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If you’re fortunate enough to own a cat, you’ve undoubtedly seen your cat play with cardboard boxes. Cats have an odd attraction to boxes, which they use as hiding places, strategic sneak attack positions, and temporary beds. You’ve undoubtedly pondered from time to time, “why do cats like boxes?”

Cats enjoy boxes because they create a sense of security, serve as excellent hunting hideouts, keep them warm, and are novel and intriguing additions to your house. The enigmatic relationship between cats and boxes is an intriguing subject to investigate.

Why Do Cats Like Boxes – Reasons

Some of the reasons why cats like boxes are as follows:

Boxes Make Excellent Hideouts for Hunting

Boxes provide concealment for cats, allowing them to hide from their prey and catch them off guard.

If you live with numerous cats, you’ve probably seen one cat hide in a box, waiting for an unsuspecting second cat to pass by. Boxes are excellent for sneaking up on other cats and unsuspecting ankles.

Cats Feel Safe in Boxes

Boxes are surrounded by four walls, making it more difficult for another animal to sneak up on them.

The proximity of a box may even remind cats of how they felt when they were kittens with their mothers.  This can assist in reducing tension and stress.

Indeed, a study of clicker training in shelter cats found that when cats were supplied with boxes, their stress levels appeared to decrease. Additionally, the scientists discovered that when cats were deprived of shelter, they would flip over their litter boxes in order to conceal themselves beneath them.

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This implies that if you’re introducing a cat into your house for the first time, having a cardboard box on hand may be beneficial. If your cat is greeted with a box, he may feel immediately at ease and considerably less agitated.

Cats’ fascination in boxes is not limited to three-dimensional constructions. Smith organized a citizen science article in 2021, in which she invited members of the public (and their cats) to participate in the experiment.

The study, which appeared in the Applied Animal Behavior Science journal, investigated whether cats will sit inside a Kanizsa contour, a rectangle formed by taped-off corners on a floor. They found out that they would sit even in 2D boxes! 

They Help Maintain Cats’ Warmth

Boxes can assist in keeping cats warm. The typical body temperature of cats is between 99.5°F and 102.5°F. Cardboard can act as an insulator, allowing them to retain their body heat. 

When cats are outside, they want this insulation, since boxes may also give protection from the weather. Even if your cat spends all of its time indoors, he or she still has an innate need for shelter.

The Box Is Mysterious

The novelty factor of a box may be enough to peak your cat’s interest.

Cats like exploring their environment, which is why they may become excited when you bring anything new into the house, whether it’s a toy, a shopping bag, or a box. They are in charge of thoroughly researching new sites, including assessing if they fit inside your new box.

This “new” component might also explain why cats favor paper and bags. A fresh crumpled piece of paper or bag may be rather enticing, since it opens up new possibilities for investigation.

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Large Cats, Too, Take Pleasure in Boxes

You may be surprised to learn that even large cats, such as your pet cat, adore boxes.

This indicates that cats’ affinity with boxes is entirely innate.

Big Cat Rescue photographed their colossal creatures in response to the placing of countless big cardboard boxes across their sanctuaries. The huge cats acted identically as a domestic cat.

This includes a leopard dozing in a box and tigers using the box as a toy during sneak attacks and fun.

How Can You Help Make Boxes More Secure and Inviting?

While nothing is wrong with you giving boxes to your cat, there are a few steps you can take to make them a little safer. Before giving a box for your cat, check for any remaining staples or tape that may become caught in his or her fur.

Consider positioning the box on a firm place to avoid it toppling over. This means that a box on the floor may be preferable to one above a cat tree. If your cat is fearful, keep the box out of high-traffic areas.

You could even place some soft blankets and one of your cat’s favorite toys to the box to make it more inviting. Adding a relaxing diffuser for cats to the space might also help make it more attractive.

A soothing diffuser emits a drug-free, odorless mist that mimics the pheromones released by cats to suggest a safe and secure environment. This is similar to delivering a signal in a cat’s native language informing her that she may rest.

The fondness a cat has for boxes should be commended and fostered. Whether your cat is anxious, in need of additional warmth, or simply wants to play, a box may be an ideal addition to his or her collection of “toys.”

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Sources: 1, 2

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