Anyone who owns cats will have seen them curl up in the smallest hiding holes and squeeze through the tiniest spaces. If you are a first-time cat owner, it may have surprised you how much your cat seems to like spending time in a confined. You might have also wondered how they are able to squeeze through such minuscule gaps. So, why do cats like squeezing into tight spaces and how do they do it?
One of the main reasons that cats like to curl up in small spaces is that it gives them a sense of security, says Catster. It is similar to the behavior of humans who like to have their duvet or bedsheets tucked right up to their chin even in warm weather just because it gives them a sense of security. The security offered by having things close to your body is often associated with the feeling of being a fetus in the womb.
Cats love to keep warm, and this is another reason that they like to curl up in small spaces. You will often find a cat curled up in a room that catches the sunlight, or behind a piece of furniture that is close to the radiators. In colder weather, it is also why cats are sometimes found sleeping in car engines. Likewise, cats use small spaces as a form of shelter. Cats are often not fond of strong winds and rainy weather conditions. They will find themselves somewhere that gives them cover from the elements. It is the need to seek shelter that often leads to cats going missing from their homes. They go out for a wander, seek cover from the elements in a neighbor’s shed, and the neighbor unknowingly locks them in overnight.
Protection Against Predators
In the wild, cats are often hunted by larger predators. To protect themselves, their natural instincts tell them to hide, says Meow Box. Wild cats choose places that covers their back and sides but allows them to see out to watch their predators so that they can prepare themselves for an attack. Although domestic cats are not usually hunted by larger creatures, they have retained this instinct through evolution. If they perceive themselves as being under threat in any way, their natural instinct is to hide somewhere that conceals them but where they can watch out to observe the threat. If your cat is nervous around new people, you may notice that they hide themselves away when strangers come to your home. This is because they perceive the unknown person as a threat and their instincts tell them to take cover.
Wild cats also use small places as a way of concealing themselves while hunting. They find somewhere that covers their body but that has an opening for them to observe their prey. They wait in their confined and concealed position waiting for their opportunity to pounce. Although domestic cats usually do not have a necessity to hunt in terms of gaining food as they are fed by their owners, they still have this hunting instinct. You will observe this if your cat is allowed out into the garden. They will attempt to hunt mice, birds, and even butterflies. Sometimes, they practice their hunting instincts on moving objects, such as leaves blowing in the wind.
Creating Spaces for Your Cat in Your Home
You should make sure that your cat has plenty of spaces where they can curl up to feel safe and warm in your home. The first item that you should add is a cat basket or bed of some sort. This is something that the cat can claim as its own, and it will give them somewhere comfortable to sleep that is warm and gives them a sense of security they crave. Pet Place recommends getting a cat tree or house. These often have several features, including areas for scratching, small spaces for your cat to hide, and different levels that will fulfill your cats’ need to climb. These are multifunctional items that fulfill many of your cat’s natural instincts, act as a form of entertainment, and help your cat to trim their own claws. Therefore, they are a worthwhile investment. However, you do not need to spend lots of money buying items that offer small hiding holes for your cat. It is likely that your cat will find their own places they like to curl up in your home. These are often the most surprising places, as cats seem to have the theory that if they can fit in it, they will sit in it.
How Do Cats Squeeze into Tight Spaces?
Although you now know why they hide in small spaces, you are probably still wondering how they fit into spaces that are so small. It is the anatomy of cats that allows them to do this, as their anatomy is different from that of a human. Cats are extremely flexible, especially their spines, shoulders, and collarbones. Due to this flexibility, they can twist themselves into all types of shapes that allow them to squeeze into the most obscure places. Also, cats are a lot narrower than they look as their fur bulks them out.
An interesting fact is that a cat’s whiskers play a key role in their ability to fit into spaces. They use their whiskers to determine how wide an opening is and whether they can fit into it or not, as their whiskers have nerve endings. If a cat is within a healthy weight range, they can fit into all spaces that are as wide as their whiskers. However, a cat can still sometimes get stuck if there is not enough room on the other side of the opening they have entered. Cats getting trapped is quite rare and usually only happens if someone closes the door behind them, as they can usually back out of a tight space if they cannot move forwards.