Why are Cats so Curious about Squares?

Just in case my colleagues or wife dob me in (and no doubt Jesse would if he could!), I’m just going to make my confession to you all right now. I have, on occasion – and that’s all I’m admitting to publicly! – been guilty of browsing t’interweb and watching those entertaining ‘fluff’ videos. I’m not sorry though; I think we’ve all needed to switch off at times and escape from the stress of real life during lock-down, haven’t we? Anyhow, I came across photographs and posts on my social media feed of cats sat in circles or squares (a socially distant 2m apart) drawn on the pavement outside a shop, as if they were queuing amongst people for groceries. It made me chuckle, for sure, but it also reminded me why kitties do this. Do you know why? No? Then allow me to enlighten you 🙂

Those of you who are cat aficionados may have seen your own fur babies do this but never have known why. The answer is really quite simple: it makes them feel safe. And before anyone scoffs at the idea, let me take you back to the time in your life when a comfort ‘blankie’ or favourite cuddly toy gave you a feeling of security! I’m not disputing the daftness or absurdity of puss manoeuvring themselves into seemingly impossibly small spaces – we all ask ourselves “how on earth can that be even vaguely comfy?” as we watch them contort into dinky objects, but felines feel mighty fine when they’re squished, clearly!

When you think about it logically, it’s a great strategy: Kitty gets to see everything that’s happening in their immediate environment from his/her refuge, without getting embroiled in the chaos or any potential danger that can come from being out in the open space. This love for all spaces ‘bijoux’ comes from the moment they are born; Mummy Kitty hunts out a cosy corner where she can birth and raise her babies in quiet and privacy, away from noise and prying eyes. So, from being tiny kittens, cats come to associate tiny places with walls to protect them as a good thing; the lateral side pressure that comes from their siblings and mums’ bodies pressing against them also brings them comfort.

Puss parents have all seen the ‘if I fits, I sits’ mentality of their moggy in action, I’m sure, as they determinedly squish themselves into boxes, walking boots or shoes, and even vases and round goldfish bowls! Current research findings indicate that this close contact stimulation releases endorphins (feel good hormones) that calm a cat and decrease their stress levels. To make your cat happy there are some simple things you can give them at home – the most obvious of which is to provide them with a box that they can prise themselves in to. If you want to be flash then you could invest in a ‘cat tree’ that has a den included; the extra perk to this is that Mr or Miss Moggy can be master of all they survey from their elevated vantage point in the living room or wherever.

So we know why cats are drawn to 3-D, physical boxes, but 2-D shapes marked on floors and pavements often have the same effect; why? Basically, when a cat sees a square on the floor they associate it with feeling warm and fuzzy, so they plonk their cute kitty butts inside it to feel calm and Zen. We know, and they may well do, too, that there aren’t any sides to press against; but hey, if it induces the same good vibes as an actual box, it’s good enough. As the saying goes ‘something is better than nothing’.

That said, some moggies will look at a square drawn on the floor and walk on by, totally uninterested in it. This can be looked at a couple of ways: a) you’ve made home so safe for your fur baby that open spaces hold no threat in their mind (way to go and props to you, if this is the case), or b) you just can’t out-smart the real brains in your household!

My own feeling as to why cats are fascinated by squares or circles on pavements, floors and carpets? Sheer nosiness: they can’t over-come their inherent curiosity however hard they try – anything new warrants a look 🙂

So there you have it, a tiny bit of insight into one area of your cat’s psyche. Cats are wonderful, complex creatures that fascinate us humans with the many layers of their personalities. Don’t forget to keep up-to-date with puss’s vaccination and flea & worm regimes; after all, they need to be ‘feline fine’ to get up to all the mischief that you love them for J. Simply contact a member of the Saint Leonard Veterinary Centre reception team and we’ll make you an appointment as soon as is possible. Oh, and if you have photographic evidence of your moggie’s ‘magic’ contortion skills, we’d love to see them!

Until next time; stay safe (and alert), stay well, and be happy 🙂