Why Cats Can’t Get Enough of Cardboard Boxes

Photo Credit: Unsplash, Ferenc Horvath

It seems that kitty cats and cardboard boxes go together like PB&J. Cats are drawn to those brown cubes like white on rice – or in this case, brown on cardboard. But why? Trying to decode cat behaviors may seem nearly impossible, especially when this obsession is universal in felines. But let’s explore anyway…

Cats crave security

Mark Freemen, DVM and an assistant professor at the VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine told Readers Digest,

“Cats are, by nature, cryptic animals, meaning they prefer to have a safe hiding spot from which they can observe the world around them. Cats are both hunter and prey, so having a secure space from which they can monitor for threats from predators as well as for appealing prey is ideal.”

Pretty neat. We cat owners tend to humanize our kitties, making us forget they have their own instincts for survival.

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Kitties want to be warm

Cats need to maintain a certain temperature to remain comfortable. Wired quotes a 2006 study by the National Research Council as saying that “the thermoneutral zone for a domestic cat is 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the range of temperatures in which cats are ‘comfortable’ and don’t have to generate extra heat to keep warm or expend metabolic energy on cooling.”

It would make sense that our furry felines find comfort within boxes. Corrugated cardboard is a type of insulator which can help regulate their inner temperature, ensuring the cat is comfortable. This can also help them preserve body heat when cold.

Cats may be searching for stimulation or an escape from anxiety

Have you found your cat loves to scratch, bite, and chew on cardboard? Some cats need to be stimulated more, and so find this activity fun. “You’ll often find them scratching, chewing, and otherwise mangling the cardboard, which is a great source of entertainment and pleasure for the cat,” said Freeman.

Photo Credit: Pexels, Peng Louis

But that’s not all! Felines have scent glands on their paws, so scratching leaves behind their signature mark – it’s part of how they mark their territory.

Cardboard can also be a great escape, particularly for cats that suffer from anxiety. “When a cat is over-stimulated, tired, or just in need of a break, a box gives them the ability to recharge until they’re ready to come out and play again,” Daniel Rotman, CEO of PrettyLitter, told RD.

Before you give your cat a box, make sure sure to remove any objects that may cause harm, such as staples in the seams. After that, let them enjoy their new space – and have a good time watching them.