The cat lovers among us love to search the Internet for cute pictures of felines. One of the most common images that comes up are photos of cats inside of boxes. If anyone has ever spent a great deal of time with a cat, they already know how much kitties enjoy playing inside of boxes. Some cats will spend hours inside of one, refusing to come out.
Even boxes and containers that barely provide them with enough room to fit comfortably are fair game. Scientists at the University of Utrecht decided that they finally wanted an answer to the age old question of why cats love boxes so much and set about obtaining one. Their goal was to find out whether hiding out in boxes was a form of stress relief for cats.
Their research allowed these scientists to come to the conclusion that the shelter of a box helped cats to lower their stress levels. While there is no evidence as to whether hiding in boxes decreases a cat’s stress over a long term period, the studies showed that climbing into a container provided short term stress relief, no matter the size.
Skeptics may believe that this research is simply a convoluted way for would be scientists to spend their days playing with fuzzy kitties, but these experiments were conducted with a true purpose in mind. Since most domestically trained cats seem to struggle mightily once they are placed in shelters, it is important to see why.
When a cat is not happy and is consistently experiencing stress, this can actually have adverse effects on their immune system, making them much more susceptible to illness. The research team divided the group of cats into two separate factions. One set would receive boxes to hide in, while the others would not.
After separation, the cats were analyzed over the course of two weeks, by using the CSS (Cat Stress Score) method. On the third day, it was discovered that the cats who were given boxes of their own had much higher CSS scores. While some of the cats who did not have a box were not experiencing stress, many of them were.
The cats who did not receive boxes were finally able to lower their stress levels two weeks into the study. The scientists concluded that the boxes provided much needed shelter and stress relief for cats who had been placed in a foreign environment. However, the effects were much less pronounced after the first week.
The findings were attributed to the fact that cats are not a species that enjoys forced socialization. Others believe that cats enjoy the warmth that a box provides. By reading about this topic and looking at the cute pictures, you are actually contributing to legitimate scientific awareness!