Caturday felid: claustrophilic kittehs

March 5, 2011 • 5:18 am

Today we have two cats who like to be enclosed in tight spaces (this seems to be common among housecats, perhaps reflecting an evolutionary past that included denning).

First, from the Daily Mail, comes Ksyusha, a crazed kitten who loves to crawl into tight spaces, including jars and dryers.  Her owner swears that she does this on her own volition.

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And of course our old standby, Maru the Japanese Scottish fold, who just nabbed the Salon Viral Video award for Best Animal Performance.  Maru, as you know, has a penchant for entering boxes, regardless of their size. In this, the winning video, Maru’s owner (the pseudonymous “mugomogu”) actually does a scientific experiment to test which size of box Maru most prefers:

29 thoughts on “Caturday felid: claustrophilic kittehs

    1. Favorite moment: he puts his front paws in the small box, then looks back at his hindquarters as if to say “Damn — what am I going to do about that bit?”

  1. When my cat Freti (beloved companion of 19 years, died 2008) was in his last illness, he kept trying to creep into the smallest, tightest places he could find. I extracted him from behind a radiator twice before I finally got the thing blocked off. He spent a lot of time trying to work his way under the kitchen cabinets, then finally contented himself with curling up at my feet, where he eventually breathed his last. Oddly enough, my computer gave up the ghost just a few minutes after that, leading me to conclude that Freti was my cyberfamiliar animal spirit guide to the internet.

    1. Aaack. We had an elderly, failing cat that was found dead beneath a cedar chest, in a space we wouldn’t have felt he could possibly have squeezed into. Any one with more data points, here?

      1. A friend suggested that cats may have some instinct that prompts them to hide when they feel vulnerable – pregnant cats “nest” when they’re about to give birth – maybe sick cats do the same thing.

        1. Not universally: out of the seven cats we have lost over the last 34 years, I can recall two examples of hiding, two who definitely sought our company, and three who did neither to any noticeable degree.

        2. E.A. Blair–Yes, now that you mention it, that’s something we thought of, too. Still, the miniscule size of the hide selected floored me.

          Eamon Knight–well, obviously not a universal trait. And certainly not something I care to witness very often! One can go through a lot of cats in one’s life, though; sigh.

  2. I’d call these kits claustrophilic. They don’t have a fear of enclosed spaces, they LOVE them!

  3. The question for the evolutionary theorists is, why does Maru lash his tail constantly? My fat mama cat, Bazalgette, usually has the tip of her tail slowly and gently twitching back and forth; her daughter, Brunel, keeps her tail totally still. Clearly, based on this extravagant sample of three, cats show variation in the amount of tail lashing they do in normal course.

    What would Darwin say?

    1. I don’t know what Darwin would say, but I interpret the sort of rapid side-to-side tail-lashing seen in this video as a sign of irritation or frustration. It’s Maru’s way of saying, “I should fit in here, dammit!”

      1. I know! I love that mischievous tail wag– a sure sign that something is about to go down.

        *flick, flick, flick*

      2. Well that’s how I read it. Tail-lashing like that is a sign of rage; I took it to mean “this box is all wrong, dammit! I’m making the best of it but it’s all wrong.”

    2. I would hold my cat’s tail still claiming I was “recharging it”– and when I let go, the flicking would start with new robustness.

      The tail flick does seem to indicate some planning is going on…

  4. Great. Now I can’t get the image of a supermarket shelf full of bottled kittehs out of my head. I’m gonna have some strange dreams tonight…

  5. Tail lashing in cats is generally considered a sign of irritation. One of my previous cats, Thorbjorn, had a curious behavior: he’d patrol the house, and when he came to a point where he had to choose between one direction and another, he stopped, and his tail drooped, then very slowly switched back and forth in the opposite direction in which he was looking. Then, mind made up, the tail went up and he’d proceed. I also noticed his tail switching in the same way anytime he appeared to be making decisions.

    My current elder cat, Kveldulf, has a passion for boxes, but not as pronounced as Maru. He once worked his way into a cardboard box that was about a foot wide, a foot and a half long and only two inches high. On another occasion, he stuck his head in my shoe, got stuck, and ran around in circles for a couple minutes before he managed to get himself out. Kveldulf is now in ill health and, I fear, will not be with me much longer.

  6. I would like to see what Maru would do if all the boxes were lined up and he had a choice, going from far too small to very large. What is his preference? We know he loves all boxes, but does he love some more than others?

    1. There is actually a video similar to what you suggest, where he has a “box off,” choosing between two boxes at a time until he gets the winner. I can’t find it at the moment, but I will–and I’ll post it here.

    2. Ahh. . .here it is: the true scientific experiment. Small box wins! Note his tail switching furiously during the final choice.

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