For our cats, nothing beats the joys of a simple cardboard box. You may have just bought the fanciest cat toy available, but 9 times out of 10, our weird and wonderful kitties are more interested in the packaging it came in.
Our cats’ love of boxes is a strange phenomenon that’s baffled cat owners for decades. And we’ve all seen the pictures and videos of this odd behavior that’s taken the world by storm. But why do cats love boxes so much?
For safety and security
Perhaps the number one reason cats love boxes is because it’s safe and enclosed. Cats aren’t the best at conflict resolution. When they experience changes or stress from their environment, their natural instinct is to run and hide. A box is a source of comfort for cats, and the perfect hiding place to help them feel secure.
It’s a safe space where your moggy can observe but not be seen. In a box, your cat feels they’re safe from the element of surprise. Where they can’t be snuck up on from the back or sides by ‘intruders’ like other pets or humans. Anyone approaching must come directly into their field of vision, so your cat feels like they know exactly what’s going on in the world around them.
Cats also sleep around 18 hours every day. And finding that perfect spot where they can relax and feel safe is of high importance to our feline friends.
To stalk prey
Have you ever walked past a box in your home only to have your cat swat at your ankles? Because let’s not to forget, cats are natural ambush predators. A box is the perfect hiding spot to stalk prey and retreat to. This allows them to dash out and attack, but just as quickly return to their hiding spot where they’re safe.
Our loveable kitties can often be found on the sunniest windowsill or curled up next to a radiator. It’s no secret cats love being warm. Their body temperature is around 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit, and most homes are around 72 degrees. Which is a considerable difference. So that may explain why cats love squeezing into carboard boxes. Cardboard is a great insulator, providing a cozy and warm space for your moggy to unwind.
To reduce stress
Because boxes help cats feel safe and secure, they’re also a great coping mechanism in stressful situations. A 2014 study by Utrecht University in the Netherlands assessed stress levels in shelter cats. One group of newly arrived shelter cats were given boxes, while the other group were not. And the results were significant. The study revealed the cats that were given boxes were notably less stressed, they adapted to their environment faster, and were more willing to interact with humans. So there’s no denying the benefits of boxes for helping cats cope with change.
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