Why Do Cats Love Boxes So Much?

why-do-cats-love-boxes

Cats and boxes: it’s a love affair for the ages. For most cats, nothing can bring as much joy as a simple box. For some cats, any box will do. For others, size matters, and preferences vary. While some cats prefer big, roomy mansion-sized boxes, others will wedge themselves into tiny little boxes, giving rise to the “if it fits it sits” meme. Have you ever wondered why cats are so drawn to boxes and other enclosed spaces like baskets and suitcases?

Instinct

Looking for enclosed spaces is instinctual behavior for cats. In the wild, this allows them to hide from predators, and to stalk their prey without being seen.

Security

Enclosed spaces can provide a sense of security for cats. A 2014 study at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands looked at shelter cats with and without boxes. The findings will not surprise anyone who has worked with cats in a shelter or clinic setting: the cats who were given boxes adapted to their new surroundings much more quickly, were less stressed and more interested in interacting with humans.

Warmth

According to a 2006 study by the National Research Council, the thermoneutral zone for a domestic cat is 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit.  That’s the range of temperatures in which cats are comfortable without having to generate energy above and beyond their normal metabolic rate. Since that rate is much higher than our human comfort zone, it might explain why cats gravitate toward tiny, enclosed spaces: the force the cat to squish herself into a ball or other contorted shape, which, of course, helps preserve body heat.

Getting creative with boxes

While most cats are probably fine with just a plain old box, some cat parents get super creative with boxes, building entire forts and castles for their cats. The video below from a few years ago is still a favorite of mine:

12 Comments on Why Do Cats Love Boxes So Much?

  1. Keith
    July 18, 2017 at 1:02 pm (1 month ago)

    Isn’t it amazing how cats love boxes and will even happily get into a cat carrier UNTIL that carrier is headed for the Vet – then its all out war! Amazingly perceptive animals.

    Reply
  2. Julie Blaskie
    July 11, 2017 at 8:18 pm (1 month ago)

    Our little Lucky LOVES the boxes from the mail… and the Christmas bags! If she can grab a paper bag before we store it, we have a kitty in the bag! Our Bella LOVES the recycle bin! No fancy beds or anything for them. My dear old Ruford is a committed lap cat (on me) or up on the sofa back behind us – he kinda looks at the girls as nuts for wanting the boxes or bags! (At 17 he is entitled to be a grumpy old man!) Much love and hugs to all kitties and their parents from Ruford, Bella, and Lucky.

    Reply
  3. Deb Barnes
    July 11, 2017 at 6:46 pm (1 month ago)

    I love that so much about cats and boxes – on the surface it just seems like a funny or weird habit. But it’s all in the inner DNA wired in a cat! Purrs from Deb and the Zee/Zoey gang

    Reply
  4. Bill Eckardt
    July 11, 2017 at 2:27 pm (1 month ago)

    For my tortoise shell Liddi, I have a box full of tissue wrapping paper that she goes to war with and a stiff sided paper shopping bag that she loves to hide in.

    Great entertainment.

    Reply
  5. Caren Gittleman
    July 11, 2017 at 9:19 am (1 month ago)

    Well….MOST cats love boxes!!!! Cody seems to go against the grain when it comes to MOST things that other cats love. He is rarely a fan of boxes, every now and then he will be curious or go into one, but those times are rare indeed! He also doesn’t mind the car ride to the Vet, strangers, dogs, vacuums……….

    Reply
    • Caren Gittleman
      July 11, 2017 at 9:19 am (1 month ago)

      duh! didn’t finish my comment because Lenny called…anyway……..those points above prove just how strange Cody is (but we already knew that! lol) Have a great day!

      Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 11, 2017 at 3:37 pm (1 month ago)

      He’s one of a kind! 🙂

      Reply
  6. Janine
    July 11, 2017 at 8:26 am (1 month ago)

    I love seeing how excited my cats get when I have a box come in the mail.

    Reply
  7. Wendye Kolles
    July 11, 2017 at 7:24 am (1 month ago)

    YEP! Every time we get a package, I’ll leave the box out for our furbabies to explore. I figure it’s THEIR home and they need to know what’s going on in every inch of their environment.

    Love and blessings to ALL pussycats and their pet parents! xo xo xo xo xo xo xo

    Reply
  8. Cynthia Began
    July 11, 2017 at 6:39 am (1 month ago)

    Every time I get a new package in the mail, it is feline law (or Piper’s law) that I must leave the boxes on the floor for at least a week! When I got her very large kitty condo and unpacked it, the first thing she did was jump in the box. I had to put catnip on the condo to lure her out of the box!

    Reply
  9. Sue Brandes
    July 11, 2017 at 4:43 am (1 month ago)

    Wow that’s a neat tower. My cats are very picky on boxes.

    Reply
  10. nancy
    July 11, 2017 at 3:30 am (1 month ago)

    Wow, my cats couldn’t have resisted climbing in the boxes when he first finished one, and would have scratched the outsides to shreds. Plus, ya never put a cat where you want them to be (the top of the boxes), mine would immediately jump down in disgust! 🙂 Mine prefer jumping in a box that comes in the mail BEFORE I empty them, then after I empty it, I leave it in the front hall, and eventually they are in it. After a few days, they start clawing it (despite having all kinds of cat trees and posts!)

    Reply

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