaky, pouncing out of nowhere on their prey. Cat-in-a-box behavior is likely linked to this old wild instinct (which cats, despite their domestic status, have never really lost).
It also makes them feel safe. This makes sense.
But it’s not just boxes: social media lit up with people sharing images and videos of their cats sitting in squares. A temporary square placed on a floor, such as one created with tape, attracted cats. How can this be attributed to a yearning for safety and security, as a box can provide? It could very well be as simple as a square on the floor looking like a two dimensional box, attracting initial attention of the cat