Why Do Cats Love Boxes a Lot?

You’re filled with excitement as you have just bought a cool toy for your cat. But your furry feline friend ignores its brand-new plush cat bed or fancy cat condo and instead goes to snuggle down into the box that comes with it.

We’re sure that it has happened to your cat, probably more than once. For a cat, no toy – no matter how cool, fancy, or expensive it is – would be equal to a simple cardboard box. Cats’ interests in boxes have baffled many cat owners, even the most “veteran” cat lovers. So, why do cats love boxes so much? 

To decode this type of cat behavior, this article does its best to explain such a phenomenon.

1) Boxes provide a safe and secure place for cats

Cats would feel safe, warm, and comfortable whenever they’re in enclosed spaces. That is the reason why they love snuggling down into a box, no matter how big and roomy or small and tight it is.

Another reason for the cardboard boxes’ appeal to cats is that they provide a hiding place where predators cannot sneak upon them from the sides or behind. If your cat is in a box, any “intruders” (which include other pets and their humans, too) have to come directly to their field of vision, meaning no one can surprise them.

When an environment becomes too stressful for your cat, a cardboard box becomes the perfect retreat. For a cat, a box provides a safe and comfortable transition from the tense and troublesome outside world. Hiding in a box also allows the cat a chance to observe while not being seen at the same time. Since cats do not have inborn conflict resolution strategies, they would much prefer to run away and hide from their problems. The safety and the privacy of an enclosed space are among the possible reasons why cats love boxes.

2) Cats love the warmth of boxes

This part is pretty interesting. Have you ever noticed that your cat – despite all the fluff – loves to soak itself directly under the sun? A warm temperature is something that makes cats feel cozy. Most felines feel comfortable at temperatures from 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit (30 to 36 degrees Celsius), while the average room temperature of most people’s homes goes between 72 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit (22 to 24 degrees Celsius). So that’s about 14 to 21 degrees Fahrenheit (8 to 12 degrees Celsius) colder than your cat’s minimum thermoneutral requirement. In other words, your cat can feel cold pretty easily, so even an old and beat-up cardboard box is enough for them to keep themselves warm.

3) Boxes help cats to adapt better to their environment

A recent study by the University of Utrecht found another reason why cats love boxes. The study was conducted on a group of shelter cats, with half of them with assigned boxes and the other half without.

The study concluded that cats with the boxes actually helped them to adapt better and faster to their environment. The boxes help cats to deal better with the changes around them.

4) Cats love to sleep in boxes

Why would you spend on expensive cat beds when all your cat wants is a simple cardboard box to sleep in? These boxes promise comfort, privacy, safety, and warmth for your cat to sleep in!

5) Boxes are for scratching and chewing

Another reason why cats love boxes is their texture. Plus, cats are known to be notorious scratchers. They will sink their claws into anything they see – couches, tables, curtains, doors, and carpets. A cat’s paws have scent glands, so when they scratch, the paws emit scent; thus, they leave a “mark” on anything they’ve scratched. So, it makes perfect sense for the cats to have their own retreat and hiding place. They scratch on boxes to leave their scent, marking the territory as their own.

To prepare a box for your pet cat, make sure that there are no staple wires, strings, rubber bands, and twines in the box that may harm or injure your furry friend. If the box comes with plastic handles or straps, remove them, too. Also, strip any adhesive off the box (such as packaging tape), as it can be hazardous to your cat and even cause an intestinal blockage if ingested.