We finally know why cats love to sit in square-like boxes!

WION Web Team
New Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Bharat SharmaUpdated: May 12, 2021, 07:09 PM IST
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Representative image Photograph:(Twitter)

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A new study may help us understand why cats love sitting in all things square!

Cats are notorious for parking themselves in boxes of varying shapes and sizes. But their favourite remains anything that resembles a square. Social media is flooded with videos of cats spending hours in cardboard boxes lying stray in their homes and the odd satisfaction it brings to the felines.

Most caretakers also find it difficult to remove cats from these boxes, sometimes subjected to their claw treatment. #CatSquare trended heavily on social media in 2017 when multiple cats parked themselves in squares which were drawn on floors using tape.

Now, a new study may help us understand why cats love sitting in all things square! Published in “Applied Animal Behaviour Science”, the study claims that cats love to sit in 2-D shapes that resemble the shapes of a square, reported first by Gizmodo. The study is titled “If I fits I sits: A citizen science investigation into illusory contour susceptibility in domestic cats”.

The study’s co-author Gabriella Smith told Gizmodo that they were looking to understand whether felines would sit in a box that would essentially be an illusion and not an actual square to understand the phenomena better.

Cats caught in the act

To achieve this, an experiment was created urging pet owners to create the illusion of square-like shapes by using basic materials like paper and tape. They then created corners without sides, referred to as “Kanizsa Square Illusion” in the science community. This provides the watcher with the illusion of edges in the absence of any shape to create fake squares.

It can be best compared to what the famous game Pac-Man looks like, with illusory corners of a square being fed to the cat’s eyes. Owners were then asked to place these fake squares along with real squares across the house. A third category of a misshaped fake Kanizsa was also deployed. To prevent any influence, even in the form of eye contact, owners were urged to wear sunglasses if they were directly observing the cats, ScienceAlert reported.

The researchers wanted to see whether cats were spending at least three seconds in any of these objects and tested 400 cats for the same. Over six days, only 30 cat owners were to complete their experiment.

Out of these 30 cats, nine cats consistently sat in one of the shapes. They sat on the regular square eight times, the Kanizsa “fake square” seven times, and its misshapen derivative only once.

Essentially, what this reveals is that cats chose the illusory square as much as the real square, meaning they’re susceptible to the same thing experienced by humans when it comes to 2-D objects. Just like us, they chose 2-D shapes not for the space it inhabits but for its sides, and perhaps the sense of comfort it brings to us... or the illusion of it at the very least!