More info: sciencedirect.com
It was theorized that cats in boxes felt so happy because they reduce stress. In 2014, Utrecht University researchers agreed by conducting a study to check this hypothesis.
What they found won’t surprise you — lying in boxes actually lowers the stress levels of cats. At a Dutch shelter, the researchers conducted a study involving 19 shelter animals, 10 of whom had a box with them.
In their study, the scientists stated: “Stressful experiences can have a significant impact on the welfare of cats and can lead to higher incidences of infectious diseases in shelters due to increased levels of cortisol causing immunodeficiency. While several studies showed a preference in combined studies for hiding places and stress-reducing effects of hiding boxes on cats, none of these studies decided if proper hiding enrichment would be successful in a quarantine cattery..4
We instantly noticed a difference between the community of cats with a box and those without the box. The Kessler and Turner Cat-Stress Rating (CSS) were used to determine the level of cat stress. The cats with a box showed a lower level of stress than a non-boxed group of cats after a couple of days. A few weeks later, the same CSS was recorded by both groups.
Image Credit: Boredpanda
The scientists concluded: “The hiding box appears to be an important enrichment for the cat to effectively cope with stressors in a new shelter environment the first weeks after arrival.” Scientists noted that further study is needed to determine the effect of the hiding box on house cats, its long-term effects, and correlation with infectious disease outbreak frequencies.
ThreeTn thanks you for your interest in this topic, and invites you to browse and read more in the next article.