Bengal cat playing in a cardboard box.

Why Do Cats Like Boxes?

5 min read

Owners are constantly baffled when they buy their cat a cool new toy and they're much more interested in the box it came in! But why do cats love boxes so much? Keep reading to find out why.

It’s a widely known fact that cats love boxes. To them, no toy in the world, no matter how expensive or fancy it may be, compares to a simple cardboard box. It’s a phenomenon that baffles most cat owners, especially when they’ve just purchased a great new bed or cool toy, and their cat seems to prefer the packaging it came in.

In this article we explore why cats like boxes and tell you all about why they make the perfect snoozing and hunting ground for your cat.


Why do cats like boxes?

There are lots of reasons that cats love boxes, but the main one is because they’re confined, enclosed spaces. Cats are ambush predators and finding confined places where they can hide, hunt prey and feel safe and warm is an instinctive behaviour. Snug cardboard boxes fit the bill perfectly.


Boxes are safe

Cats get comfort and security from enclosed spaces, which is why they love spending time in cardboard boxes. Cats use boxes as hiding places where predators can’t sneak up on them from the side or behind. If your cat is in a box, any “intruders” like prey, humans or other pets have to come directly into their field of vision, meaning nothing can surprise them.

And cats like boxes because they help to reduce stress and offer a safe zone where your cat can observe and not be seen. This is ideal for cats as their reaction to stressful situations is often to run and hide. Cats don’t have in-built conflict resolution strategies, so they much prefer to hide from their problems. The safety of the private, enclosed space is another possible answer to why do cats like boxes.

They help cats to adapt

A recent study conducted by the University of Utrecht recently discovered another reason why cats love boxes. The study was performed on a group of shelter cats, and around half were assigned boxes and the other half were not.

The research discovered that the cats with the boxes actually recovered faster and adapted to their environment quicker. This shows that boxes are incredibly beneficial for cats to help deal with change! Read our guide to cat anxiety for more tips on treating it.


Cardboard is a great insulator

Another reason why cats love boxes is because they’re great for warmth! Not only is cardboard an amazing insulator, but the small space that boxes offer encourages your cat to curl up and relax, making it a comfy, warm space. The ideal temperature for cats to be comfortable is around 37°C, so being warm is very important for your feline.


Cats are just curious

Cats are notoriously curious creatures, so it should come as no surprise that whenever you buy something new they make a beeline for it to investigate. Not only does the new item smell different, but your cat is also curious to see what the purpose of the new item is in their home. If you buy an item that comes in a box, don’t be surprised to see your cat rubbing itself around it and having a good look!


They make great places to sleep

Another reason why cats like boxes is because they are a great place to sleep. Cats spend up to 18 hours every day sleeping, so finding the perfect spot is important.

Where you may see a simple cardboard box, your cat sees a safe, luxury cave that promises warmth and protection. We recommend providing your cat with a box in your home to give them a safe space for them to escape to.

It’s all about texture

Another reason why cats love boxes so much is the texture. Cardboard is the perfect texture for your cat to bite and scratch, making them great fun to play with. Many owners find that cats love boxes purely to bite and chew, and soon shred them to bits. To your cat, a plain old box makes a really interesting and fun toy that can keep them entertained for days on end.


Boxes not just for house cats!

It may surprise you to learn that big cats share lots of the same characteristics as your pet cat. When big cats living in wildlife reserves and zoos were given cardboard boxes, they had just as much fun as your cat would! They were seen jumping in and out of the boxes, sitting in them and generally having a great time.

There are so many reasons that can explain why cats think boxes are irresistible, but largely it comes down to the fact that they are enclosed spaces.