I have had cats all my life. When I was younger, I had a cat named Suzzy who could literally fit in anything. She would sit in a tiny box for hours. To understand her behavior, I did extensive research on why cats love empty boxes.
The mystery of cats and empty boxes is an age-old question.
There is no simple explanation. Several people in the internet have tried to unravel this mystery.
The big puzzle is, is it just for fun or there is a scientific explanation to it? Well, generally speaking, it is a bit of both.
6 reasons why cats love empty boxes
1. Empty boxes are safe and secure
Cats like to fit themselves in small spaces because it makes them feel safe and secure. Our houses are huge with lots of free open spaces. Small empty boxes on the other hand are small and secure.
Let us be hypothetical. If you were lost in a huge forest, what would be your topmost priority?
Simple right, to find shelter in a secure place.
You are lost, nervous and scared to death. Then you come across an empty cave. Your first instinct would be to hide in the cave as you wait for help. This is what empty boxes offer cats.
Therefore, the first reason why cats love empty boxes is because empty boxes offer shelter. Although cats have gotten accustomed to living with humans, they are still animals. To survive in the wild, they need to hide in a secure place and still be able to see their surroundings.
Small empty boxes are safe and secure, and cats can still be able to see what is happening. Therefore, empty boxes serve as good shelter options for cats.
2. Boxes offer stress relief thus help cats to adapt
The second reason why cats love empty boxes, is because empty boxes act as stress relievers.
The relationship between cats and empty boxes is rooted on comfort. Empty boxes offer great hiding spaces where cats in a new environment can feel safe.
Cats love to hide naturally. They enjoy cozy enclosed spaces. When cats squeeze themselves into small empty boxes, they are able to see without being seeing.
Since empty boxes make cats feel safe and secure, cats use them as a good coping mechanism to deal with stress and anxiety.
A study on stress in shelter cats conducted by a group of researchers at the University of Utreatch found that hiding boxes reduced stress.
Setting up empty boxes in various locations can reduce stress in a newly adopted cat and help them adapt more easily to their new home.
3. Empty boxes offer great hiding spaces to hide from predators and stalk prey
Instinctively, cats like to seek confined spaces. These spaces allow them to hide from predators and stalk their prey.
Cats are natural predators. They retain their wild instincts even when living with their humans. In the wild when hunting, cats like to hide from their prey, stalk and then pounce on them.
Given the chance, cats hide in boxes and pounce on their prey. The prey is usually your feet as you walk past their boxes or toys or other kittens (cats).
We recommend providing your cat with prey-like toys such as feathers for them to prey and pounce on alongside boxes to hide in. There are several good feather toys available such as the Pet fit for life feathers.
4. Boxes make excellent places for cats to sleep in
The other reason why cats love empty boxes is because they make a great place to sleep in. Cats spend a great part of their day sleeping (18 – 20 hours). As such finding a great spot is of ultimate importance.
Boxes may just be simple to you. But for a cat, it offers comfort, safety and luxury.
Additionally, boxes are great insulators of heat. They therefore provide a warm place for your cat to comfortably sleep in.
5. Boxes have a good texture to chew and scratch on
Another reason why cats love empty boxes is their texture. Boxes come in a texture that is easy to chew on and scratch on.
Boxes therefore make excellent toys for your cat to chew, scratch and play with.
Additionally, having an old box or two will keep your cat busy for days on end and save your couch from all the scratching.
6. Cats are just curious
Cats are naturally curious. Whenever there is something new in the house, do not be surprised to see them rub themselves on the object. They are just trying to investigate what it is.
The new item not only smells different, but your cat will be interested to find out its purpose.
The age-old question, “why cats love empty boxes?” has no simple explanation. Many people have tried to explain this mystery of the cat and the box.
Having explored all the possible explanations we can conclude that cats love boxes because of a number of reasons.
Boxes offer excellent hiding and sleeping places. Furthermore, boxes are warm and comfortable. They therefore make cats feel safe and secure.
Additionally, cats can hide from predators and stalk prey in boxes. This allows them to express their natural behavior.
Lastly, boxes have a good texture that makes them excellent toys to chew and scratch on.
Read our guide on the different stages of kittenhood to find out more about kitten milestones.