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If It fits, I sits: The truth behind why cats love small spaces

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Have you ever lost your cat in your own home? Happens to me all the time. Even though I live in a small 1000 square foot condo, Bella manages to find the most obscure hiding places. Her favourite place is in my closet where she naps on top of my suitcase with my clothes dangling above her (don’t worry, I’ve invested in a good lint brush). She also enjoys lounging in the dryer, laundry basket and under the covers of our bed. But her favourite place to nuzzle is in plastic shopping bags!

If I fits, I sleeps!
Source: jaime.sayler, Instagram

I think I can connect with my purr-pal, Bella. Maybe it’s because I’m a cat person that I can say this, but I’ve realized that when it comes to comfort, we are a lot alike. Ok, maybe I don’t feel exactly the same kind of gratification that cats do from being stuffed into a shopping bag, but I do take pleasure in the sense of safety and security that an enclosed space has to offer. Maybe it’s because I’m a small person and I have no issues with stretching my legs out on an airplane and falling asleep in cars (sorry all you giants out there) but you have to admit that there is something seemingly satisfying about curling yourself up into a ball and pulling the blanket over your head in the winter or sleeping in a tent or a fort made out of blankets, chairs and couch cushions. Cats, on the other hand, don’t just find comfort and safety in small spaces; they find comfort and safety in REALLY small spaces. Not like the cat-to-dryer ratio type of small, I mean the kind of small that makes most people feel uncomfortable!

So why do cats take small spaces to a totally different level?

Most of the online sources that I came across seem to agree on a few things. Primarily that this behaviour is instinctive because they can hide (from predators) and feel safe when the walls of a box or a planter come into contact with their bodies. It makes sense when I think about all of the times I’ve walked by the bed and, unbeknownst to me, feel a tiny paw swat at my legs.

Hello
Source: snowbellys, Twitter

But how do you explain why and how they are able to cram themselves into the most perplexing places (e.g. a flower vase), the kind that cats choose to sleep in instead of the expensive, luxury cat bed you just bought them? Lucky for these crazy critters, their flexible spines allow them to squeeze themselves into the confined spaces, so it’s no big deal for them to cram their furry bodies into a small basket or shoe box. According to The Daily Cat, cats do this simply because they can! They also add that this behaviour might be due to their desire to preserve body heat and a smaller surface area accommodates this.

There you have it. What I thought were cute and silly habits actually serve a purpose for my baby, Bella. So the next time you see your kitten curled up in your shoebox, you’ll know that she is happy as can be…and you’ll know why!

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