Feel Good Animal News: Cat Studies Done Using Boxes


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Cats experience a strange phenomenon where they adore enclosed spaces.

Gianna Iadevaia, Reporter

Most cat owners are very familiar with their furry friends squishing themselves into tight places that they absolutely don’t belong in. There is a wave of cat images online full of being stuffed into boxes, bags- anything they could get their paws on, to the point where even optical illusions can trick a cat. An anonymous study was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic on this phenomenon, encouraging cats desire towards boxlike spaces.

Even when shown a picture of the inside of a box instead of a real one, cats cannot push down the desire to get inside of it. A researcher has recently released a study asking for cat owners to familiarize their felines with the “Kanizsa contour illusion,” which is a series of images that perceive both our sensory and illusory systems. The investigation reached over 500 pet cats and owners, and 30 of those completed the study’s trials. Owners would observe and record the behavior conducted by the cats once faced with the images, and nine cat subjects selected at least one to sit on or try to force themself into.

The study concluded that cats too fall for 3D and 2D enclosures using the Kaniza illusion, indicating that domestic cats may treat subjective shapes as they would real ones.

“To the best of our knowledge, this investigation is the first of its kind in three regards: a citizen science study of cat cognition; a formal examination into cats’ attraction to 2D rather than 3D enclosures; and study into cats’ susceptibility to illusory contours in an ecologically relevant paradigm,” wrote author Gabriella Smith, an animal behaviorist at Hunter College NY, concerning the study.

Some cats may enjoy sitting in boxes because of the insulation it provides to them, or even just providing comfort and a tight space to hide in. With making great hunting hideouts, and even just trying to avoid conflict by hiding, cats will always love their boxes!