Why Do Cats Like Boxes So Much? 4 Key Reasons

Cats like boxes…a lot, it’s an indisputable fact.

Buy them a fancy bed or an exciting new cat toy and minutes later you’ll find them sat in the box it came in. So why do cats like boxes so much?

This article explains the 4 key reasons why cats are magnetised towards any and every box, here is a quick summary:

  1. Boxes feel safe and secure
  2. They are warm
  3. Curiosity
  4. They provide a great place to sleep

1. Boxes Feel Safe & Secure

Cats love tight spaces, being in a small box makes them feel safe, secure and protected. This is because domestic cats are small predators so instinctively are constantly on the lookout for larger predators who may pose a threat.

Sitting in a box allows them to relax much more than they can out in the open, they only have to keep an eye on the box opening instead of being aware of their entire surroundings. This allows them to feel that they cannot be seen which helps reduce stress and calm them down.

A famous study conducted by the University of Utrecht compared 2 groups of shelter cats. In one group each cat had a cardboard box in their enclosure, in the other group none of the cats had a cardboard box.

Shelter cats often experience a lot of stress when living in shelters due to unfamiliarity with their surroundings, having strange living cats in close proximity to them and being enclosed. This study looked at how having access to a cardboard box helped reduce stress.

What they found was remarkable, the cats who had a box were able to relax and recover much more quickly than the cats who didn’t have a box. So if you are thinking of adopting a cat or you have a cat who experienced some sort of stress, such as a new baby or a new pet coming into the household, then leaving a few boxes around the house is a great way of providing them with a way to deal with the stress.

Box alternative
If you don’t like leaving scruffy cardboard boxes around your house then a fun alternative is a cat tunnel – cats love hiding in them and running through them, it is particularly entertaining to watch cats playing with them if you have more than one cat.

2. They Are Warm

Your cat’s body maintains a much higher temperature than yours (due to their desert origins) a normal temperature for a cat is between 100.5 – 102.5 degrees.  This means that cats are much more comfortable in hotter temperatures as maintaining their body temperature requires a lot of energy, particularly during the winter, so they will naturally seek out warm spots such as radiators, rays of sun or your lap.

Corrugated cardboard is a cheap material (hence it is used for packaging) which is made from fibres of wood which are condensed down and shaped into shallow grooves which are then enclosed. This traps air inside the cardboard making it a great insulator, so understandably your cat likes boxes because they help them preserve heat and energy.

3. Curiosity

Ever noticed that every time you bring a new item home your cat has to investigate what it is? It is no secret that cats are inherently curious creatures so when something new arrives in their territory they need to know about it.

Items which come from outside your cat’s home bring new and interesting smells with them which cats are compelled to check out. The same is true of any new box or container, it must be sniffed, touched, jumped into and maybe even slept in, boxes also have the added benefit of being great for sharpening claws on.

4. Boxes Are Great For Sleeping In

Domestic cats can sleep for up to 80% of the day. If you’re sleeping for 20 hours a day you want to be certain that your bedroom is secure and safe and that your bed is warm and comfy, the same is true for cats.

As we’ve mentioned above the fact that cats feel safe in a box allows them to happily relax and sleep in one and the insulating properties of a cardboard box mean they are ideal for sleeping in as your cat won’t wake up feeling cold. Cardboard is also comfortable as the air trapped inside them creates a nice cushion for your cat to sleep on.

If you are aware of any stray cats in your local area it is a great idea to leave a cardboard box outside, put a blanket in there or a bit of extra warmth and ensure that you put it in a sheltered location such as in a shed or under a garage awning so that it doesn’t get soaked, they may not thank you for it but this will allow them to get a comfortable sleep and feel a bit more safe and secure which will do them a world of good!


So there you have it, the 4 main reasons why cats love boxes more than the new cat bed you bought for them!

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