The thing about cats and boxes

What is it with cats and boxes? Put any empty box on the floor, and the cat runs to occupy it straight away. Sound familiar? Well, a certain cat in Japan takes box-obsession to new heights.

  Maru loves boxes, but the result is often an uncomfortable-looking fit.
His name is Maru, and he may be the world's leading real-life Lolcat - he has a perfect mixture of good looks, energy, stupidity, obsession and absence of shame. His exploits are on YouTube.

First, if you haven't already met him, get to know Maru. He's a tabby-and-white Scottish Fold who does battle with rubbish bins, vacuum cleaners and bits of paper; he plays in sinks and he's liable to bury his pretty head deep in a plastic cup. But most of all, this cat likes to play in boxes.

He likes to play in big boxes, so big that he has to high-jump into them and helicopter out.

He likes to play in small boxes, even though he can't, in truth, fit all of himself in there.

And he likes to play in even smaller boxes. Even if it's big enough only to accommodate his nose or one paw, he won't admit defeat. He's going to have that box!

But sometimes the tables are turned, and the box has Maru.

Truly, if you're any kind of cat lover, you have to watch those videos. Maru sums up everything we love about cats. We've all had a cat that does some of the things Maru does, but has any one cat ever been an exponent of it all?

I truly haven't figures out this feline box-obsession. Is it a nesting drive? An urge to explore? Is cardboard especially cosy or protective-feeling? This box thing can also be a bag thing. My old cat Pierre would never leave a bag alone - if he could get into it, he did, and would stay there till boredom overcame him. But he was also one of those cats who just want to explore and "own" any space: an open cupboard, an empty bookshelf, a wheelbarrow, a pillow case.

Sure, it might be inconvenient at times - for example, if you really require that shopping bag right now - but it's also cute and funny and deeply cattish. I say, let them have that box!

Here are some readers' photos of cats who like to play in boxes:

First, Rachael's much-loved V8, named for her high-powered purring engine:

Second, Lisa's cats run out of beer, but the carton still has uses:

And finally, Jenna's ocicat Sparta, whose strategy is occupy-and-destroy-from-within.

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