You shop for hours online for the perfect cat bed, but when it arrives, the cat seems to want to spend more time in the box it came in. You go to put shoes back in a shoe box only to find the cat is snoozing in it. You try and pack a box for shipping and kitty just won’t stay out of it. But when you finally give in and give the silly cat a great big box of its own it goes and wedges itself into a ridiculously small container of some sort. Why do cats love boxes?
Believe it or not, it isn’t the box they are drawn to, but the physical sensation they experience from being in the box. Have you ever noticed that a cat will wedge itself into a box that just seems way too small? Those are the best boxes of all. You see, being in those boxes, especially the small ones, provides cats with compression, and compression makes cats feel secure and safe.
Does this box make my cat look big?
Much like how compression wraps ease anxiety in dogs, compression therapy can alleviate fearfulness and anxiousness in cats. Feeling the box all around them provides cats with a sense of security and comfort. They will often seek out the smallest box they can find as it provides the greatest amount of compression. And it isn’t just house cats that enjoy a good box. There are many instances of big cats, such as lions and tigers and Jaguars being provided with a selection of cardboard boxes more their size. Even these big cats seemed to enjoy climbing in, rolling around, and even chewing on the boxes a bit.
Why do cats love boxes?
Cats self-administer their compression therapy in more ways than with just boxes. It isn’t uncommon to find a cat snuggled up under a blanket, sleeping in the crook behind your knees, hunkered down between the pillows on the conch, or snoozing behind your shoes in your closet. Any place that can provide them with some sort of compression or containment can be soothing to your cat. Often at veterinary clinics, you will find feline patients sleeping in their litter boxes and peeing on the soft fleece bed. The cat has found security in the rigid-sided litter box; there’s no way it is going to pee in its fort!
There has also been some discussion in temperature playing a factor. Cats run a few degrees warmer than humans. Wedging itself into a cardboard box might mean it retains a bit more body heat, making it feel more comfortable. When you get cold you reach for a sweater; maybe your cat just reaches for a shoebox!
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why cats love boxes. The obvious fact is they enjoy them, so why not give them a few? It’s like giving a kid a blanket fort, especially when you need them to entertain themselves for a bit. When we were kids a good box could keep us entertained for days, or until it rained. Cats of all ages can find comfort and entertainment in a simple bit of cardboard but be sure to mix it up with a variety of sizes and shapes. Try taking a big box and cutting holes in it. Toss in a few treats or toys for extra fun. You may have almost as much fun watching them as they do playing.
** A word of advice, however, no matter what you hear coming out of the box once kitty has entered it, never, ever, EVER stick your head inside to see what is going on!