Why Do Cats Love Boxes? 7 Possible Reasons

Why Do Cats Love Boxes? 7 Possible Reasons

Author WCF Staff


If you're lucky enough to have a cat, you've probably seen your cat playing with boxes. Cats have an odd attraction to boxes, using them as hiding places, strategic sneak attack locations, or makeshift beds. You've probably wondered at times, "Why do cats love boxes so much?"

Cats enjoy boxes because they provide good hunting hideouts, keep them warm, and are new and mysterious additions to your home. The mysterious link between cats and boxes is an intriguing topic to investigate. Here are the 7 reasons why cats love boxes.

1. Boxes are fun

The most obvious reason a cat is drawn to a box is - boxes are FUN! Cats can roll around in it and jump in and out of it, pouncing on toys or their owner's feet as they pass by. Give your cat a fuzzy ball, and it’ll happily play for a while, but give her a cardboard box, and it'll think it's the best thing ever! It's like a miniature Disneyland for cats wrapped in plain brown paper!

cat in a small box

2. Boxes make excellent stakeout places

Boxes provide concealment, allowing cats to hide from their prey and catch them off guard. If you have multiple cats, you've probably seen one cat hide in a box, waiting for an unsuspecting second cat to walk by. Boxes are excellent for sneak attacks on other cats and unsuspecting ankles.

3. They provide warmth

Cats can benefit from the use of boxes to keep them warm. Cats' normal body temperatures range between 99.5°F and 102.5°F, and cardboard can act as insulation, allowing them to retain their body heat.

cat looking outside of a box

When cats are outside, they crave this insulation because boxes can also provide shelter from the elements. Even if your cat only lives indoors, they have an instinctual need for shelter.

4. The box is something new

A box's "newness" factor may be enough to pique your cat's interest. Cats enjoy exploring their surroundings, so bringing something new into the house, whether a toy, a grocery bag, or a box, can pique their interest. They must investigate every inch of new landmarks, including determining whether or not they fit inside your new box.

This "new" factor could also explain why cats like paper and bags. A new crinkled-up paper or bag can be very appealing because it opens up new possibilities for exploration.

5. Boxes are sensory deprivation chambers

Few things are more stressful for a feral cat than being apprehended by animal control and transported to a strange, loud, and bright animal shelter. Boxes come in handy! A recent study discovered that giving feral cats hiding boxes when they arrive at an animal shelter reduces their stress and the time it takes them to recover from the transition.

chartreux cat in a box

6. Boxes make great beds

Don't squander your money on one of those fancy, pricey cat beds... Simply place a blanket in your little furry friend's box, and you've created a palace for her! Boxes provide a cozy, luxurious (in your cat’s opinion) sleeping environment. They'll also sleep better knowing they're safe and hidden.

Cats prefer boxes, but they will curl up in any type of enclosure... their owner's purse, a suitcase, drawers, the laundry basket, cabinets... anywhere that proves to be a good hiding place.

7. Cats feel safe and secure in a box

The fact that boxes provide safety and security is most likely the primary reason cats find them so appealing. A typical cat response to stress or fear is to hide or seek an enclosed space. It's a completely natural, instinctive reaction. Nothing can sneak up behind them or from the side when in a box. Your cat has a direct line of sight to anything approaching from the front. Cats use boxes as a coping mechanism, providing comfort and relieving anxiety.

A new environment can be very stressful for a cat, and a hiding box can help make the transition easier.

ginger cat in a box

The University of Utrecht conducted a study in a Dutch Animal Shelter in which 19 new arrivals were divided into two groups. During the acclimation period, one of the two groups was given "hiding boxes." Stress indicators were measured on both groups of cats. It was discovered that cats given hiding boxes showed significantly less stress than cats in the other group. They adjusted to their new surroundings more quickly. A box to hide in provided comfort and security to these anxious, fearful shelter cats.

How to make a box more appealing and comfy for your cat

There's nothing wrong with your cat loving boxes, but there are some precautions you can take to make boxes a little safer for your beloved feline. Before giving your cat a box, check for any leftover staples or tape that could become entangled in your cat's fur.

Consider placing the box on a stable surface that will not tip over. That means that putting a box at the top of a cat tree may not be a very good idea. If your cat is shy, keep the box away from high-traffic areas.

You could even make the box more inviting by padding it with soft blankets and including one of your cat's favorite toys. Setting up a calming diffuser near the area can also make it more inviting. A calming diffuser emits odorless, drug-free vapor that mimics the pheromones released by cats to indicate that an area is safe and secure. This is similar to sending a signal in a cat's native language to let them know they can relax.

A cat's love of boxes is something to be encouraged and celebrated. Whether your cat is stressed, needs extra warmth, or simply wants to play, a box can be an excellent "toy" to add to their collection.

World Cat Finder Team

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