Think outside the box

January 11, 2021

Why think outside the box when you can think inside the box? For the kitty, the choice is simple: If I go inside, I sit down! However, it is not the glory of a viral video that pushes our dear fur balls to seek refuge in this cardboard haven. Instead, it is a way to soothe their anxiety.

The main attraction of the box is its small size. A narrow hiding place is an ideal place to observe without being observed. The impenetrable walls of paper provide a sense of security that is second to none. With its back protected, the cat can sleep peacefully. However, these are not the dangers that exist in the comfort of the house. So what's the point? Even if no predators are lurking in the living room, pets can still experience stress. A box's comfort is welcome when returning from a visit to the veterinarian or after a move.

A study published in the Applied Animal Behaviour Science journal attempted to quantify these famous boxes' impacts on the well-being of cats introduced into a new environment. Over a period of 2 weeks, the subjects' stress level was evaluated using the Kessler and Turner Cat-Stress-Score test, which is based on the degree of activity and the position of the ears and tail. The researchers found that only 3 days after their arrival, the 10 cats with the boxes were significantly less stressed than the 9 without them. The latter, who were slower to acclimatize, reached similar scores to the other group only towards the end of the experiment.

This preference of the felines for restricted spaces is not surprising considering that their hunting strategy is based on the surprise effect in the wild. Even the big cats will climb trees or sneak into caves to try to escape from view! Lying in the shade, they patiently wait for the right moment to pounce on their prey. So don't be surprised if, after unpacking a package, your toes fall victim to a vicious ambush...

Another significant benefit of the box is its insulating quality. According to our standards, for the cat, who is comfortable in hot temperatures, a house at 20°C seems icy. Huddling in the hollow of this miniature shelter allows them to keep a few precious degrees. 

And what about all the games that kitty can play in its fortress? Forget the elaborate and expensive toys; it's the box in which they are delivered that will capture the creature's interest. Sound! Taste! Texture! Pure pleasure. If you're looking to de-annoy your little mustache buddy, a perforated box of treats is a great enrichment activity! 

Sources:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159114002366

https://www.livescience.com/45461-why-do-cats-like-boxes.html

https://www.petmd.com/cat/general-health/why-do-cats-boxes

https://www.purina.co.uk/cats/behaviour-and-training/understanding-cat-behaviour/why-do-cats-like-boxes

By : 

Geneviève Coudé

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