Cats love boxes. You've seen the viral videos of cats hopping in boxes — even ones they can't exactly fit into properly. Your own cat probably spends a lot of time hanging out inside boxes, too. It's even been proven that cats are happier when homes have cardboard boxes.
But why do cats like boxes? From safety to entertainment, boxes are a cat's best friend. Here's why you should have more than one in your home!
Why Do Cats Like Boxes?
Boxes Provide a Sense of Security
Cardboard boxes can become a coping mechanism for cats and are known to provide comfort. In a study done by the University of Utrecht, researchers split 19 cats arriving at an animal shelter into two groups. One of the groups was given boxes during their acclimation period. It was found that the cats hiding in boxes "showed significantly less stress" than the cats without a box. They also adapted to their new environment at a faster pace.
Cats are more likely to run away when they are faced with stressful situations. Cats love to hide, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A box will allow them to escape into their own little world. Simply toss one of their favorite CBD cat treats inside the box and they'll be in there for an eternity!
My cat's favorite box (yes, I have multiple for him) is a very narrow box he has to practically slide into on his stomach. This one is most likely the most comforting for him.
Their Instincts Are Kicking In
Your cat isn't the only one that likes boxes. Just look! Leopards, lynxes, lions, bobcats, and tigers are immediately drawn to boxes, too!
Just like their wild ancestors, cats are instinctually drawn to tight or enclosed spaces. When your cat is inside a cardboard box, they know nothing can sneak up on them from the side and they have direct sight of anything approaching them.
Boxes aren't just safe for cats — they also help them hunt effectively. Cats use boxes to stay out of sight of their prey. When they get close enough, the cat will jump out of the box and attack. Stalking prey is normal kitty behavior, even if it's just a feathery mouse plush infused or coated with catnip.
Cats Require Warmth
Cats sleep up to 20 hours a day. Why not provide them with a cozy and secure box for them to snooze in? Some people will throw a blanket inside a box and some just keep the box bare bones. Either way, most cats will pick the cardboard over a cat bed or cat tree!
So why a box? Cats are most comfortable when their temperature is 86 to 97 degrees. Your home is probably not kept that hot! But a cat can make themselves warmer by curling up inside a box with their favorite blankets and toys. For this reason, boxes are just a comfortable place to hang out.
Cats Enjoy Playing in Them
Hiding and sleeping are not the only uses for a box. Most cats also enjoy the fun activities that come with boxes, like jumping out of them, jumping in them, rolling around in them, and scratching them.
Cardboard is often a cat's material of choice for scratching and stretching. My own cat will often incorporate it into his playtime by bringing toys over to his box, jumping inside, and then swatting them from within the box. This was made even more entertaining for him when the toys are under a box's cardboard flaps. My kitty will also drop toys inside so he can play with them while inside some of his larger cardboard boxes.
Related Articles: Cat Exercise: Different Ways to Play with Your Cat
Preparing a Box for Your Cat
There are a few safety measures to keep in mind when picking out a cardboard box for your cat. Make sure you take any staples out to avoid your cat getting punctured or scratched. Remove rubber bands and strings, which cats may swallow. This could lead to life-threatening organ blockage. Check that all tape is also taken off of the box you provide your cat, since cats like the taste of adhesives and may swallow tape and plastic.
You can also jazz up cardboard boxes for your cat! Try adding some soft insulation to a cardboard box, putting soft materials around some of the surfaces. This can make the box even warmer for your cat, making it extra comfy and cozy!
Another fun idea is adding holes. Cut out holes they can peek out of, making sure they are big enough that they won't get their head stuck or scratch themselves on the sides. Cats like to spy from inside the box, play with toys you dangle outside the holes, or even crawl in and out of bigger holes. This can make the box a bit more dynamic.
If your cat likes to scratch cardboard, try placing a cardboard cat scratcher on the bottom of one of their boxes. They will love hopping inside the box and scratching the cardboard inside.
Safety Tips to Keep in Mind
Your cat enjoys boxes because of their texture and the enclosed space they provide. A box can often keep your kitty out of other spots in the house, like dresser drawers and laundry bins full of clean clothes. Of course, we all know that if cats feel like sleeping in those spots, they most definitely will!
Make sure your cat doesn't find their way into the refrigerator! While some cats are afraid of the cold wind and noises of the fridge, other cats may be intrigued by the confined space it provides. Some cats will even learn to open it, so definitely keep an eye on your cat in the kitchen!
Sometimes cats will also crawl into a washer or dryer. This is another small, dark space that's sometimes also warm. This is obviously very dangerous, since you may not notice a slumbering cat before loading them and turning them on. Always keep your washer and dryer doors closed when they're not in use.
You should also keep watch of other dark, small spaces. This includes your chimney flue and the ceiling. I once worked at a shelter where a cat saw a hole in the ceiling and decided to hide up there!
Final Thoughts - Why Do Cats Like Boxes?
Felines love boxes. Boxes make them feel safe, secure, and warm. Boxes also provide a fun new spot for your favorite kitten to play and hunt. A box or two will simply make your kitty happier!