I recently shared a Washington Post article on my Facebook page explaining why cats love boxes and other small spaces. Cats like their solitude and can often feel overstimulated or uncomfortable in open space, especially if it's a new environment to them. Cats, in general, like to have places they can escape to and recharge their kitty batteries! This behavior also has to do with their hunter instincts. They like to hide so they can sneak up on their prey. Either way, cats like hiding places!
I know I wrote in a post awhile back comparing cats to introverts. This is a similar notion. Too much socialization makes me wish I could escape to my bed, get under my covers, and a read a book. Cats operate similarly, they need their space. The snugger the better too! I know when I have a place I can escape to that is quiet and safe I feel less stressed, and the same goes for cats.
"The cats-in-boxes issue was put to the test by Dutch researchers who gave shelter cats boxes as retreats. According to the study, cats with boxes adapted to their new environment more quickly compared with a control group without boxes. The conclusion was that the cats with boxes were less stressed because they had a cardboard hidy-hole to hunker down in." (Nicholas Dodman, Washington Post)I always recommend to new cat owners or cats who seemed stressed with environmental changes (new home, new work schedule, new roommate, new baby, and etc.) to have a safe space for their cat. This safe space should be in a quiet area of your house and you can even create multiple safe spaces. Sometimes cats create their own safe spaces by hiding under the bed, in a closet, or claiming the laundry basket. Be mindful to close off areas that would be dangerous for your cat to hide like behind electrical appliances and the laundry room.
What I like to put in these kitty safe spaces is an enclosed/covered bed of some sort. A cat will feel safer in an enclosed box or bed than an open one. We have two kitty safe spaces for Chara, one in our dining room and one in a corner in our bedroom. This is the enclosed bed she has in our dining room.
Chewy. You can even create your own if you're feeling crafty by making a DYI cat tent. The same can be done with a cardboard box, by cutting a hole big enough for kitty to get in and out of.