Why do cats like boxes so much?

Our furry feline friends love boxes. Big boxes, small boxes, up high on a shelf, or your suitcase as you try to pack for a holiday – if they fit, they sit. Like most cat behaviour, scientists haven’t quite sussed out why, but we can be confident that the answer involves the cat’s instinct. Cats are ambush predators. This means they wait and hide, and jump on their prey, so a box may appeal to them as it’s the perfect place to stake out their next meal. There’s also the fact that cats are not great at conflict resolution. Where other mammals will choice to solve their differences, faced with the choice to work out their problems, most cats will just run to somewhere quiet and safe when they are faced with a confrontation, preferring the security of nice cosy box. It is likely that boxes are also practical for cats, as most will sleep between 18 – 20 hours a day. It makes sense that they will prefer to rest somewhere they know they are out of the reach of predators, especially if that place is warm. Humans are most comfortable around 20C, but cats prefer a much warmer range between 30C and 36C.  This is why you see cats laying sprawled out across a beam of sunlight on the floor in front of a window. Their love of warmth attracts them to the corrugated cardboard is a good insulator and the confined space means the cat curls into a ball, conserving even more heat.

So there’s our answer – boxes are warm, and relieve stress, and their instincts from their time as big cats in the wild tell them to seek out small insulated places to stay safe and find prey.

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