Trying to understand the inner workings of a cat’s mind is a futile endeavor. Anyone who has lived with these animals knows that there is a very fine line between love and hate. And the line that does exist is incredibly fluid and unpredictable … in fact, it might not even be fair to call it a line, it’s more like a giant tornado of erratic feelings. If you’ve ever walked into a room to find your feline languidly lounging on the floor and then moments later witnessed them jump with incredible fervor and scale your living room curtains, then you know exactly what we mean here.
What’s behind this random burst of stress or energy? Well, new scientific evidence points to the fact that it might have something to do with the presence of a cardboard box. Yes, you read that correctly. Researchers from the University of Utrech recently published a study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science that sought to determine if cardboard boxes could effectively help elliviate stress in shelter cats. We all know that cats like small, tight spaces, but these scientists wanted to find out once and for all if this is really the case.
To test their theory, researchers worked with 19 shelter cats, ten were given boxes and nine were not. While we weren’t actually there for the experiment itself, we imagine it went something like this…
At first, the cat subjects seemed a bit wary of the test boxes. They were very thorough in the inspection.
Once it was determined that the boxes were, in fact, boxes, the cat’s cortisol levels immediately dropped.
Given the positive response to the boxes, experimenters decided to introduce a control “box-suit.” They found it to be incredibly effective for long-term reduction of norepinephrine and adrenaline.
Interestingly, before the box was introduced, this was only one cat … and he was 14 years old.
Some cats were so chilled out, the scientists had to call them Ubers to get home. Yes, the boxes went with them.
“While we’re very excited by these findings, we’ve only just scratched the surface here. Once we get additional funding, we’re really looking to expand our research into the pawsitive effects of knocking things over, the after-effects of YouTube success, and how to catch and harness the power of red dots,” said research lead, Anita Bauchs, PhD.
Okay, okay so maybe we’re exaggerating a bit. The findings of this study did show very positive results for shelter cats. Seeing as heightened levels of stress can compromise a cat’s immune system, these findings actually could provide a lasting positive benefit for shelter kitties all over the world. If you are looking to make your cat’s life a little more stress-free, grab a nice cardboard box, set it out and watch the magic happen!
Lead image source: Shutterstock