June 23, 2021 Cats

Thinking Inside the Box: New Research into Cats’ Love of Boxes

Kitten in an egg carton

Thinking Inside the Box: New Research into Cats’ Love of Boxes

June is Adopt a Shelter Cat month. Every year to celebrate, I devote my blogposts in the month of June to our furry, feline friends. June was chosen as Adopt a Shelter Cat month in part because kitten season is near its peak and there are many kittens available for adoption in the summer and early fall. Today’s blogpost will focus on cats and boxes.

Everyone knows cats love boxes. At the Animal Medical Center, we often use boxes to give cats a hiding place to decrease their hospital-induced stress. Animal shelters have also found that providing boxes in each cat’s kennel decreases their stress scores. Cats jump into suitcases, laundry baskets; cats even like to sit in squares taped on the floor. If you don’t believe me, check #CatSquares on social media. Perhaps the only box cats don’t like is the cat carrier because it signals an impending trip to the veterinarian.

Why Do Cats Like Boxes?

Clearly cats like being in small snug spaces. Perhaps they remember their early days in a nest with their mother. One of my foster cats chose to deliver her litter in a Fresh Direct box. If a hospitalized cat doesn’t have a box, they often hide behind their litter box or sit in the litter box, where they feel safer in the strangeness of the hospital environment.

New Research into Cats and Boxes

I was intrigued by a recently published study about cats and a box illusion from AMC’s neighbors at Hunter College just a few blocks away.

During the pandemic months, the scientists from Hunter College’s Department of Psychology initiated a citizen scientist research project. They set out to study cats recruited through Instagram and Twitter volunteered by their owners. The families used a printer to create the Kanizsa square and a control to set up on the floor. The photo below shows one of the setups with the control on the left and the Kanizsa square on the right. A square made of tape on the floor was also used in some tests.

Kanizsa square and control illusion

The study found that cats chose to sit in the square made of tape on the floor or in the Kanizsa square more often than the control shown above on the left. This study demonstrates cats’ ability to recognize the illusion of a square created by the Kanizsa square and treated the Kanizsa square in the same manner as they would a 3-dimensional box.

If you like cats and want to watch them play in boxes, tune into AMC’s Kitten Can on our YouTube Channel, Tuesday – Friday.

Tags: adopt a cat month, adopt a shelter cat month, boxes, cats, catsquares, Kanizsa square,

Related Posts

  • Uncategorized
    June 02, 2011

    Prescription: A Cat and a Cardboard Box

    Learn More
  • Cats Pets and Family Responsible Pet Ownership
    A mother cat with kittens
    April 09, 2012

    What to Expect When You’re Expecting Kittens

    Learn More