Why Do Cats Love Boxes?


If you’re a cat owner, you’ve probably noticed that your feline friend can’t resist the allure of an empty box. Whether it’s a shoebox, a cardboard container, or even a pizza box, it seems like cats just can’t get enough of these humble containers. But have you ever wondered why cats love boxes so much?

In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating reasons behind this peculiar feline behavior. From their instinctual need for shelter to their natural curiosity, there are several factors that come together to make boxes the ultimate playground for cats.

The Appeal of a Box

There are a few key reasons why cats are drawn to boxes:

1. Comfort and Security

Cats are known for their love of cozy spaces, and a box provides the perfect combination of comfort and security. A small, enclosed space like a box gives them a sense of protection, allowing them to feel safe and secure. It’s like their own little fortress where they can relax without worrying about potential threats from the outside world.

Moreover, boxes retain heat and provide insulation, making them warm and inviting for cats. This is especially appealing during the colder months when cats seek warmth.

2. Hiding and Hunting Instincts

Cats are natural-born hunters, and boxes allow them to engage in their instinctual behaviors. By hiding in a box, cats can lurk in the shadows and observe their surroundings without being detected. This gives them a sense of control and allows them to plan and strategize their next move, just like they would in the wild.

Boxes also provide an excellent vantage point for stalking prey. From the safety of a box, cats can patiently wait for their unsuspecting targets to pass by. This behavior is not only entertaining for cats but also helps them satisfy their hunting instincts, even if it’s just a feather toy passing by.

3. Sensory Enrichment

Cats have highly developed senses, and boxes offer a multisensory experience that can be incredibly stimulating for them. The confined space of a box enhances their sense of touch, allowing them to feel the texture of the cardboard against their fur. The rustling sound of their movements inside the box tickles their sensitive ears, adding to the sensory pleasure.

Furthermore, the enclosed environment of a box intensifies the scent of their surroundings, creating an olfactory playground for curious cats. They can rub their cheeks against the box, leaving their scent, and mark it as their territory. This is a comforting and reassuring behavior for cats, as it helps establish their presence in their environment.

4. Stress Relief

It may come as no surprise that cats can experience stress, just like humans. Boxes provide a safe space where cats can retreat to when they feel overwhelmed or anxious. Curling up in a box can help them cope with stress, providing a calming and reassuring environment that helps them relax and recharge.

The Science Behind the Box Obsession

While the reasons mentioned above offer some insight into why cats are so drawn to boxes, there are also scientific explanations for this behavior. Researchers have conducted studies to understand the lure of the box to cats:

1. Exploring the Theory of Environmental Enrichment

In a study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, researchers found that boxes can be viewed as “environmental enrichment” for cats. Environmental enrichment refers to providing animals with stimulating and engaging environments that enhance their overall well-being.

According to the study, boxes offer cats a safe space where they can engage with their environment and exhibit natural behaviors. This helps reduce stress and prevent boredom, leading to more content and happier cats.

2. The Temperature Regulation Hypothesis

An article published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery introduced the “temperature regulation hypothesis.” The study suggests that cats seek out confined spaces like boxes because they help regulate body temperature.

According to this hypothesis, cats have a higher thermoneutral zone (the range of ambient temperatures in which an animal can maintain its body temperature without using extra energy) than humans. So, when a cat rests in a box, it helps keep their body temperature within the optimal range, conserving energy and providing a cozy spot to stay warm.


So, the next time you notice your cat eagerly jumping into an empty box, you can rest assured that there’s more to this behavior than meets the eye. From providing comfort and security to fulfilling their hunting instincts, boxes offer a world of entertainment and enrichment for our feline friends.

By understanding why cats love boxes, we can better cater to their needs and create an environment that keeps them happy and engaged. So, go ahead and indulge your furry companion with a box or two—they’ll thank you for it!