Why Do Cats Enjoy Sitting in Squares? Interesting Response

Our feline companions can exhibit some unusual behavior at times. The habit of cats to sit in squares is one of the most well-known strange cat behaviors. Indeed, the entire internet spent a large amount of time in 2017 watching various cats select to sit in taped squares on the floor.

But why are cats so fond of sitting in squares? Is there a rationale for this, or is it simply one of those cat things? While more investigation into the phenomenon of square sitting is needed, it appears that much of it has to do with a sense of security, while other times (like in the case of taped squares) it has to do with the Kanizsa illusion.

The Illusion of Kanizsa

In 2021, experts from Australia's School of Psychology and Public Health and the City University of New York (CUNY) decided to explore cognition in cats, specifically if felines could see optical illusions in the shape of a square.2 However, due of the pandemic, they ended up doing a citizen science project in which cat owners were asked to test their cats at home. These cat owners had to lay down three forms on the floor: a tape square, a Kanizsa illusion, and a control shape that did not appear to be a square.

When it came to sitting, the majority of cats preferred the taped square and the Kanizsa illusion, according to the findings of this study (amusingly named "If I fits I sits: A citizen science investigation into illusory contour susceptibility in domestic cats"). Cats rarely ventured into control shapes that were not square. What exactly does this mean?

It suggests that felines can comprehend false outlines (or fill in the idea of a shape when pictures just imply its borders). Cats can recognize a square shape, and in the case of 2D squares (as opposed to 3D shapes like boxes), they are likely attracted to sitting in them because to the design's sides. However, why would people choose to sit in these squares due to the sides?

Image Credit: JumpStory

Cats May Enjoy Sitting in Squares for a Variety of Reasons

We've all seen our cats hang out in various square-shaped items as cat parents. In reality, I have a zillion images of my kitties crammed into the tiniest little boxes and baskets. But why do our cats seem to appreciate these areas so much?

There are a few theories as to why felines prefer square sitting, but the main one has to do with comfort and safety. Our cats prefer enclosed places (or ones with sides) because they provide them with a sense of protection, especially when they are stressed. When cats are tucked up in those squares, they can see the world from a vantage point that does not need them to be out in the open, keeping them "safe." Even if the space with sides is merely a taped square on the floor, your cat is likely to feel a little more comfortable while sitting in it.

To be warm and snug, our feline pals may seek out a square, such as a box or even a piece of cardboard on the floor. Cardboard can give adequate insulation for cats, and cats appreciate being warm, so it's easy to see why they'd enjoy particular squares that provide warmth. Likewise, square-shaped cat beds and plush, furry rugs!

Image Credit: Kozak Bohdan, Shutterstock

Do All Cats Enjoy Sitting in Squares?

Because every cat is unique, some may not want to sit on square items or taped squares. You may tape off a square in your home only to discover that your cat is completely uninterested or takes a cursory peek before moving on. It doesn't mean anything is wrong with your cat; it's simply a matter of personal preference!

Last Thoughts

The majority of cats enjoy sitting in squares. The prevailing idea for why they enjoy this revolves upon square shapes, which provide them with a sense of security due to the presence of sides. According to the findings of the study, "If I fits, I sits: A citizen science investigation into illusory contour susceptibility in domestic cats," felines can see square shapes and the illusion of square shapes and would ignore other accessible shapes. This lends credence to the hypothesis that the sides of a square are soothing. However, many square shapes may bring warmth and coziness to a cat.

Don't be concerned if your cat refuses to sit in a taped square (or other types of squares)! Because every cat is unique, yours may just dislike sitting in this position.

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