The science behind why cats love boxes

WIRED just tweeted an article that explains why cats love boxes:

Research published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science demonstrated that boxes temporarily reduce stress in cats as measured by the Kessler and Turner Cat-Stress-Score.


3 thoughts on “The science behind why cats love boxes

    • Funny you should ask, Doctor L. In addition to the temporary reduction in stress, cat experts agree that part of the behavior may be instinctual since cats are predatory animals and enclosures provide concealment from prey. Furthermore, cat research suggests that cats’ thermoneutral zone is twenty degrees higher than ours, so keeping warm might also be a contributing factor to this foolish, albeit adorable, behavior. As a paper bag would likely provide less warmth than a box (if any at all), I suspect the impetus behind your cat’s obsession with Whole Foods bags is the aforementioned predatory concealment factor (or what we in the field simply call PCF). Either that or the Whole Foods bags smell like food.

      Regarding Dina’s Liquid Feline, I suspect it’s either curious and playing or doing it for warmth. Since Liquid Kitty surely recognizes the transparency of glass, PCF is likely not a driving force. Additionally, since the stress-related research I mentioned applies to cats placed in new environments and Liquid Kitty seems to be in a living room, stress reduction is probably not its goal. One way to tease out the relative importance of warmth vs PCF would be to present cats with insulating transparent enclosures and non-insulating opaque enclosures and observe their overall preference. My next grant submission will be on this very important topic.

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