Why Do Cats Like Boxes?

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If you’ve ever left an empty box lying around the house, you may have turned around to find your cat having a great time inside it. And let’s not fail to mention the many cat videos online that feature frisky felines playing inside boxes.

Whether you own cats or not, you’re probably already aware of the fact that they love boxes. But why do cats like boxes and similar objects so much?

Instincts Toward Safety and Security

Boxes are confined spaces that appear safe to cats on an instinctual level. The same types of spaces in the wild would be attractive to a cat who’s trying to get away from a predator or who’s trying his best to hunt his prey without being seen.

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In addition to being able to hide and feeling safe and secure, the inside of a box is a great way to prevent becoming prey because a predator is unable to sneak up behind a cat and take him by surprise. Plus, the sides of the box prevent sneak attacks from those directions as well. If any other animal wanted to get the cat, he’d have to approach from the front, which means the cat would be able to see him and either fight back or try to get away.

While sitting in a box, a cat can also comfortably watch the world without being seen. If something of interest passes by, whether it’s a prey animal in the wild or a fun toy in someone’s home, the cat can jump out at a moment’s notice before quickly retreating back to his safe spot.

An Ideal Place to Sleep

Considering how much cats sleep every day, it’s no surprise that they want to be certain they have a place to rest without having to worry about their safety, and a box is a great option. In addition to protecting a cat from predators and sneak attacks, a box is an ideal spot for a nap because it’s cozy and covered, providing shelter and security.

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Stress Reduction

Having a box to hide in can actually help a cat reduce his stress levels. For example, if you bring a new kitty home for the first time, providing him with a box to hide in could reduce his anxiety and help him get used to his new home more quickly.

The initial reaction of most stressed felines is to hide and essentially withdraw until they feel it is safe to come out. When given a place to hide, such as a box, cats can cope with stressors and environmental changes better. Think about wild cats that retreat to caves, dens, and treetops and then apply that behavior to your pet cat, who isn’t much different.

Also, because cats resolve conflicts by basically running away from them and avoiding them, a box is a great place where unwanted attention, hostility, and anxiety can simply go away.

Staying Warm

If a box is quite small, a cat won’t hesitate to climb in, curl up, and relax. And while this may seem uncomfortable to you, it’s actually just right for the cat because this is one way that he can keep warm by preserving body heat. Corrugated cardboard, in particular, happens to be a good insulator, which may explain why your cat especially enjoys climbing into cardboard boxes.

Take Advantage of Your Cat’s Love of Boxes

Don’t get annoyed if your kitty has an affinity for boxes. Instead, use it as an opportunity to provide your cat with a really affordable toy that he’ll enjoy. Toss a towel or a pillow inside his favorite box and place it near a window so that he’ll have a quiet, warm, and safe place to sleep.

If you want, you can also get creative by flipping the box upside down and cutting holes along the sides and on the top. When your cat hides inside, you can tempt him with toys that he can try to grab through the holes.

Some handy cat owners have even built kitty condos by attaching cardboard boxes to one another and cutting out holes that allow a cat to travel through his own “fortress of solitude.”

So the next time your cat is eyeing up a box to jump into, let him. After all, he’s just following his instincts and having fun.