Caturday Felid: Ollie the nose-scratcher

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.)


  1. Posted October 3, 2009 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    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. newenglandbob
    Posted October 3, 2009 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    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. Sili
    Posted October 3, 2009 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    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. John D Stackpole
    Posted October 3, 2009 at 10:16 am | Permalink

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

  5. Posted October 3, 2009 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    They only sit in boxes because you don’t have important paperwork spread out on your desk for them to lay on, silly.

  6. Jessica
    Posted October 3, 2009 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Mine also like baskets and cardboard boxes and small tight areas. Maybe they feel safer there.

  7. erp
    Posted October 3, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    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.

  8. Posted October 3, 2009 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    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?

  9. Necandum
    Posted October 3, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    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.

  10. Posted October 4, 2009 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    Perhaps Ollie was objecting to Jerry’s refusal to acknlowledge cats’ claim to divinity?

  11. Posted October 4, 2009 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    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.

    • Posted October 4, 2009 at 4:38 am | Permalink

      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.

  12. Posted October 4, 2009 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    “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 –

  13. Andrew
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    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)

  14. whyevolutionistrue
    Posted October 5, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    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.


    • Matthew Cobb
      Posted October 6, 2009 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      Panic over. Ollie returned this morning, with a dead mouse as a present…

      • aratina cage
        Posted October 6, 2009 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        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).

%d bloggers like this: