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Why Do Cats Adore Boxes?

If you are a cat parent, you must have taken note of your pet’s obsession with boxes. You may often wonder why your cat loves boxes so much in the first place. You can shower your cat with as many toys as money can buy but they will still keep returning to their beloved box. Why does that happen?
Researchers have spent a lot of time trying to explain the quirky behavior in cats. You can read on to know more.

  • Cats Love to Feel Safe and Secure

Just like any other animal, our feline friends also have their own defense mechanism against fear. Confined spaces such as cardboard boxes give cats a sense of security. Almost all felines take note of what is happening in their surroundings including domesticated cats.

Our feline pets think that boxes are the perfect place to hide in if there are any signs of danger nearby. Also, cats are predatory in nature. Domesticated cats may not feel the need to hunt but their primal instincts can often take over.

Moreover, cats and their fun behavior around boxes can be really fun to observe. From time to time, they will pounce out of their favorite spaces to get hold of a toy.

  • Cats Get Pleasure Out of Boxes

Research has shown that our cats derive pleasure from these cardboard boxes. In fact, cats love boxes so much that they can even reduce stress in them.

Animal Planet’s “America’s Cutest Pets” series did a great job explaining the love felines have for boxes. The series stated that felines loved coming in touch with the inner walls of boxes. The close touch results in the production of endorphins which are similar to morphine. Endorphins give cats great pleasure and can also reduce stress.

A Dutch Ethnologist conducted a test to determine whether boxes played any role in alleviating stress in cats. For the study, she divided some cats into two categories. She exposed one group to the boxes. Meanwhile, the other group was kept away from them. At the end of the experiment, the first group exhibited much less stress as compared to the second. The second group took a lot more time to come around.

  • Cats Love the Texture of Cardboard Boxes

 Contrary to what you think, cats also love cardboard boxes for their texture. Our feline friends can easily bite and scratch the texture. If you bring home a box, you may find that your pet has torn it to shreds.

For cats, boxes serve as a fun toy. They can treat them whichever way they like. If you have a busy life and can’t make out time for your cat, you can bring home a cardboard box to keep them entertained.

  • Cats Can Be Anti-Social

As compared to other animals, cats do not have any special conflict resolution mechanisms. As a result, they will often avoid problems altogether. Boxes can serve as a safe zone for cats who do not want to face their problems. Cats will often find shelter in boxes to escape situations that may give rise to feelings of anxiety, hostility, and unwanted attention.

  • The Smell of Cardboard Boxes Can Stimulate Owners

In early times, cats lived and hunted in the wild. Forests have trees and paper is made from tree pulp. Meanwhile, paper is also used to make cardboard.

The smell of cardboard can remind cats of forests. Therefore, these boxes may stimulate cats who miss being in the wild.

  • Boxes Can Enrich the Minds of Cats

Cats do not like feeling bored. They are always on the lookout for a stimulating environment. When bored, cats can become aggressive. They can also become tired and depressed. In these times, cardboard boxes can come to their rescue. As cats learn their way around boxes, their minds also get stimulated.

  • Cats Love Places Where They Can Fit

Cats have their quirks which is what makes them so adorable in the first place. They will spy on their owners, stare at a wall for hours, and even spend hours curled up in a small space. Besides boxes, cats also love curling up in small spaces including bathroom sink, shopping bags, egg cartons, bowls, shoes, and even coffee mugs.

  • Domesticated Cats Get the Chance to Feel Like Wild Animals

As mentioned earlier, cats are natural predators. They spend hours in the wild stalking their prey and ambushing them when the moment presents itself. Unlike their wild counterparts, domesticated cats do not get to venture out as much. Even though our feline pets may love eating tasty and healthy food out of cans, the instinct to hunt is still there.

If your cat spots a cardboard box, they use it as an opportunity to be wild indoors. They can jump out of boxes anytime and run around. These adorable quirks also serve as a form of entertainment for their owners. 

  • Cats Learn to Adapt

Recently, the University of Utrecht tried to determine the reason behind cats’ obsession with boxes. For the study, the researchers divided a group of shelter cats into two categories. Half of the cats were assigned boxes. Meanwhile, the other half did not get any boxes.

The researchers found out that the first group of cats with boxes adapted to the environment easily. As compared to the second group, they were quicker and recovered faster. Thus, boxes can be of great help in teaching cats how to adapt to change in their surroundings.

  • Cats Have Predatory Instincts

Cats are natural predators. Domesticated cats, which haven’t spent any time in the wild, are also prone to these primal instincts. As a result, they are constantly trying to get an edge over their predators. They believe that hiding in an enclosed space such as a box will give them a strategic advantage over anyone who might hunt them.

