Why Do Cats Like Boxes? – The Surprising Answers

Why Do Cats Like Boxes? - The Surprising AnswersI constantly found my kitty, Phoebe, curled up in my old toy box, empty soda can box, or her favorite, shoe boxes. It always made me want to know…why do cats like boxes? The surprising answers make sense, but I always thought it was an attraction of comfort. However, that’s not the case.

Related: Why Does My Cat Sleep for So Long?

Cats like boxes for several reasons…

Stress Relief

Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands performed a study on shelter cats. One group of felines had access to boxes, while the other group were box-deprived. Her study found a significant difference in stress levels between cats that had the boxes and those that didn’t. The kitties that had their beloved boxes were less stressed, grew accustomed to their surroundings faster and engaged with humans sooner. The boxes allowed them to hide and cope with environmental changes and stressors on their own time.

Size Matters

Ever notice your cat trying to squeeze into a tiny box. In the meme world you’ll find it under the “If it fits, I sit” category. Cats like it hot and their preferred temperatures range from 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit. The smaller box forces the cat to curl up in a furry little ball, which preserves body heat. The box, typically cardboard, is a great insulator, too.


Cats are ambush hunters. They like to hide, pounce, and then return with their prey to their safety spot. Boxes make cats feel as though they can’t be snuck up on, which allows them to focus on their prey on take a cat nap. Being that cats sleep an average of 20 hours a day, having a safe, stress-free, and warm spot to curl up in is very important to your furry friend.

Related: 5 Weird Cat Behaviors Explained

In all, it’s instinctual for your cat to seek out boxes. The seemingly odd cat behavior gives your kitty a sense of safety to hunt or nap while relieving stress and staying warm. One thing is certain, it’s pretty darn cute!

Where is the weirdest place you’ve found your cat curling up for a nap? Share your crazy kitty stories in the comment section below.

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  1. ethel newberry says

    About 40+ years ago I inherited Grandma Marino’s round pasta bowl brought from Italy. It could hold enough pasta for eight family members, and second helpings…or four roast chickens, with vegetables. It was displayed on a large lace doily she had crochet on top of our 12 foot walnut table from husband’s side of family. That was where Sir Tux would spend his afternoons sleeping after spending mornings gazing out windows, and napping on most flat surfaces in the house. He was a Tuxedo cat weighing nearly 23 pounds. He was my baby, with me for 13 years. Sadly he died of a kidney problem, and went to Kitty Heaven.

  2. Guest says

    This is so interesting! I personally don’t hve cats as I’m allergic to them, but my auntie has cats and she is always wondering why they seem to have a love for boxes ! I’ll suggest this post to her!

    1. ethel newberry says

      Gold Sushi: Thank you so much for your comment. I’m very sorry you have this allergy. In my opinion, you’ve missed a lot of warm cuddly snuggles, and haven’t had the pleasure of a big furry little person laying across the top of your head at your sleepy time on your pillow at night, because your head “just might” be cold. You haven’t had a good hair wash in bed, until Kitty Kat decides to do it for you, and also to get “the nits” out for you; or, swat you on top of your head when “K.K.” wakes up and wants you to fix his Morning Meal. This is called “Kitty Kat Bonding.” (lol). I could spend two whole pages, plus, to write on and on about Kitty Kats. Humans don’t actually “own” K. K’s,” they own us, and we respond to their likes and dislikes. Thank you again. Happy New Year to you and your Auntie.

  3. cassie730 says

    I’ve never known there was so much behind why they liked boxes. How interesting!! Cats are such cool creatures. I have one cat and she’s nearly 15 years old

    1. ethel newberry says

      To Cassie 730
      We also need to talk about Paper Bags and the hiding qualities they provide for our furry darlings. Many years ago Mr. Tux ( big Tuxedo Cat, 23 lbs.) knew when I went to the store for grocery shopping. He was always by the front door when I got back with “our” food supply. He would escort me into the kitchen and sit on the counter and check out each bag, looking for “His” bag. It got so confusing for a while that finally I had the Bagger put all his supplies in it’s own bag. Oh, he just loved that idea, almost as though he had his own bag of prizes. He would push the bag over and then he was able to pull out each can and box to see what I bought. After he was satisfied with his haul, Mr. Tux would begin to haul his bags into the living room and play hide and seek with them. He’d pop inside one bag, roll around in them, them pop out and into another bag. He could go for 10-15 minutes before he needed his “cat nap,” then start all over again. He loved his bags. Another funny thing was when he had to go to the Vet, he would not allow me to put him in the crate. But, he would get into a big grocery bag, and I was able to wrestle all that into a big king size pillow case, an then carry this heavy bundle to the car. My sense is that bags were his security blanket. I’ll bet your Kitty Kat does funny little things too.
      Happy New Year to you and yours.
      E. N.

  4. Guest says

    I don’t have any cats but my aunt does, she’ll love this post. I’m sure she’s often wondered why her cat enjoys boxes, now she will know why! Thanks for sharing

  5. Guest says

    Wow! I did notice how much cats love boxes. But I never knew there was any logic behind it. I always thought thy just liked playing. Good information!

  6. Guest says

    I don’t have cats but this is my question as well, why do cats like boxes and it seems they really enjoy being in the box. The question is answered with additional information which I find very informative.

  7. Jesus J Hopkins says

    wow this is a great writeup, i do sometimes wonder why granny’s cat always go into one of her old box. thanks for sharing this piece

  8. Guest says

    wow I never could figure out why they’d try to squeeze into a ring box. The going into a box to desk with environmental changes makes sense tho. Like their own alone time.

    1. Guest says

      I’m Jennifer L

  9. bumpnmum says

    This is so interesting and unique post for me as i know nothing about cats habits! I personally don’t have cats, but my neighbor has cats and rabbits. Today i learnt why do cats like boxes !

  10. Lucy Monaco Fois says

    They love boxes except for the one I use to take her to the vet. She will claw and scratch her way out of that one. Or not even go near it if she can.

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