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Cat lying in a cardboard box

5 reasons why cats love cardboard boxes

Have you ever purchased your cat the coolest toy or fanciest scratching post, but they ended up being much more interested in the box that it came in? Us too!

Whether it’s compact tiny boxes or large irregular sized ones, they all have some kind of peculiar gravitational pull on felines. But why exactly does your cat love boxes so much? Let’s take a closer look…

Boxes provide a safe space

Instinctively, cats like to stay sheltered away from any incoming threats. Your cat’s fight or flight instinct more often than not tells them to flight. And a box provides the perfect space to run and hide.

In stressful situations, a box or other enclosed space can help improve their mood and behaviour. That’s because they don’t have to worry about being surprised by any predators – ‘intruders’ like us humans and other pets will have to walk into their line of sight. What’s more, boxes are a safe space where your cat can watch you, but where you can’t see them.


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Cardboard keeps them warm

Cardboard is a great insulator. And the small space inside convinces your cat to curl up and relax in the cosy and warm space. You might not think of cardboard boxes as being a great way to battle the winter chills, but a box just big enough for the size of your cat is perfect way to retain their body heat. Basically, in your cat’s eyes, cardboard boxes are the comfiest and warmest beds in the world!

They make the best beds

Cat squashed inside a cardboard box

Speaking of beds, a perfectly sized box is better than catnip to your cat. That’s because they’re the perfect spot for snoozing and dreaming the day away. And cats can spend up to a massive 20 hours every day sleeping! You might see a simple cardboard box, but your cat sees a safe and sheltered space ideal for those everyday catnaps.

They help cats to adapt to new changes

Because boxes provide such a safe space for cats, they can actually help cats to adapt to new changes and stressful situations. For instance, if you’ve just moved house, don’t throw away all those moving boxes! Instead, your cat can use them as a space to feel comfortable in a strange surrounding.

Want more tips on soothing stress in cats? Read our expert guide on cat anxiety to find out what scenarios to avoid and how to treat the problem.


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Cats are curious

Cats are infamous for being curious. It should come as no surprise to an experienced cat owner that whenever you buy something new, your cat will be on-hand to investigate – like your very own quality inspector. And the same goes with the boxes they come in! Your cat is simply curious about the new smells and textures (more on this below). And they’re curious to see what the purpose of this strange, new box is. Is it a new toy? A bed? A scratching pad? Probably all of the above…

Boxes are the best toys

Cat playing in a cardboard box

Instinctively, cats are ambush predators. This means that they like to keep themselves concealed before suddenly pouncing on their prey. And this animal instinct is kept alive during playtime – you might notice that your cat sneaks around a box or your sofa before attacking their favourite wand toy.

For toddlers, cardboard boxes can be anything – from castles and forts to cars and planes. And the same goes for your cat. Cats love to play. The best part? They’re easily entertained by the simplest of things in life, even the humble cardboard box. Your cat can climb on it, jump in and out of it, hit it with their paws, scratch it… the list goes on!

It’s all about the smells and texture

Cats love to chew and scratch cardboard boxes as much as they like to sit in them. Did you know that your cat’s sense of smell is 14 times better than your own? Each new box you bring into your home comes with its very own unique smell.

Plus, cardboard isn’t a common household texture. This new thing to touch and scratch on bemuses your cat. It fascinates your cat so much, that they’re likely to shred the box to bits after a while. It’s not because they love destroying things (although some cats do). Instead, it’s simply because they can’t get enough of this new texture in their home.

If I fit, I sit

Cat sleeping in a sink

You don’t have to be an observant cat owner to notice that in addition to boxes, cats are often found in many other odd places – think shoes, bags, or even your bathroom sink. Cats are experts at making themselves at home, even in the most uncomfortable spots!

There are endless reasons that can explain your cat’s fascination with boxes, from warmth and comfort to stimulating smells and places to pounce. But it mostly comes down to the fact that cardboard boxes tick off everything your cat needs – they provide safety, warmth and protection.

Looking for some explanations behind more of your cat’s bizarre behaviour? Discover why cats walk in circles before lying down, or find out the answer to does your kitten dream?

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