So why the fascination? This slightly odd penchant for climbing into boxes or containers no matter the size or shape, can be explained by the fact that our domestic cats share ancestry with the African wildcat. The behavioural traits of wanting to find safe places to rest and looking for somewhere to get up off the ground, often as high as possible, are traits which hark back to the days when their ancestors had to employ such tactics to keep them safe while living in the African Savannah. When you are having to avoid being eaten by much bigger predators it is a very wise idea to try and find somewhere to sleep where you are hidden from view! Likewise it is a good idea to climb up somewhere high to keep out of harm’s way. Our own cats are still hardwired to behave in this way to keep themselves away from any perceived danger in a domestic setting.
For a cat, a cardboard box is brilliant because it can serve both needs. It allows them to find a safe and private place to rest, away from the busyness of modern life, such as noisy people and other pets, and, if turned on its side, it provides an elevated place to sit and watch said world go by.
Being able to control their environment in order to feel secure is something that makes a cat very happy. So don’t tidy away those boxes, leave them out and see if your cat wants to use them. How about making them comfy and festive by lining one with an old Christmas jumper? Recycling at its best! Forget the expensive plastic toys, happiness seems to come in a box!
For more information about cat behaviour, visit the Cats Protection website.