Why Do Cats Like Boxes? 8 Reasons Why!

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Do you spoil your cat with endless toys and beds only to discover that the box the item arrived in is more valuable than the gift itself? If so, you’re not alone! Almost all cat owners are familiar with the catchphrase, “If it fits, I sits.”

Cats have an extraordinary fascination for resting or sleeping in unexpected places and squeezing themselves into tight places like bags, containers, sinks, laundry baskets, and boxes. There’s just something about the confined and comfy space that they find irresistible.

Although we might not have all the answers regarding why cats like to pack themselves into tiny spaces and small boxes, a few interesting theories explore this feline phenomenon.

Why Do Cats Like Cardboard Boxes So Much?

Though cats like boxes for several reasons, safety and security are the main motives. Cats are both prey and predators, and boxes enable them to hunt, hide, and feel safe in an enclosed space.

Why do cats like to sit in boxes? Let’s explore the top 8 reasons cats like to snuggle in cardboard boxes:

1. Boxes Offer Hiding Opportunities And Safety

Biz sleeping inside a shoe box

Being able to hide is crucial for cats! Even the foremost confident or outgoing feline needs a place in its home to retreat and conceal occasionally. Boxes help kitties feel safe, allows them to assess their surroundings from a secure area, provide them a sense of control over what happens to them, and improve their feelings of confidence.

Moreover, cats aren’t good at conflict resolution, particularly with their own species, so a cardboard box offers a secure space to retreat in response to threatening behavior from other cats.

2. Cardboard Is A Terrific Insulator

Cosy sitting inside her airplane cardboard box

Turns out cats aren’t only clever but know how to choose the correct product to keep up their body heat. The thermal property of a corrugated cardboard makes it a good insulator since it traps heat. The enclosed space of a cardboard box offers warmth, tranquillity, and solace from the outside world.

3. Wonderful Cozy Sleeping Spots

Melina’s DIY cat box house for Jimmy and Jose Miguel

Cardboard boxes are a favorite sleeping place for many felines since they provide warmth, protection, and comforting pressure. Boxes are a great place for uninterrupted sleep. A recent survey found that elderly cats’ top sleeping preferences are warm sunny spots, by the radiator, next to the fireplace, or on their owner’s bed. Although carton parcels came last on the list, experts recommend providing elderly cats larger boxes with shallow entrances for easy access to account for the geriatric cat’s lack of body flexibility..

4. Boxes Are Fantastic Play Spaces

Serafina sunbaking inside a cardboard box

Regardless of the box shape or size, cats are inquisitive creatures who like to play as well as explore novelty items. Cardboard has a distinctive texture that’s ideal for endless fun and scratching.

Most notably, it’s fun for cats to play through cut out entry/exit holes in boxes. Boxes can also be turned upside down to provide variety, great for cats since they are attack predators who prefer to obscure themselves before pouncing on toys, other cats, and humans when they least expect it.

5. Stress Reliever In New Environments, Shelters, And Vet Clinics

Simba and Serafina sitting inside their homemade cardboard box castle

According to a 2014 study, cats supplied with hiding boxes in their new environment compared to those without a concealing box were less stressed and adapted quicker to the new surroundings, which demonstrates the remarkable benefit of the humble carton box.

Moreover, “hide and perch” boxes are particularly gratifying in shelters and vet clinics; a cardboard box placed on its side allows easy accessibility while the perching spot on the top of a box enables cats to get off the ground, feel more secure, and experience less stress.

6. Boxes With Novel Scents Provide Sensory Enrichment

Simba with homemade foraging box made of fresh and dried leaves and twigs

Sensory stimulation is extremely valuable and enjoyable for cats. Cats exposed to novel scents are much more exploratory and playful. Homemade sensory boxes filled with objects foraged from outdoors like dried leaves, twigs, feathers, catnip, or silvervine, and scrunched up paper, toys, or treats encourages play as well as provides sensory enrichment.

7. Chewing Material

Simba sitting inside a cardboard box

Another quirky reason cats like boxes, certain kitties enjoy shredding boxes into tiny pieces due to the texture of the cardboard. Most common reasons of biting or gnawing on packing boxes are due to boredom, pica, predatory outlet, and teething issues in kittens.

Also Read: The 10 Best Chew Toys for Cats

8. Boxes Offer Secluded Nesting Areas

Solj resting inside double cardboard boxes

Lastly, queens like nesting in cardboard boxes with wool blankets since cartons are instrumental in preserving heat, providing privacy, and reducing prenatal/postnatal stress, which might negatively influence the health, development, and welfare of her offspring.

Conclusion

As cat owners, it’s our responsibility to supply our cats with a fulfilling, relaxed environment, including comfortable sleeping spots. Since cardboard boxes are inexpensive confined spaces that preserve warmth, as well as offer both ambush and hiding opportunities, they’re a great addition to a stress-free, happy cat home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do cats like boxes over beds?

Cats love exploring novel items so when the cardboard box containing the new bed is tossed on the ground, the cat may jump into the box before actually trying the bed. Other cats might not like the texture, smell, or the shape of the bed, turning up their nose in favor of the box.

Since each cat has unique preferences, make the bed appealing by placing it within the right location, making it smell like home, and enticing the cat with treats and praise. If all else fails, place your cat’s new bed inside their favorite box.

Why do cats like squares?

Every cat owner knows how much cats love sitting in boxes, now a citizen science investigation has revealed that felines like to sit in squares that have a similar silhouette as a real box, demonstrating that cats may have a false sense of security by illusory contours.

Why doesn’t my cat like toys?

Each cat has individual tastes, some like playing with all types of toys while others dislike toys altogether and are motivated by distinctive styles of play. Try engaging your cat in other activities like clicker training, bird watching, and cat castle building instead.

Why do cats like boxes that are too small?

Though cats like small boxes and bags for several reasons, safety and security are the main motives. Cats are both prey and predators, and boxes enable them to hunt, hide, and feel safe in an enclosed space.

Why do cats sit in boxes?

Cats have an extraordinary fascination for sitting, resting or sleeping in unexpected places and squeezing themselves into tight places such as small boxes. There’s just something about the confined and comfy space that they find irresistible.

View Sources

Atkinson, T. (2018). Practical Feline Behaviour. Oxfordshire: CAB International. Retrieved April 03, 2022

Care, I. C. (2020, September 01). Module 5 Creating a cat friendly home. International Cat Care Advanced Feline Behaviour for Vet Professionals. UK. Retrieved April 10, 2022

Halls, V. (2018, July 30). Behavioural aspects of caring for an elderly cat. UK. Retrieved April 07, 2022

C. M. Vernooij, L. D. (2019, October 14). The effect of a hiding box on stress levels and body weight in Dutch shelter cats; a randomized controlled trial. (P. One, Compiler) Retrieved April 10, 2022, from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0223492

Sarah L H Ellis, I. R. (2013). AAFP and ISFM Feline Environmental Needs Guidelines. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 219-230. Retrieved April 05, 2022

About Melina Grin

Melina’s love of animals began in childhood, when she would care for sick or stray dogs and cats while dreaming of becoming a Vet. While working in the Veterinary field she found a distinct interest and passion in Small Animal Rehabilitation and Feline Behaviour. Melina is the proud director of Pet Nurture in Sydney, Australia (Unique Mobile Animal Wellness Centre specialising in Cats). Melina is currently studying to become a qualified Veterinary Nurse with a view to progressing to Animal Behaviour Therapy

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