WHY DO CATS LIKE BOXES? MYSTERY SOLVED!

One of the curiosities that most intrigues many owners or anyone who lives with cats is their love and obsession with boxes.

Probably, it has happened to you that you spend a lot of money on a bed, a scratching post or a toy for your cat and with great enthusiasm you expect it to like it, but after a few minutes you see it fascinated with the box where the product came in.

The love of cats for boxes has been widely documented on the Internet for many cat owners, so we will answer this “mystery”, in this post you will know all the reasons why the boxes are your cat’s favorite place.

Why do cats like boxes?

There are several reasons why kitties go crazy with boxes; most are due to a wild instinctive behavior developed over the years, which makes even domestic cats behave as they would do it in the wild.

Although domestic cats have been with us for over 4,000 years, their minds still respond to the same stimuli as those of the African wild cat: survival and hunting.

Instinctive behavior.

Cats are hunters who use camouflage to surprise their prey, an instinct that your domestic cat has not yet lost. If your cat is in a box, any “intruders” will be directly in its field of vision.

But just as they are predators, they are also prey, which sometimes leads them to hide to get rid of possible threats.

Boxes and small places offer cats a sense of security, as they feel that in these spaces they cannot be attacked, and they settle in to have a field of vision where they can stay alert and anticipate what is approaching them.

So basically, cats like to hide and watch people or other animals from a place where they consider them invisible, this is explained by the very nature of feline behavior in the face of conflict.

Stephen Zawistowski, a consultant for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), comments that “cats love boxes because they are enigmatic animals: they love to hide and a box gives them security and confidence”.

The boxes reduce the cat’s anxiety or stress.

Cats are animals that are often anxious and stressed when their habitat changes. For them, hiding is a way to deal with environmental changes and stress.

In 2014, a study by the Department of Companion Animal Clinical Sciences at the University of Utrecht in Netherlands, conducted an experiment with domestic cats from a shelter in the country.

They formed two groups of cats. The first group was given some boxes and the second group was not, in order to measure the stress level of the animals.

The study concluded that the cats that were given the boxes were less stressed than the others, they were even calmer with humans and adjusted better to the shelter environment than the cats that did not have cardboard boxes.

For this reason, many cat owners recommend using boxes when you adopt a cat and bring it home for the first time. Instead of letting it crawl under the bed, the sofa or some place where you will have difficulty reaching it, you can leave it in a spacious room with some boxes for it to hide in while it gets used to its new home.

In fact, a simple box can help your cat deal with more complex situations for it such as when introducing several cats, after a visit to the veterinarian or in cats that are shy or fearful.

Maintain a good temperature.

Cats always prefer to be in warm places and at a higher temperature than is usually found in homes. And cardboard boxes are one of the best thermal insulating materials.

The boxes are comfortable and warm and when they get into the box, they must “curl up” which also helps them maintain their body temperature.

The ideal temperature for cats to feel comfortable is around 37 °C / 98.6 F, so warmth is very important for them.

Curiosity.

No matter what breed they are, curiosity is one of the distinctive characteristics that cats have, they always want to know, explore and get their head into whatever seems new or interesting.

This curiosity makes them investigate what is inside those boxes, even if later they discover that there is not much, they will feel comfortable in that small space.

They like to play.

The cat not only hides to observe discreetly, but also uses this hiding place to pounce on an unwary passerby. In its wild state from inside the box, the cat will be able to observe anyone who passes by, and if something arouses its curiosity, it will jump on it.

And if you notice, the domestic cat also plays hunting games like this, with people or with any pet, they like to jump and surprise.

The boxes are made of an irresistible material.

Another reason cats love boxes is the material they are made of: cardboard. It is a good material for scratching and chewing even though it is soft, has the right consistency, and it is a perfect space to leave the usual cat marking with their scent glands.

Cats have an innate need to scratch because this action helps them stretch their paws, toes, legs and shoulders. Besides, this activity is very pleasant for them and they like and relax from the sound it makes.

They are excellent for sleeping.

Cats sleep approximately 12 to 16 hours a day every day, so it is important for them to find the perfect place.

Also, they may feel vulnerable when sleeping, and as we have mentioned, boxes being an enclosed, warm and protective space, are the ideal place to rest, in them, your cat will see a safe cave.

Perfect place to be alone.

It is well known that cats are quite independent, they can be very playful and affectionate but they also need their own space and to be left alone for a while. And what better than to get into a box where no one will bother them? If you think about it, it’s not a bad idea.

Big cats also love boxes.

Believe it or not; big cats like lions, tigers, leopards and many others, also like to play with cardboard boxes.

Large cardboard boxes have been placed near these animals and what has been observed is that they get into them, start playing and hide inside the box. So this attraction happens with all cats, from the smallest to the largest.

You can upgrade the cardboard box for your cat!

If you can’t beat them, join them! Now that you know why cats prefer boxes and the advantages it sees in them, here are some tips to improve its experience:

  • Make sure it is a box large enough for the size of your feline friend.
  • It should be clean of any food residue or dust.
  • It is important that the box has not carried chemicals, acids or any other irritant that can hurt, make your cat sick or intoxicate it.
  • Try to put the box in a safe place to avoid accidents.
  • The box can be made of wood (without edges that can hurt it), fabric, etc. As long as it can get in it, the material is not so important.

 

Make the box a fun place: many boxes can be converted into little beds or houses, we advise you to be creative to decorate them just like these classic cat boxes so that your pet will be happy in them.

You can create tunnels, put a couple of its favorite toys, make small windows in the side so it can look through, stick a paw out to hit toys or people or if you find that your cat often sleeps there, place a blanket in a box that is the right size.

Cat Cave Bed: This type of beds share those characteristics of the boxes that cats like so much. They offer a sense of protection, are cozy, allow your cat to curl up, maintain an adequate body temperature, etc.

Scratcher: since cats also love boxes for their texture, you can find cardboard scratchers of the same material on the market. They are affordable, but you can also do it at home by reusing the boxes that your cat no longer uses.

You will also find high scratching posts with small caves where it will have to climb to get there and it will be able to see everything from the heights.

 

In conclusion.

We can say that for cats, boxes are insulators, stress relievers, comfort zones, places where they can hide, relax, sleep, and occasionally surprise the other pets they live with.

Although, one of the main reasons, as we have said before, is because it reduces their stress.

Therefore, it is very beneficial for your cat to have a cardboard box or a scratching post with a kind of cave, which will serve as a shelter and protection, your cat will thank you for it.

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