Ever notice how housecats seem to marvel at the sight of a plain cardboard box? They are keen to sneak into the empty box you probably planned to throw out. Why are cats so obsessed with boxes, anyway? The answer is pretty simple. Cats love confined areas.
They feel safe in a closed and cozy space. This is also why they might be under your bed or hiding in the various crevices of your house.
It does not matter how many beds or sofas you buy for your cat; nothing feels cozier than a cardboard box for your feline friend. But this is not the only reason.
Let’s take a look at 6 reasons why cats love boxes:
1. Feeling of Safety
Cats love spending time in enclosed spaces. They love cardboard boxes due to their fear of being exposed. The box hides them from predators and prey alike, which is why they feel safe.
Cats are introverted creatures who may get stressed. Being inside a cardboard box can help them to reduce their anxiety and hide.
Cats do not have any conflict resolution instincts. In the face of conflict, they tend to run away and hide from their problems instead of facing them. Cardboard boxes provide them this refuge.
2. Predatory Instincts
Cats in the wild are hunters who stalk their prey. They tend to hide and ambush their prey from a hiding place. Cats prefer to sit inside boxes with their face in the direction of the opening, to better observe their surroundings.
They need to be ready for any surprises that may come their way, so they can pounce. And for the sake of the game, their prey is your toe.
While they do not need to hunt for food anymore, their instincts remain intact and it is just a fun game for them! If you want to entertain them, try laser pointers, feathers, or any toy to encourage them to pounce.
3. Coziness and Heat
Boxes are cozy and warm for cats. Cardboard is a great insulator of heat and cats find optimum comfort by curling up inside them.
It is such a waste to buy a fancy bed for your cat. Because they would rather spend more time in the box the bed came in.
It makes more sense to throw an old blanket inside a box because they will find that to be more comfortable.
It is also a fact that cats prefer a warmer temperature than humans. Cats find ultimate comfort in 32-45 degrees Celsius.
This makes sense because you will find your cat rolling around in the scorching sunlight or cozying up to any appliances that emit heat. I often find my tabby behind the freezer near the wires, where it is the hottest. It also explains why they sit on your computer, for the warmth!
They need to look for these places because most people’s houses are usually air-conditioned to be in a range of 20 to 26 degrees Celsius. Which is far too cold for our feline pals.
So, inside a cardboard box, they find the warmth they need. And it is not just limited to boxes, you will find your cat hiding in bags, suitcases, drawers, and cabinets as well! All for the same reason.
Cats love scratching objects or surfaces with texture. Whenever you walk into someone’s house and notice ripped-up curtains and sofas, you can guess they are a cat owner.
They love the feeling of sinking their claws into cardboard because of the texture.
On top of that, cats leave their scent on things by scratching them. They have scent ducts in their paw pads which release the cat’s distinct smell when they scratch. This basically means they have marked their territory.
Also, cats love to chew boxes. Many cats love chewing and scratching cardboard boxes as well as sitting in them. A cardboard box can keep them occupied for days on end.
At the same time, these boxes save your sofas, sheets, and curtains from the wrath of your cat’s paws. At least for a few days.
5. For Sleep
Cats spend a majority of the day sleeping. This is why they love boxes as their ultimate sleeping spot. A cat will explore the vicinity upon arrival to look for the optimum sleeping spot which is secluded, warm, and confined for the cat to feel comfortable.
Have you ever noticed when you are in bed, that your cat finds its way under your blanket? It is because they love the comfort and warmth under the sheets. My cats love to squeeze into the crevice under my thigh when I am working on my computer in bed. This is because they feel safe and protected.
This is why cats love to sleep inside boxes and it is recommended for cat owners to have a box or two in the house for the cat. Where we see plain cardboard, easily disposable; they see a luxurious nap nook.
6. Helps to Adapt and Reduce Stress
Studies have shown that it is actually beneficial for a cat’s mental health to find refuge in a cardboard box. Since cardboard boxes are associated with comfort and shelter, many newly adopted cats find their transition to a new home easier than a cardboard box.
According to a study, it has been proven that cat behavior is heavily impacted by cardboard boxes. The study discovered that shelter cats who were given boxes found it much easier to adapt to new environments, in contrast to cats without boxes.
They reached the conclusion that hiding boxes are essential in helping a cat cope with new situations.
A cat will arrive at a new place, explore its surroundings, and need to go back to a familiar place for reassurance. This familiar place is usually the box they were transported in.
New owners are recommended to set up a cardboard box with adequate breathing holes. The enclosed space and warmth will help reduce the stress of moving into a new home.
All Cats Love Boxes
Apparently, wild cats and big cats are also lovers of boxes! Who knew?
As it turns out, big cats and house cats are cousins with similar behavior traits. A study carried out in wildlife reserves and zoos showed that lions, tigers, and cheetahs LOVE cardboard boxes.
They treated these boxes no differently than their domesticated counterparts. Observers reported that they jumped in and out of the boxes, scratched, and bit them just the same.
They even spent some time sitting in the boxes. Solidifying the “if I fits, I sits” discipline of the feline family.
If you have noticed that your cat is especially cunning and hides in tiny spaces, it is best to keep the washing machine, refrigerator, and chimney openings closed.
These places can be very attractive for a cat and result in them getting trapped. There are far too many memes of cats stuck in washer-dryers for us to forget this little factoid.
How To Cat-proofing Cardboard Boxes?
Since your cat is obsessed with boxes and you cannot do anything about it, you might as well make sure they are not hurting themselves in it.
Here are a few ways to ensure that the boxes for your cats are safe:
- Make sure there are no staples or pins in the boxes. The steel could injure your little buddy, especially if he decides to chew the corners.
- Remove all straps, strings, rubber bands, or twine in the box. Some cardboard boxes come with handles, which can get tangled around your cat’s throat and choke them. Strings or rubber bands can be ingested by your cat and entangle their intestines. These can lead to some serious cuts and bruises as well if left unnoticed.
- Remove all sorts of plastic from the box. Plastic sheets or bubble wrap have the potential to suffocate your cat if they are playing unsupervised.
- Many cats love the scent of glue or adhesive. They feel inclined to chew tape or lick dried glue. This is dangerous for them as it could potentially poison them.
By now it is obvious that cats love small spaces. According to the internet, “cats are liquid” but, they have a specific type of flexible body build.
This allows them to squeeze into the tiniest of cracks to find warmth and to hide. They are masters of illusion and disappearance, who love the feeling of confined places.