Cats and boxes go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like salt and pepper. Like D-list reality TV stars and politics.
But why are cats so drawn to the confines of a cardboard box? If your cat loves seeing those Amazon Prime packages on the porch as much as you do, read on.
The Lure of Confined Spaces
Cats aren’t just naturally predisposed to nesting in boxes, they also love suitcases, flower pots, and even laundry baskets. If it fits, they sits, as the saying goes! But why? Humans don’t routinely squish themselves into their car trunks, so what’s up with this weird cat behavior?
Turns out, cats are animals at heart. (Who knew?) Sitting in boxes is just pure, animalistic behavior at the end of the day.
The Basic Instinct of Boxes
Cats are, at their core, predators. If given the opportunity, they prefer to ambush their prey. A cardboard box simply looks to your cat to be an excellent place to hide while waiting on her next “kill.” If your cat has ever jumped out of a box to take on your ankles at full speed, you know this to be true.
On the flip side, boxes also provide a great place for cats to retreat to. All animals look for comfort and security…an empty box screams “no one will find me here!” to your cat. When poured into a box, your cat feels sure no one can sneak up on her from behind or from the side. It’s her equivalent of a hollowed-out tree trunk in the woods during a rainstorm.
And remember, cats aren’t exactly known for their stellar social skills; they’re territorial animals. If they sense encroachment, sometimes a retreat to a box is simply a means of conflict resolution. Not much of a resolution if you ask us, but we’re not cats.
Bring on the Boxes
Should you encourage this behavior or is setting out boxes just making your cat more neurotic? Studies have actually been performed that prove having a box around significantly decreases the stress levels of shelter cats. A box (or other enclosed, cat-friendly space) inside your home can do the same for your feline friend.
It’s totally fine for your cat to hang out in boxes or any other space they can squish themselves into. It’s important to keep the box clear of toys (especially strings) that she could tangle herself up in, and also to keep the box away from heat sources like a floor vent or radiator.
All that to say: Boxes are the best.