Cat dens are one of the many available cat bed options and perhaps the most preferred. Cats seem to gravitate towards these alternatives more than the others. But why is that?
- Cats sleeping habits
- What are cat dens?
- Reasons why cats prefer these den-like beds
- Cat dens and enclosures
- DIY cat den
How Your Cats Sleeping Habits Effect Their Bed Preferences
Historians and cat behaviorists believe that domestic cats are most likely descendants of the African wildcats and have retained most of their instincts.
Even though our felines don't need to hunt for meals at night, it is instinctual for them to sleep many hours during the day and remain active at night. As a result, on average, cats sleep 12 to 16 hours to preserve energy and rest their body for the next meal (or playtime).
When entering deep cycles of sleep, cats prefer to curl up in a tightly contained space. That way, they won't be exposed to predators, noise, and anything else that could interrupt their snooze. For that reason, their sleeping spot can be as important as their intake of food or water. Adequate sleep is essential for cats to grow, develop and remain healthy and happy.
What is a Cat Den?
A cat den, also known as a cat cave or cat enclosure, is an enclosed cat bed where felines like to curl up, play, and hide from the world. Cocoon-like with only one entrance/exit, they provide perfect conditions for multiple activities, making them highly attractive to cats.
Although the most common cat dens are shaped like a nest and made of felt, den-like beds exist in several shapes, sizes, and materials, including wool, wood, rattan, or sisal.
Reasons Why Cats Like Enclosed Cat Beds
Cat caves are particularly appreciated by cats that hide or pounce out of cardboard boxes or furniture during playtime, while favoring quiet and darker places to nap.
Closed spaces allow cats to sleep freely, falling into deep sleep cycles and sleeping positions without fear of attack. Other factors like warmth and privacy - deeply connected to our felines' instinctual needs, contribute to this preference over other bed options.
Sense of Security
Cats love exploring their environments and especially enjoy discovering small enclosed spaces. Though cats are often said to 'own the house', unwanted changes to their routine can cause stress and the need to hide from view. A small controlled space is where they tend to gravitate in those moments to calm down and assess the situation.
A study from Applied Animal Behaviour Science concluded that providing a hiding box to shelter cats can significantly reduce their stress levels upon arrival at a new space. Similarly, domestic cats can be afraid of new people, animals, or vacuum cleaners and search for a place where they won't be disturbed. A cozy cat den or alternative will feel like the perfect hideout.
Felted wool is the most common material used for cat dens. It is self-warming and breathable. When temperatures drop, wool fibers trap moisture and produce heat, making it a perfect cocoon to curl up in. In the summer months, felt cuticles will expand, releasing moisture and allowing cool air to flow through the den. Especially particular about regulating their body temperatures, cats appreciate the warmth and breathability cat caves provide.
Besides feeling secure and warm, it's also crucial that your furry friend feels like they've got privacy. They can relax and groom themselves, sleep belly up or escape during times of stress. Sometimes cats just need a private place of their own where they won't be disturbed.
Cat Dens and Enclosures
Cat dens can range in price, style and quality so it's up to you to be mindful about your cat's preferences and what you would like to see in your home.
Cat dens don't need to be as big as a standard cat bed. A good rule of thumb is to add five to ten centimetres on each side, after measuring the length of your cat. Your cat should comfortably fit inside and be able to move around - Similar to litterbox sizing. It doesn't have to be big, just big enough.
Felt Cat Caves
Felt options offer practicality and comfort. Besides being antibacterial, stain-resistant and foldable, they are soft and breathable. They can also range in color and appearance and meet your decor preferences. If you already suspect that your cat will love one, choose a high-quality cat cave that will also look beautiful in your space.
Cat Den Furniture
On the other hand, more structured, box-like options also exist. But furniture for cats and premium boxed designs do come with a higher price tag. They can be great options if you're looking for a multi-purpose design or something more permanent in your home, that could perhaps replace the cardboard box.
Wicker Pet Beds
Another popular choice, especially for those that prefer a boho decor style, is wicker. This material is sturdy, easy to clean, and cooler on hotter days since air can flow between the woven structure. Some options may have legs, an added feature that provides an advantageous viewpoint. However, these structures are less comfortable and require cushioning, and they do not retain heat.
DIY Cat Den
There are several YouTube tutorials on how to make a cat den at home. However, the easiest one is to repurpose a cardboard box your cat already loves.
Follow our step-by-step below or refer to the video below.
For this simple Do It Yourself you will need:
- Cardboard box
- Scissors or precision knife
- Ruler and compass (if you want to be precise)
- Old/repurposed t-shirt
- Use the tape to close up all openings of the box;
- Rotate the box on its side;
- Trace the entry hole and cut out;
- Place a t-shirt over the box, maintaining the shirt collar over the box opening you previously cut.
- Stretch the t-shirt and secure it on the opposing side by tying a knot or using pins;
- Tuck the sleeves so they stay inside the t-shirt;
- Voilá! Leave it as-is for your cat to test, or place something snuggly inside for extra coziness.
It's no secret that cats love sleep - Cats spend approximately 2/3 of their life sleeping. They deserve cat beds that provides all the comfort, warmth and security they need to get the best rest possible.
For most cats, dens are the way to go. They are cozy, warm and sheltered, providing the the perfect place to retreat from the world.