There are so many adorable cat videos on the Internet that proves their universal love for boxes. Why do they try to fit themselves into impossible confined spaces? This makes us wonder why they have such an affinity for boxes and suitcases.
The answer to it is still a mystery to science, but animal behaviorists have come out with many plausible explanations. Both wild cats and domestic cats love to sit in boxes because it gives them a sense of safety. This sense of safety comes from their logical perspective on seclusion. Seclusion equals privacy and privacy means you are safe from other predators.
However, in a household setting, there are no such predators as there are in the wild. Being such an ‘independent’ being, it is quite ironic how they would want to try and ‘fit in’ to anything tiny and challenging. Let us explore why they would like to warm your suitcases, be it stuffed or empty.
Understanding Their Instinctual Behavior
Naturally, your cat wouldn’t trust you 100%. There is nothing to take this personally, rather, try to understand that this is how they are wired.
Since they have always been small and mostly preyed upon, they have a defensive behavior. This is why it is difficult to earn the trust of a cat as compared to a dog.
When in the wild, they are often cautious and alert about their surroundings. To catch a moment of relaxation, they have to often find a secluded area that is away from predators.
High-level perches, trees, caves – anything where they can fit in and hide is optimal for this purpose.
The Unnatural Threat To A Domesticated Cat
This behavior was understandable in a wild setting, but what does it mean in a domestic setting?
Cats often trust you when you are around, but they don’t want to be disturbed. A secluded area comforts them, as they don’t feel obligated to answer your calls, be disturbed by noise, and even by strangers. The only thing they are looking for in these boxes is comfort.
Now, the new threat is not predators, but disturbance. Also, some scientists have found that cats are more comfortable in higher degrees of temperature than what we humans need. This is one of the reasons they love basking in the sun for hours.
They also don’t find it too suffocated to be confined in small spaces. Tighter spaces give them a reason to curl up and warm themselves.
Their Love For Your Suitcases In Particular
Now, barring the possibility of seclusion, there is another reason why they love suitcases – it reminds them of you. If you happen to spend less time with your cat, due to any reason, this would lead them to snuggle wherever your scent is.
Suitcase happens to be the perfect place of warmth, seclusion, and your smell. Your smell gives them a sense of comfort and makes the suitcase a good place to nap.
Another possible reason why cats sit on-top-of/in a suitcase is that they have observed you packing before and leaving. This is their way to protest your leaving while making a demand to be included in your trip.
This demand cannot always be fulfilled and it looks a little heartbreaking when we add this perspective. Alas, we cannot carry them in a suitcase.
They Are Also Territorial
Cats like to mark their territory via their scent. So they will rub themselves everywhere and on everything that you regularly use. What’s yours is now theirs.
They don’t want other cats to take away their portion of love and belongings. So marking their territory with their scent is a way to tell them to back off.
So when you are packing to leave for a trip, they will make sure the cats in the other alley get the message.
They might not be able to accompany you on your trip, but they can rub themselves over your folded clothes in the suitcase and all over the suitcase to make their point clear to other cats. Isn’t this little jealousy and possessiveness kind of adorable?
But this also hints to a bigger issue in cats – Separation anxiety.
How To Identify Signs Of Separation Anxiety In Cats And What To Do About It
Signs Of Separation Anxiety
– Excessive self-grooming to the point of pulling out their hair
– Urinating or pooping on your bed, sofa, or anywhere you sit frequently
– Refusing to eat or drink in your absence
– Destructive behavior
– Eating too fast, vomiting, excessive vocalization
– Aggressive and enthusiastic greeting whenever you come back (pointing to anxiety)
Steps To Counter Your Cat’s Separation Anxiety
Do not make a big fuzz about leaving
When you make a big show of going out, your cat will start to get anxious. Rather, make going out a really casual and regular thing. Just say a simple goodbye greeting and leave.
Try not to show any kind of sadness, as cats are apt at reading emotions and reacting to it.
Identify things that trigger their anxiety
Cats know routines too well. They read every movement of yours and correlate it to any outcome that they have routinely observed.
Jingling keys, your gait while reaching for your bag and shoes, etc. can be triggers for your cat. Identify your routine to understand what your cat perceives.
Make coming and going out very quick and casual
First, you would need to say a simple goodbye greeting. Be out for a minute and then come back quickly. Do that repeatedly 4 times a day to cement the idea that you are always going to come back.
Extend your time slowly and you can witness a calmer cat who is confident in your absence.
Keep your radio or television on
Your cat may like some of the ambient noise that is usually present when you are around. This would comfort your cat and make them feel less lonely.
Play with your cat often
They can take your departure as a sudden disinterest in them. Make sure that you take time out to play with them as often as you can. Treat them and play with them to make them feel more secure about your affection for them.
Leave your scents for their comfort
Keep your used T-shirts and clothes around. This will help them feel calmer. They will feel closer to you and feel secure in your absence.
Do cats know when you leave them? Yes, cats are very observant when it comes to charting out your routine. They know the time when you will get up and they can read your routine to ascertain your departure. You can try to be sneaky and your cat will sniff that something is off from your routine.
Do cats get sad when you leave? It depends on the personality of your cat. If your cat has separation anxiety, then it will feel considerably sad and anxious. But if they are confident in your absence, then they just take it as a regular part of their day. Making a good connection with your cat will develop confidence in your cat.
Why does my cat lay on my iPad/things? Cats are very territorial. They would rub themselves on everything that you regularly use. Also, when you use your gadgets, it becomes warmer. They like the warmth coming out of these things and hence, enjoy laying on your gadgets and things.