Cats are an odd bunch. You can spend lots of money on new expensive toys and food for them, only for them to take more pleasure playing around with the boxes that the toys and food arrived in. But why do cats like boxes?
Cats enjoy hiding in boxes, and indeed other confined hidden spaces as it lowers the chances of being snuck up on from behind, while still allowing the cat to survey its surroundings and keep an eye on potential threats or prey.
So, is it a primal thing?
Cats are, by their very nature, ambush predators and therefore always seek out hidden locations that can provide a tactical advantage over their prey. This characteristic can be observed in many different species within the cat family and is one of the many reasons that they have flourished as both a wild and domesticated animal.
Are there any other advantages for hiding in a box?
Recent studies have shown that a safe and secure object within which they hide – such as a box – helps to lower a cat’s stress levels. In fact, as an owner, you can help limit the stress your cat feels during hectic situations (such as moving house or entertaining guests) by providing them with a box to sleep in.
Is my cat anti-social?
In a word, yes. Most cats are anti-social creatures unless they’re in the mood for attention or food. Furthermore, cats tend to avoid conflict resolution as often as possible and tend to hide from any problem that is causing them stress – and a box is the perfect place to which they can retreat.
Why do cats still like boxes even if there are no threats?
A box can act as an isolated, insulated place that allows your cat to relax. Cats have a warmer body temperature than humans, and as most of the habitable rooms in an average house are between 17°-23° Celsius, the additional heat the box provides can be very comforting and helps them to sleep - and as cats like to sleep for up to 20 hours a day, it’s easy to see why they seek them out.
Should I provide my cat with a box?
Many behavioural experts believe that cats are always at their happiest when they have access to a box, or a similar covert location. So, while you do not necessarily have to provide them with a box, a more aesthetically pleasing cat house or den can be purchased from many retailers that will provide the same benefits.
Ultimately, we all want our cats to be as happy as possible. And similar to ourselves, every cat will have their own personality quirks – but it’s these odd quirks and behaviours that make us love them. So, if in the future another owner asks you “why do my cats like boxes so much?”, you’ll be able to re-assure them that it’s completely normal behaviour and it helps their cats to relax.