Tag: leopard

What’s The Real Reason Cats Love Boxes?

Buddy is not overly obsessed with boxes.

I think that’s because he feels safe here, he’s got plenty of places to hide if he wants, and he’s got a big cat tunnel with four ways in or out. He doesn’t need another little space to crawl into.

Still, like any cat, the little dude likes a good box. When he gets to play with a new box he likes to sniff it, rub against it once or twice, then jump inside and determine if it’s comfortable. Then he gets serious, looks around, and slowly sinks down below the top of the box…

…and remains there for a few seconds before cautiously raising his head and looking around. Usually this is accompanied by a delighted trill, and I get the strong sense that he thinks he’s invisible to anyone outside the box while he has the advantage of seeing them.

“You cannot see Buddy, but Buddy sees you!”

Does he ambush me from the box? Does a bear crap in the woods?

There isn’t an abundance of research into why cats love boxes so much, but the existing data combined with what we know about the feline mind strongly suggests that, first and foremost, boxes have a strong psychological effect. They make cats feel secure and well-protected.

Anyone familiar with cats knows the little furballs like to wedge themselves into hideaways, scurry under tables and hide in laundry baskets. The behavior starts in kittenhood when they’re tiny enough to crawl into shoes and sneakers.

In 2021, animal cognition grad student Gabriella Smith conducted a study in which she found cats will happily sit in Kanizsa contours with the same enthusiasm they have for boxes.

Kanizsa contours are two-dimensional. The participants created them by using tape and paper to make the shapes on the floor. They’re not even proper boxes, just the illusory suggestion of boxes or general square shapes. That doesn’t seem to matter to cats:

Of course pieces of tape or paper on the floor do not afford any real protection, so the feline affinity for boxes seems to be more about feeling protected.

Since cats are territorial, it could be that they also like clear boundaries around their personal space.

The key here seems to be having the boundary without blocking access, as cats are notoriously not cool with closed doors or being confined. If they want to spend an hour in a tiny space and it’s their idea, they’re fine with it, but they don’t like to be restricted by when they can come and go.

Notably, this isn’t behavior limited to felis catus. So far there doesn’t seem to be any exception to the box-loving rule among felines and felids of any species. Tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, snow leopards and pumas seem just as fond of them as their smaller cousins, as you can see in this video from Big Cat Rescue:

Boxes are comforting, cozy, fun to explore and make the perfect hiding spots for ambushes. If you’re a cat big or small, what’s not to like?

‘Social Influencer’ Thinks He Saw A Panther…In New Zealand

A New Zealand man says he filmed a “panther” after taking blurry footage of a house cat.

Kyle Mulinder does his best Steve Irwin impression with a breathless “Look at that thing! Amazing!” while zooming in on what looks an awful lot like a domestic cat.

Mulinder continues to provide commentary and generously estimates the cat at “four foot high” as it dashes off a dirt road into a wooded area in New Zealand’s Hanmer Springs Heritage Forest.

Here’s a screenshot of the cat. I wasn’t able to embed the video, so you’ll have to visit the New Zealand Herald to watch it.

Screenshot_2020-11-30 Canterbury mystery Is it a cat or is it a panther - NZ Herald

A handful of New Zealanders have said they’ve seen a large cat since at least this summer, long enough for the local press to dub the cat the Canterbury Panther. Various reports identify the cat as grey, tawny or black.

Mulinder, who calls himself Bare Kiwi online, demonstrated a flair for the dramatic while telling his tale to the Herald.

“It was about 50 metres away, strolling in the other direction but it sat down, turned and looked into my soul,” Mulinder said. “It was a very emotional experience. I was fearing for my life.”

(Insert terrifying Buddy joke here.)

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Yolanda van Heezik, a zoologist at New Zealand’s Otago University, said the chances of a big cat on the loose are “extremely unlikely.”

Aside from the lack of convincing footage of the Canterbury Panther, there aren’t any obvious signs of a mountain lion, jaguar or leopard, van Heezik said. Those signs could include scratches from large claws high up in trees, widespread scent-marking and the trail of prey that would be left by a large carnivore.

“No one’s ever caught one, no one’s ever got really good evidence that they are something different from just a large feral cat,” she said earlier this month. “And there’s also a complete lack of evidence that is indirect like if you had a really big cat like that you would expect there to be more stock kills, for example, but we don’t really have that evidence either.”

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Aside from the cat’s small size, there are other obvious reasons why it’s unlikely to be a panther. The word panther can refer to a cougar, also known as a mountain lion or puma. It can also refer to a jaguar or a leopard.

None of those cats are found on New Zealand: Pumas and jaguars are native to the Americas, while leopards exist in Africa and parts of Asia.

Of course it’s possible someone purchased a big cat from the illegal wildlife market and the animal escaped or was let go, but those cases are rare and big cats tend to be the “toys” of the ultra-wealthy. Local authorities have ruled out the possibility of a large cat escaping from any nearby zoo or wildlife facility, according to the Herald.

Patient Cat Watches Grandma Mend His Beloved Toy

Sometimes cats do things that remind us they’re essentially furry little wise-beyond-their-years toddlers.

I love this story about a four-year-old cat named Lucas and his favorite toy in the whole world, a stuffed leopard he’s been cuddling and playing with since he was a kitten.

“I got the toy from my local zoo, along with a few other stuffed animals,” Alana, Lucas’ human servant, told The Dodo. “He usually leaves my stuffed animals alone, but he wouldn’t leave this one alone.”

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As any cat servant knows, our felines are pretty rough on toys, especially if cats knead on them and drag them around the house.

“He’s had this toy for probably four years, and it ripped because of wear and tear,” Alana said. “My grandma moved in with us last year, and really loves Lucas. [She] saw that his favorite toy was ripped, so she sewed it back together for him.”

As you can see from the photos, little Lucas was curious and entranced by his grandma’s patch job, happily purring as she handed it back to him almost as good as new.

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Buddy’s favorite toy is a small stuffed bird from a wand toy.

He still likes “hunting” it, then laying back and batting it around after he catches it. (And I use the word “catch” loosely. He likes hunting games because his instincts drive him to stalk and pounce, but he doesn’t know what to do once he catches up with his “prey.”)

He drags it around when we’re not playing with it, and sometimes I find it near his food bowls.

Like Lucas’ leopard, Buddy’s bird is ripped, worn and often soggy with cat saliva. What’s your cat’s favorite toy?

Can You Spot The Leopard In This Photo?

Most people know leopard spots afford the big cats excellent camouflage, but this is ridiculous. There’s a leopard in this photo. Can you see it?

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The viral photo has been making the rounds online over the past 24 hours. If you can’t find the leopard, don’t feel bad: I stared at the damn thing for 10 minutes until I cheated and looked up the answer.

Unfortunately it looks like the highest-resolution version of the photo that exists on the web is only 1280×720, so we don’t get the benefit of HD. Either way, this cat has an impressive ability to blend into its surroundings.

A search turns up quite a few similar photos, like this one of a snow leopard:

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See it yet?

How about now?

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Like all big cats, leopards are disappearing from the wild due to habitat destruction, hunting and cub-poaching.