Why do cats like boxes?

You’ve just spent a whole lot of money on treating your cat to some of the best toys out there. 

You’ve brought them home in a big cardboard box, laid them out on the floor – and watched on as they’ve waltzed straight by, jumped in the box, and sat there all day. 

You wouldn’t be the first pet parent to sit there and wonder, “Why do cats like boxes so much?”

Cats love boxes because they provide them with warmth, shelter and a sense of security. 

Let us explain further.  

The 5 main reasons why your cat loves to sit in a box

  1. Security. The four walls, the enclosed space; a cardboard box can feel like an impenetrable fort to a cat. Seeking security by retreating to a safe space is a very common feline trait, especially when things start to get too much for them or they’ve been spooked by something. Cardboard boxes provide sanctuary, somewhere they can hide from potential ‘predators’.
  2. Warmth. You’ll probably know by now that cats are natural heat-seekers, and while a cardboard box may not look like the warmest of environments, it can act as a great insulator for our felines. You might even start finding them all curled up in there taking a nap. If that’s the case, try and make the box as comfortable as possible by placing a blanket or pillow inside. 
  3. Fun. We all know cats are curious creatures, so when this strange, mysterious, new item appears in their home, of course they’re going to investigate. Once they’ve realised the box is of no threat to them, there’s a very good chance it will become their favourite, new plaything. They’ll jump in and out of it, ‘attack’ it, roll around it. It may be hard to believe, but this plain, old cardboard box could well keep them entertained for hours on end. 
  4. Scratching and biting. Cats need to scratch. It keeps their claws in pristine condition, helps them mark their territory, and is how they express excitement or frustration. Cardboard is a fantastic scratching material for them to get their claws and teeth into – certainly a lot better (and cheaper) than your brand new sofa or kitchen table. They can chew or scratch the sides for as long as they want, and the only thing you’ll need to worry about is finding a new box.
  5. Stress relief. Everything we’ve mentioned so far in this list – security, playtime, scratching – all of these can help in reducing a cat’s stress levels. So, while it may not resemble the spa and wellness resort you book yourself into when a bit of R&R is required, a cardboard box could be the most effective stress-reduction tool you have in the house when dealing with an anxious feline.

My cat loves to sit in a cardboard box - How often should I replace it?

All cardboard boxes, no matter how sturdy they appear, have a feline shelf-life. Depending on how much attention your cat gives it, a box can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

As sides begin to rip you can cut bits away to maybe create something new to play with this is a good way of re-igniting a bored cat’s interest. 

Once the box has served its purpose, break it down, and place it in the recycling. 

How to make a cardboard box safe for your cat

Keeping our precious cats safe and healthy is always our number one priority.

That’s why whenever we introduce anything new into the house we take time to assess potential dangers, regardless of how harmless an object may seem. 

Cardboard boxes don’t pose a risk to felines as long as you take the following steps. 

Remove all packaging material, including any staples or exposed tape. Then make sure the box is placed on a sturdy surface, preferably the floor, and away from any areas of high footfall. 

For further guidance on cat behaviour, see our related posts below:

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