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Why Do Cats Like Boxes?
Cats BehaviorCat Needs

Why Do Cats Like Boxes?

Many cat owners observed how their fluffy pets are totally obsessed with the boxes. And if you didn’t see it in your pets, you undoubtedly saw funny videos which contain this strange and hilarious cat behavior. Let’s dive into this interesting phenomenon and let’s find out why cats like boxes so much.

Explanation of the phenomenon

Scientists explain the love of cats for confined spaces in this theory: in a confined space the animal feels safe - no one will squeeze his paw and step on his tail.

Studies show that cats adapt more easily to a new place if they are given the opportunity to explore the property from a secluded place. Therefore, if you are going to move, prepare a “house” for the cat in advance, at least the same empty box, and put it in the far corner, from where the whole room will be clearly visible.

Interestingly, the hiding place principle works the same for all felines. Many people laughingly said that they saw a lynx in the zoo lying down in a feed cart, or a lion trying to settle in a small barrel. In fact, the animals were just looking for solitude.

a cat peeking out of a pile of boxes
a cat peeking out of a pile of boxes

The Biology of Cats and Boxes

Natural instincts

Most cat owners have been victims of these dangerous nocturnal predators at least once. Such attacks have an interesting feature: Shadowhunters attack silently and with lightning speed - from an ambush. And the box is an excellent location for waiting for prey.

The instinctive desire to climb into a dark, narrow space with one entrance (but certainly not into a carrier!) is not limited to domestic cats. Tigers, panthers, lions, and leopards are powerless before the magic of boxes. This was shown by experiments in zoos with large cats. Among the reasons for the love of wild cats for boxes, among other things, are simple curiosity and a desire to escape from everyday boredom. In addition, big cats like tigers are territorial animals: they zealously monitor the observance of the boundaries of the world subject to them. Perhaps that is why cardboard boxes with clearly defined corners delight these furry control freaks: it is not difficult to protect such a territory.

Senses and Boxes

Cardboard box is the perfect material to bite, sharpen claws on and play with. Therefore, the cat so quickly tears it into pieces. It just feels pleasant for their senses. So in their love for cardboard, all cats are united - do not rush to throw away the packaging, make your pet happy!

Comfort and Safety

Cravings for cardboard shelters may be related to warmth. The fact is that the comfortable temperature of the surrounding space for cats is from 30 to 38 ° C. It is under this regime that animals do not experience either heat or cold.

In ordinary apartments, they can feel cool, so pets strive to lie down on a working laptop or battery and are ready to sunbathe by the window for hours. This also explains the love for boxes: an enclosed space warms up faster due to the temperature of the animal’s body – so the cat will create a suitable microclimate for himself. For these reasons, they like so much to sleep in the box.

a cat sitting in a cardboard box on a wooden floor
a cat sitting in a cardboard box on a wooden floor

The Psychology of Cats and Boxes

Play and Curiosity

This is one of the reasons why cats climb into boxes and crates. Everything that is not immediately visible arouses a burning interest in these animals. Even if there is nothing in the box, the cat will not be upset, but it is quite possible that it will simply take a nap under the canopy of the lid, away from the master's eyes and playful children's hands.

Cats think it's a game

We ourselves generate the love of cats for boxes. Almost every second breeder, seeing the kitten's interest in the box, begins to build a house out of it for the pet.

In playful cats, climbing in and out of the box can mean getting the attention of the owner and inviting him to play together.

Stress and Anxiety

There is a simple explanation for this: in nature, ordinary cats do not live in packs and walk on their own. Seeking compromises and building a serious relationship is new to them. And there is no better place for slow digestion of resentment than a dark and warm box. Social distancing in such a place is easy to maintain, and cats are fine with that.

Feeling of Security

For all their curiosity and activity, cats are shy animals that do not like close attention to their person. Cardboard boxes become for them a place where they can hide from unpleasant sounds or overly intrusive human attention.

Cats are able to sit in the box for hours. Some animals manage to settle down not even in an empty container, but right on the shoes. And for some, the boxes are also a place to store “secrets”. Do not be surprised to find candy wrappers, elastic bands for money, sponges, and washcloths for dishes in a shoe box - favorite artifacts of cats.

To owners, this behavior of a cat may seem strange, but if the owner loves his pet, he must understand the reason for his desire to retire. Suffering from "cute violence", our furry pets seek salvation under beds and in boxes.

Different Types of Boxes and Their Appeal to Cats

Plastic and paper bags

The reason why cats love bags is somewhat different. Oh, this wonderful rustling, reminiscent of the rustle of the game to the hunter. Rustle and move - this is the main function of the bags for the cats.

Grass, bushes, stumps, garden tools, benches... In the wild, or at least in a personal yard, a cat always has a huge number of places to hone the skills of a predator inherent in nature.

In the closed space of the apartment, the animal has to adapt to the conditions created by the owner. There are so many prohibitions among them - do not stir up the laundry, do not climb into the closet, do not walk on the shelves, do not jump on the table, do not hang on the curtains ... But the cat needs an active lifestyle, she needs to jump, climb, explore the space and, of course, to hunt.

In the absence of a real game, the rustling package becomes an alternative. You can climb into it (especially nice if before that there was something fragrant and attractive in it, such as sausage), you can nibble it and drive it around the kitchen, playing and fighting, and the hanging bag can be used as a hammock. The temperature in the bag is slightly higher than the environment, and this is also pleasant for the cat. 

In addition, the “ratter enemy” also answers - it sticks to the wool, creating static electricity, and it can even “grab” by the paw if it gets tangled in the handle. In general, an interactive toy anywhere. 


In the end, we can conclude that cats’ love for boxes has multiple reasoning. Not only instinctual, psychological but even biological reasons make cats a box’s big fans. Cats hide and sleep there, cats play with the boxes, cats use it as the ambush space, and we can go on the list. And we hope that when you found out the reasons for this love you will be more understanding and more positive about such strange cat behavior. After all, the main and most important reason is that it makes your cat happy.

Frequently asked questions

Why do cats like sitting in cardboard boxes so much?

Scientists explain the love of cats for confined spaces in this theory: in a confined space the animal feels safe - no one will squeeze his paw and step on his tail. It provides warmth and has a pleasant texture for a cat. Box helps to relieve stress if happened something traumatizing or unpleasant for a cat. Also, it is a perfect ambush space. Seems like a jackpot for a cat.

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