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Optimeal® Blog

Optimeal® Blog

Why Do Cats Like Boxes So Much?

By Bridget Reed


Most pet parents know that felines love to scratch, play, and sleep in boxes. If you’ve noticed your furry friend crawling into the box every time you get a delivery, you might have wondered what it is about boxes that your cat can’t get enough of. 

This article will take a look at all of the reasons felines like boxes so much and provide a few simple tips to make boxes safe playgrounds and beds for your cat.

Boxes Make Cats Feel Safe and Secure

Your furry friend may crawl into a box at every opportunity because boxes make cats feel safe and secure. When felines are anxious, afraid, or agitated, a box can help them feel less vulnerable. 

The four walls and snug fit of a box are comforting to a cat because they ensure that another animal cannot sneak up on them while resting. When your cat is in a box, they also have a full view of anyone approaching them, which can be calming. 

Given that cats gravitate toward boxes for safety, placing boxes in your house for your furry friend may be a good idea when you bring them home for the first time. This may be especially beneficial for shelter cats. 

If you move, you may also want to put boxes around your new home because cats tend to have difficulty with big environmental changes. 

Boxes Simulate Hunting Environments

When your furry friend is holed up in a box, their hunting instincts may kick in. House cats may instinctually hide in boxes because they believe it will help them remain undetected by their “prey.” 

You may notice your cat hiding in a box while preparing a sneak attack on you or another pet. Simulating an ambush attack like this is fun and entertaining for some cats. 

That said, as long as they are not harming you or other furry friends, you can let your cat simulate hunting behavior with boxes to keep them mentally stimulated.

Boxes Keep Cats Warm

Another practical reason you may find your feline in a box is that boxes keep cats warm. Cardboard provides your furry friend insulation to help them retain body heat and maintain a healthy body temperature, especially in winter. 

You may notice that your cat gravitates toward boxes when it is colder outside, and the floors of your house are cold and less comfortable to sleep on. Given that cardboard is a great insulator, your feline friend will likely try to spend as much time in their favorite box during the winter and fall.

Boxes Are New and Exciting 

Cats are curious creatures by nature. When a new and exciting “toy” like a cardboard box is introduced into their environment, they will instinctively want to explore it. You may notice that your cat explores with other objects, such as paper and plastic bags.

Boxes Are Fun for Cats To Play With

Although it might seem too easy, your feline loves to crawl into boxes and poke around because it’s a fun activity. It’s not only domestic cats that have all the fun with boxes. Big cats, such as leopards and tigers, also enjoy playing with boxes. 

You might notice that the play gets a little rough every now and again when your cat starts scratching and chewing their box. Cats need to scratch to maintain their claws and love the feeling of scratching cardboard. Scratching also allows cats to leave their scent on their box thanks to the pads on their paws. 

Boxes Make a Great Bed for Cats

The final answer to the age-old question of why cats love boxes is that boxes make great beds. Since boxes make the perfect hiding spot for cats, they are also an ideal place to take a quick nap or spend the night. 

Instead of buying an expensive cat bed, you can give your furry friend a sense of security at night by decking out a box for them. Your cat will likely get a fantastic night of sleep knowing they are in a safe zone. 

How Can I Make Sure a Box Is Safe for My Cat To Play With?

Allowing your cat to play and nap in boxes is an easy, affordable way to provide them with a safe space and mental enrichment. That said, you can do a few things to ensure a box is safe for your cat. 

Before you let your furry friend curl up in a box:

  • Make sure there is no tape or staples left over in the box. Your cat’s fur may get caught on these, which can cause pain and injury.

  • Place your cat’s box on a sturdy surface where they cannot tip it over and fall. If you think your cat is using the box when they have high stress, place it out of the way of visitors and other furry friends.

  • Consider putting a blanket and a few other cozy items in the box for your furry friend. If you are going away and your cat tends to experience separation anxiety, put a few soft items that smell like you in the box to comfort your feline while you are away. 


Cats like boxes so much because they are enclosed spaces that make them feel safe where they can play or sleep. If you adopt a feline from an animal shelter, it may be a good idea to place a few boxes in your house to help them get used to their new environment in your home. 

Although cat behavior sometimes seems like a mystery, your feline may be drawn to boxes for several reasons. You may notice that your cat hops inside their favorite box during stressful situations or when they feel particularly playful. 

Felines tend to use boxes as a hideout and “ambush predators” that walk by while they are in their hiding box. As long as your furry friend isn’t harming anyone during this game, you should allow them to play. 

Before your cat crawls into a box, make sure it is in a safe space and has no potentially harmful items in it. You can also try putting a few soft, cozy items in empty boxes around your house. Regardless of why your cat uses their box, it may be a good idea to keep a few on hand for your furry friend. 


Thinking Inside the Box: New Research into Cats’ Love of Boxes | The Animal Medical Center

Welfare of cats: the need for a suitable environment | Nidirect

Indoors or Outdoors? An International Exploration of Owner Demographics and Decision Making Associated with Lifestyle of Pet Cats | NIH 

Identification of separation-related problems in domestic cats: A questionnaire survey | NIH 

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