Why Cats Like Boxes (or Any Teeny, Tiny Space)

Posted by Christy Caplan
Why Do Cats Like Boxes

Anyone that lives with a cat knows they love small spaces and prefer boxes over any other type of container. You could spend a lot of money on a very expensive cat bed and then as soon as you put it down on the floor they run to the box it came in and won't get out. Cats! 

Cats love boxes. What's so special about a box?

1. Cats take comfort in small spaces

Research tells us that hiding in a box can lower stress. Boxes are confined, enclosed spaces and cats are ambush predators and finding confined places where they can hide, hunt prey and feel safe and warm is an instinctive behavior.

2. Science says it lowers their stress level

Finally! Some research was done and shelters were their environment where they tested out this theory.

"The researchers assessed the effect of a hiding box onstress levelsof newly arrived cats in a Dutch animal shelter. Ten cats had a box; nine did not. They found a significant difference between the two groups on observation days 3 and 4. The cats with the hiding box were able to recover faster in their new environment."

So when you adopt a cat, make sure you have some empty boxes around for them to hang out in!

3. Hiding helps them cope with scary situations 

Hiding from predators is a priority. Why do cats always pick out the box with the tallest sides? So 'predators' can't sneak up on them of course. The dogs in your house could easily be confused for predators.

4. Small boxes are warm

Don't you occasionally find your cat on top of a radiator or some device that's emitting heat?

Mental Floss explains that curling up in an undersized shelter has an additional benefit: it helps the cat retain more body heat.

"Cats tend to like running at a temperature between 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit."

5. Boxes are a bed and a place to scratch 

Cats enjoy scratching posts and shredding paper so this isn't only a place to rest but a built-in toy!

Cat enrichment is one topic we write a lot about at Wide Open Pets. Did we miss any other reasons cats may enjoy the simple comfort of a box?

Think about how easy it is to provide a level of comfort to shelter cats by giving them hiding places in the form of a box? Other 'containers' could be laundry baskets. You can add a few blankets to the cardboard boxes you're using and this cozy hiding spot is also a nice place to stay warm during winter since it's such a great insulator.

This instinctual behavior probably saves cats in the wild so leave some boxes out for feral cats and DIY this solution for the outdoor cat you feed!

Do you give your cat a box to hang out in? Let us know if they love their box in the comments below!

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Why Cats Like Boxes (or Any Teeny, Tiny Space)