Why Do Cats Sit in Squares?

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
Cats can sometimes display strange behavior. One of those is their fondness for sitting in squares. Why are they drawn to sit in this shape?

Do you remember when social media was abuzz with cat owners using tape to “draw” squares on the floor, to see if their feline would feel compelled to sit in the square? It’s definitely funny to see which cats choose to take refuge in the square and which ones ignore it, but what is it that entices most cats to sit in squares, whether they’re drawn on the floor or they’re three-dimensional cardboard boxes? We decided to do some digging, and here’s what we discovered.

It Makes Cats Feel Safer

If your kitty likes to squeeze herself into a tight space, it might seem weird to you (how could that possibly be comfortable?!), but to her, it’s a refuge where she can feel secure. Safe from the potentially dangerous open space that surrounds her, your cat can see what’s going without being involved in the chaos.

Plus, mother cats find small spaces where they can safely give birth and care for their litter, so even the tiniest kittens know that a tight area with walls for protection is a good thing. Kittens also feel comforted by the pressure they feel against their mother’s and littermates’ bodies, and a box with walls can provide the same sensation, so they continue to be drawn to it even as adults.

But a square drawn on the floor is no box at all; it doesn’t have walls and it can’t afford any real protection. So why do cats still sit inside the lines?

Squares = Flat Boxes

When your cat sees a square on the floor, she might think that the effect of sitting in it will be the same as sitting inside a box, so she goes right to it to feel more at ease.

Sure, there aren’t any walls, but that square represents a box. It might provide the same feelings of security that an actual box would bring, and that’s good enough for your interesting feline.

Basically, a square drawn on the floor is better than nothing.

What If Your Cat Doesn’t Fall for It?

Not all cats that are exposed to a square drawn on the floor will feel the need to walk into it and take a seat. They might just look at it and move on. This may be an indication that you can’t outsmart your cat, or your kitty might be so comfortable that she doesn’t mind being in an open space (nice work on creating an environment that your cat loves!).

Enrich Your Cat’s Environment with Boxes and Places to Hide

Now that you know that cats like squares because they represent safe little spaces, you can take steps to enrich your pet’s environment with some real boxes that she can sit in. A cubby in a cat tree can provide the same level of comfort and security, with the added perk of being able to observe everything from up high, but there’s also a range of other cubbies that you can set up around your home to give your pet a variety of places to relax.

Who knew a funny social media trend would teach us so much about our feline friends?

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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