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Creature Comforts

Comfort is something that is very much sought after by us all. Cats especially love being cosy and require the feeling of safety. We are going to discuss one of their favourite sources of comfort. BOXES! That’s right, you can buy them all the toys in the world, but if you place a box anywhere near them, they will most likely choose the box before all else. In this newsletter, we are going to highlight some of the main reasons this phenomenon occurs in households all over the world!

Solace arises from several places. As ambush predators, cats search for enclosed spaces where they can stalk their prey without feeling exposed or risk some other creature either disturbing or harming them. Even though it has been hundreds of years since the cat has become a domesticated species, their natural instincts continue to lead them to look for security in close quarters and spaces.

Hence the fascination with boxes. Or bowls. Or sinks. Or anything aside from their bed, that they can squeeze into and then surprise you with by jumping out, to give you cuddles when they realize it’s ‘mummy’ or ‘daddy’ and not an intruder coming in through the front door. Cardboard boxes are also wonderful sources of heat, as they are naturally very insulating. They not only provide protection from the outside world, but also provide warmth, reminding them of their kitten days, being snuggled in mummy’s paws! Cardboard boxes are at least on a par, if not arguably better, than catnip in the feline world! The effects of catnip fade away, but cardboard benefits are here to stay. Cats can stay in these enclosed spaces for hours on end for that reason.

There was a study conducted and published in ‘Applied Animal Behaviour Science’ that can finally give us a bit more insight into how boxes provide a source of stress relief. In this study they had two groups of shelter cats. One group was provided with boxes on arrival and the other group were not. After 14 days it was determined that the cats welcomed with the boxes provided for hiding, were able to adapt to their new surroundings by day 3. On the other hand, the cats that did not have boxes available for shelter and protection from their surroundings, took the full 2 weeks to get settled.

This goes to show that we must never forget where these animals originate from. That despite being domesticated, their basic needs have not changed much and can be very different from our own. We must always do our best to supply them with sources of heat and comfort. It is essential for their mental well-being to be able to access places or things that can provide them with the comfort they so desperately need and search for, in our homes.

 

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