cats and boxesMost feline fanciers have come to know and love their cat’s appreciation for the cardboard box. A year’s worth of new toys cannot come close to the attraction of cats and boxes and empty containers. Besides their interest in pouncing on unsuspecting prey, many of us have pondered why – after spending good money on new cat toys – the family cat prefers a plain old cardboard box?

To help clear up some of the mystery behind this behavior, your friends at Leon Valley have set out to investigate the fascinating connection between cats and boxes.

Primal Instincts

If your kitty is a primo hunter, it may be that he or she loves boxes for the purpose of honing innate hunting skills. Following their instinctual drive to hunt often prompts kitties to turn places where imaginary prey might take shelter into “hiding spots.” This includes under the bed, behind the door, and yes, inside a box.

In the wild, cats also seek out places to hide in order to elude potential prey – which in turn rewards this ingrained predatory behavior: AMBUSH!

Safe Places, Hiding Places

Speaking of hiding places, according to a study by the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, cats seek out hiding places as a way to alleviate stress. This study focused on a group of shelter cats, some of whom were given boxes while others were not. After measuring their stress levels, the cats with boxes showed less stress and greater resilience than those without.

Cats seek out hiding places when in distress, to avoid conflict with other cats, or when they’re ill, so the desire for a cozy, contained hiding place make sense (which is also another great reason to crate train your cat!). Along with “cozy,” cats also love warm spots, and boxes are typically warm, snug, and great for an afternoon catnap.

Cats and Boxes…More Fun for Felines!

Before we get into all the ways you can encourage a cardboard box bonanza, it’s also true that cats just like to relax on things, from the keyboard to folded towels. It’s also true that cats don’t discriminate between small spaces. From square or rectangular items, such as a folded newspaper, to circular items like a bowl, Fluffy doesn’t seem to care about shape or dimension.

So given your pet’s penchant for cozy, contained spots, what can you do to encourage a bit of warmth, fun, and security for your feline friend?

  • Be sure to save all packing boxes, including shoe boxes and shipping boxes, and leave them out for kitty to explore.
  • Whatever box you choose, remove all tape, packing filler, staples, and string to avoid any injuries.
  • Sprinkle a little catnip in the box for added delight!
  • No cardboard boxes around? No problem. Crinkled up paper, a folded newspaper, or a laundry basket can work just as well.

We might not understand all the mysterious ways of our feline companions, but we love them all the same. Does your cat have a thing for cardboard or other funny napping spots? Show us! Feel free to post a picture on our Facebook page.