If your cat keeps wandering off to a box, don’t be worried. It is a natural instinct and they love the sense of control they get out of hiding in a box. In a house full of different items, boxes serve as the ideal hideout places for our pets.

  • Cats Are Curious Creatures

It is well-known that cats are curious in nature. Whenever you bring home a new item, your cat will go out and investigate the item for itself. The cat will also try to determine its purpose in your house. When you bring an item in a cardboard box, your cat will naturally go out and rub it against the box or sniff the box to find out its purpose.

  • Comfort Zones

If you have ever seen a lazy person, you will know how much he or she loves napping or not doing anything else for that matter. However, laziness in humans doesn’t even hold a candle to lazy behavior in cats. Felines enjoy sleeping, especially during the day. Cats in the jungle tend to sleep for more than half the day. Some can even sleep for 15-18 hours.

Cats love having fun and playing around but they also adore some precious alone time. This behavior in cats is the reason why you will often find them taking a nap or resting in their favorite space – a cardboard box.

  • Boxes Keep Them Warm

We all love feeling cozy and warm. Our feline friends are no different. In 2014, a post-doctoral cat researcher revealed that an enclosed space such as a box confers cats with an impressive feeling of warmth. According to the researcher, cats can achieve their thermoneutral zone within the confines of the box. The thermoneutral zone implies that cats need not spend any extra energy to stay warm.

37°C is the temperature at which our feline friends are most comfortable. Cardboard boxes are great insulators and can help cats hold on to the warmth around their bodies.


  • Why Do Cats Like Cardboard Boxes But Dislike Carriers?

Small and cozy spaces make cats feel warm and secure. As we know, cat carriers and kennels are also small and dark. However, many cats abhor these spaces. Here is why.

Cats are intelligent animals and have great memories. As a result, they can easily think back to the time they had to sit in the carrier. They might have sat in the carrier for a trip to the vet. Thus, if a kennel or a carrier serves as a reminder for a bad memory, then your cat will most likely avoid it.

  • Is a Cardboard Box Safe For Your Cat?

Cats enjoy the texture of cardboard boxes. Consequently, they love to chew and scratch these boxes to their heart’s content. According to researchers, cats have scent glands on their toe pads which can leave a signature on the boxes. It is a lot like marking their territory.

A cardboard box can keep your cat occupied for hours. It is just hours of pure entertainment. Also, these boxes can help ease anxiety in our pets. When our pets get over-stimulated or too tired, they can use the cardboard box to charge up.

Boxes are safe spaces. However, make sure to keep them away from heaters or high foot-traffic spaces. Check the boxes for any items that may hurt your cat. Staples or tape can cause harm to cats since they tend to rub against things.

  • Is There Any Such Thing as Right or Wrong Size of a Box?

No, there is no right or wrong size when it comes to cardboard boxes. However, cats may get bored of these boxes easily. You can reinvigorate your cat’s interest in the cardboard box in a few simple steps. For instance, you can spread some catnip around the box. You can also surround the box with clothing items that bear your scent.

  • Can Boxes Make Them Feel Isolated?

For many cats, running away from their problems and finding shelter in the confines of a box is the best solution. Unlike humans, cats do not have the power of speech and cannot talk through their problems.

However, spending too much time inside a box can make a cat feel isolated. Thus, cat parents should make sure to shower their pets with love when they are out of the box.

To Sum Up:

Cats often prefer cardboard boxes to expensive gifts and toys. When you bring home gifts for cats, you may notice that your cat loves the box more than the actual gift. The previously mentioned points explore why cats love boxes so much. Boxes offer them a sense of much-needed warmth and make them feel safe and secure. Boxes can also help reduce stress and anxiety in cats. For natural predators like cats, boxes are the best source of entertainment.

Owing to their busy lives, cat parents often do not have much time in their hands to devote to their cats. Cardboard boxes can come to their rescue in these situations. Before allowing their pets to play with a box, cat owners must take certain necessary precautions.

If you are a cat parent, make sure to rid your box of unnecessary debris. Cats have the habit of rubbing against things. If you leave any harmful item in the box, your cat can get injured. If you are thinking of painting the box in your cat’s favorite color, make sure to use non-toxic paint.

So, what are you waiting for then? Unlike expensive toys, cardboard boxes can help you save money and keep your cat entertained at the same time. You can also get your hands on these boxes easily. Get a couple of boxes for your cat today!

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