No matter how fancy the facility or how well-meaning the staff, shelters are not ideal places for cats (or any other animal, really) to live. Understandably, being put in cages while surrounded by the sights, sounds, and scents of dozens of strange animals can be incredibly stressful, especially at first.
When cats get stressed out, elevated levels of the hormone cortisol can weaken their immune system and lead to illness that they could spread to others. A new study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science has revealed that one simple object could be the key to alleviating stress in these cats: a cardboard box.
Seriously. Though the conclusion sounds like it was made especially for the internet’s undying love of cats, the study had sound methods. Claudia Vinke, a veterinarian with Utrect University in the Netherlands, and her team followed 19 cats who had just been admitted to an animal shelter, and used a standardized test to monitor their stress levels for the first two weeks in the shelter.