Hello! Nigel here!
Have I mentioned how much I love a good cardboard box? I really think there is nothing else on Earth like it. I like small boxes, big boxes, boxes with holes cut into the side…. I especially love the boxes that arrive at the hospital that contained bags of cat food or cat nip. These smell wonderful!! I think of all the toys there are in the world, a cardboard box is definitely the best. And I’m not the only cat who feels this way, you know. I have many, many feline friends who also enjoy a good box. I bet you humans have wondered why we felines are so fascinated with boxes. No?? Well…I’m going to tell you about it anyway.
Simply stated, we cats are not a socially agonistic species. This means…we don’t like conflict. Rather than work our problems out, we would much rather run away and hide from them. Boxes let us do this. The small, enclosed space of the box makes us feel very safe and secure. It lets us hide from the threat we think is there (e.g. a dog, an annoying child, another cat, etc….) until we feel it is safe to come out. Boxes also allow us to use our natural inclination to hide for stalking our prey. We don’t want those little fuzzy mice that our humans lovingly provide us with to know we are after them. The best way to sneak up on a furry fake mouse filled with catnip and dressed like Darth Vader, is clearly from the inside of a well designed cardboard box. In the wild, we would hide in a cave, bush, tree top or den. Unfortunately, those hiding places aren’t easy to come by inside of your average suburban apartment. Check out this picture of me below….see how stealthy I am in my chosen hiding place?
Oh….and don’t judge. The doctors have asked me to mention that they do not purchase and drink vodka by the case. I acquired this wonderful plaything after a night of the doctors’ family enjoying some Chinese takeout.
Another reason that we felines prefer to curl up inside of these small spaces, is that we find the human preferred environmental temperature to be a bit chilly. The thermoneutral zone for a domestic cat is between 86 and 93 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the range of temperatures in which we cats are “comfortable” and don’t have to generate extra heat to keep warm or expend any of our body energy on cooling. That range also happens to be 20 degrees higher than the temperature at which you humans like. Corrugated cardboard is a great insulator and confined spaces force us to ball up or squish ourselves into some other impossible object, which in turn helps us to preserve body heat. It doesn’t HAVE to be a box, you know. We cats enjoy hiding inside of all sorts of things. Boots, bowls, sinks, pocketbooks, bags….