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Why Do Cats Love Small Spaces?
Cats love small spaces. If you’re a cat parent you’ve probably experienced a frantic search for your furry friend, only to find her five hours later squeezed into a shoebox, cabinet, or other odd hiding spot.
So, why do our feline friends do this? Well, cats’ love of small spaces is instinctual – which we’ll explain more about in this article. We’ll also share what you can do to encourage and foster your cat’s love of small spaces.
What qualifies as a small space for cats?
Anything can qualify as a small space for your cat. If there are three sides—or four sides and a small opening—and the location is tiny, then it will work for your cat. Some favorite small hiding places for cats include:
- The dryer
- Paper bags
- Cardboard boxes
- Under furniture
These are just the most popular. Relatively speaking, some of these spaces are smaller than others. A shoebox if much smaller than your dryer, for example. Yet, cats tend to not discriminate. For most cats though, the smaller the space, the better. It is truly amazing how cats can find small spaces to hide in. The whole internet is amused and amazed at the tiny spots our feline friends can squeeze into; hence why videos like this one and this one are so popular on YouTube!
Why do cats love small spaces?
Yes, cats love small spaces. But, you may be wondering what exactly it is that compels them to seek these spaces out. Why do cats love small spaces so much?
As mentioned in the opening, cats’ love of small spaces is instinctual. In the wild, cats use small spaces for security and hunting purposes. Very small spaces allow cats, in the wild or your home, to hide from predators. They can also use these small spaces to be alone and have some quiet time if they don’t feel like interacting with you or your family or other pets.
The hunting advantages of tiny spaces make sense as well. If a cat curls up in an impossibly small location, prey may consider themselves safe. That is why it is common for cat owners to be swatted at or jumped on after they unknowingly walk past their cat’s small hiding place.
Some cat behavior experts also posit that cats seek out small spaces because it reminds them of when they were a kitten. Mother cats have their kittens in a small space. By returning to a small space, your cat is revisiting a time when they felt safe and secure. Small spaces equaling safety is also an expectation that has been set up since kittenhood.
How do I keep my cat safe?
While many of the spaces cats use to hide in are safe, some are not. Cats have been killed by their owners turning on the dryer with them inside.
It doesn’t take much to keep your cat safe while they use small spaces. To discourage the use of small unsafe spaces, give your cat some options. A cat cave like the ones from Feltcave are ideal. These are all-natural, handmade small spaces specifically designed for cats. The materials used help regulate your cat’s body temperature too, keeping winter chills at bay.
Or, if that’s not an option, you can also provide your cat with a typical three-sided box or basket. Some cat beds even come as an enclosed basket. Begin introducing your kitten to their “correct” small spaces when you bring them home. When your cat knows where the best small spaces are, they will be less likely to find new, unsafe spaces, like in the dryer or under the hood of the car.
Is your cat hiding more than usual?
Finally, cats hiding in small spaces is completely normal, but if you suspect your cat is hiding more than usual this may indicate an underlying health issue or stress, such as a cold, an arthritic flare up, anxiety around new people or a new place, or even something more serious. For these reasons it is essential that you keep tabs on your cat and their hiding-in-small-spaces habit. Be observant and know what is normal for your furry friend so you can keep her as healthy and happy as possible. If you notice any abnormal hiding habits, take your cat to the vet for a full examination.
Photo by Ayla Verschueren