Although completely baffling to us, if you have spent any time around cats, you are likely well acquainted with their seemingly endless fascination with boxes. Place a box anywhere in your home and you will find it quickly commandeered by your feline. Just what is it about the humble box that turns even the most aloof kitty into a strange, box adoring puss? Cats’ love of boxes is not an isolated occurrence for you alone, and thankfully we have some answers for you.

Cats want to feel safe and secure

When in the wild, cats spent much of their time hiding, either in wait for prey, sleeping, or grooming themselves and just watching the world go by. With enclosed areas around them, they feel much safer and more able to defend themselves from predators or other cats coming into their territory. While inside a box, anything approaching your pet, including you, will need to pass directly into their field of vision, giving up the element of surprise, and giving kitty the option to stay or flee.

Boxes are stress reducers

When a cat is stressed out, their first reaction is generally to run and hide somewhere they feel safe and cannot be seen by anyone. A cat’s answer to any problem is to hide until it goes away, so turning tail and running for the security of the nearest box makes perfect sense to Fluffy! The privacy they enjoy from inside the confines of boxes also helps to keep them relaxed.

Boxes can help them adapt to new situations

Studies have been carried out on shelter cats that give weight to this theory. In one such study, 19 cats were divided into two groups, with one group receiving boxes and the other group receiving nothing. The group who had the boxes adapted much quicker to the high-stress environment of the shelter.

This is the same principle as bringing home a new cat. The first thing they do is look for somewhere to hide. Providing them with a box gives them a private domain they can turn to on their own terms.

A cat comfortable in cardboard box

There are many reasons why cats love boxes.

The texture of a box is appealing

While boxes may feel rough to us and smell funny, to cats it is their perfect paradise. With boxes they can:

  • Scratch away to help sharpen their claws
  • Chew on the edges and corners to alleviate boredom and fulfill their natural instinct to gnaw on something
  • Mangle them into some unrecognizable shape that appears to provide kitty with hours of amusement
  • Use the scent pads in their feet to leave their smell inside

Boxes help to keep cats warm

The normal body temperature of a cat is about 20 degrees higher than humans. When a cat is curled up inside of a box, the cardboard helps to retain their body heat, keeping them nice and toasty warm. Even though cats love the warmth, make sure you never place a box too close to any heat source for safety!

What kind of box will my cat love?

The simple answer to this question is any type at all. Cats’ love for boxes seemingly has no preference over size and shape, instead, investigate each box they encounter with the same thorough curiosity. Although size and shape do not seem to matter, most kitties do seem to prefer a box made from cardboard over the thinner paperboard. However, in a pinch, even those will do.

Cats’ love of boxes isn’t that weird

If a cat can fit in it, they will definitely sit in it. A box is actually quite normal in comparison to some other places cats have been known to rest…

  • the kitchen or bathroom sink
  • on top of curtain rods
  • the linen closet
  • on top of stereos or televisions
  • the top of the refrigerator or dryer
  • kitchen cabinet tops

If you have spent a ton of money on toys and scratching posts, only to see your kitty turn up her nose and saunter off in a huff, the answer to your dilemma may just come in the form of a square. Like a toddler who prefers to bang on pot rather than play with a $100 doll, cats are rather simple creatures with simple needs. Leave a few boxes lying around for kitty castles and sit back to watch the fun!