Caturday Felid: Ollie the nose-scratcher

October 3, 2009 • 7:34 am

by Matthew Cobb


Today’s Caturday Felid is one of my cats, Ollie. Last year, Jerry came over to the UK to go to a conference and give talks. I invited him up to Manchester, where he gave a special lecture to our First Year students on “Evolution and the New Creationism”, which went down very well. What also went down well were the pints of beer we drank at the Marble Arch Inn in Manchester. Before we went out, Jerry came round to my house to see our two cats, Ollie and Pepper. I held Ollie (who’s a bit skittish), and as Jerry peered at him, Ollie lashed out and scratched The Great Man’s Nose.

It wasn’t quite like Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, but it was still pretty uncomfortable for Jerry.

Anyway, the point of all this is: why do cats like to sit in boxes? (Or in this case, a laundry basket.)

18 thoughts on “Caturday Felid: Ollie the nose-scratcher

  1. Cats do indeed like to sit in the weirdest places. I’ve also never understood why they will deliberately lie on (and fall asleep on!) lumpy things like shoes…

  2. Yes, they do sit in strange places but they can also sit on one’s lap and cheer one up. I think they learn this from dogs via Lamarckian inheritance. (Just kidding!)

  3. Mine is more comfortable. He has his own armchair, and he doesn’t like to lie in my bed, unless he gets to lie on the duvet.

  4. Ollie is no doubt a theological accommodationist, who was just squaring accounts with Jerry’s nose.

  5. A cat my parents had liked to sleep curled up in a round basket on the kitchen counter. It fit nicely when a kitten but as an adult cat it bulged over the sides. However that was its favorite spot all its life.

  6. As far as sitting in boxes, paper bags and laundry baskets go, I assume it has something to do with hiding from predators and prey – not that there are much of either in the lives of most house cats.

    My cat Tiger (orange tabby who I named when I was 4) liked to sleep in a round wicker basket of knobby pine cones. My cat Archimedes preferred sleeping in the bathroom sink. WTF, kitties?

  7. Mine sleeps all over the place, but whenever we get a new box, he always has to try it out. Even when the its a tiny shoebox that’s one third his size…in he goes, belly up, paws waving. Then goes to sleep.

  8. In the case of laundry baskets, it smells like you. Cats feel safe around people they know, and things that smell like people they know make them feel safe too. It’s a matter of security, and cats are basic creatures.

    1. Our two kitty brothers (who now reside in the US with friends) used to curl up together in the bathroom sink. It was cute when they were young but was even better when they grew up — the sink was too small for two large cats, but they liked it anyway.

  9. “why do cats like to sit in boxes?”

    Maybe that deserves a few days of GoogleScholaring – but a small search shows promising results in the area of environmental enrichment.

    According to a thesis entitled ‘Environmental enrichment for cats in rescue centres’ (Roy 1992), cats like materials that maintain a constant temperature such as clothes. This might explain a fondness of washing baskets. I haven’t spent too much time in cardboard boxes but they are probably the same in that respect.

    On the other hand, perhaps the answer lies with wikipedia’s slightly less intelligent brother –

  10. Now can someone explain to me why my cat ate 30 hair elastics, some cellophane plastic, and a guitar string? (it also gets all the cat food it wants)

  11. The bad news, folks, is that shortly after me posting Ollie’s picture, he went AWOL. He’s not a house cat, and he lives in a city. He’s been gone for 24 hours… Will keep you informed.


      1. Whew! Glad Ollie returned safely. I had a cat scare me like that once. She returned after four harrowing days (during which I had to sleep on the couch for “losing” the cat).

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