Why Do Cats Like Cardboard Boxes?

It does not matter if you own a cat or not, you are bound to see it, or at least know about it. Cats absolutely, positively love cardboard boxes. It is many a cat owner’s angst that their feline friend prefers the cardboard box over the deluxe cat tower which (sometimes) costs upwards of 100 dollars.
What, is the cat pillar not good enough? What is it about cardboard boxes that get cats so riled up all over the world? What is their alluring draw? Well, it turns out that science may have the answer.


It could just be that your feline friend is looking for a way to relieve stress. It turns out that stressed out cats really like to be surrounded in an enclosed space. At least, that’s what over 50 years of scientific study and research have led us to believe.

It turns out that cats who are in super stressful situations, be they in a lab or simply in an animal shelter who do not have cardboard boxes to go hide inside have noticeably higher cortisol levels (cortisol is the chemical in the brain which causes stress) than cats in the same exact situations.

According to Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, cats try and hide whenever they are under huge amounts of stress. Those cats who are able to hide and get a little bit of alone time typically are less stressed out, adapt to their new surroundings faster, and are generally more pleasant to be around than the cats which don’t have this refuge.

Instead of being in a natural environment where a cat can get alone time on top of a tree or in a cave or under a bush, domesticated cats seek refuge in boxes.


Cats are really anti-social and are perhaps the worst problem solvers on the planet when it comes to intra-species relationships. Cats would prefer to run up a tree or just hide out if they see a cat they do not like, much like many humans who are all bark (or meow) and no bite.
Therefore, another prevailing theory as to why cat love boxes is because they can just hide from the world and not have to deal with any of the annoying stressors outside. Wow, that sounds like quite the life.

If it fits, they sits

The last prevailing theory as to why cats will always prefer a nice, cozy cardboard box over a beautiful, elegant cat play set is because they might just be super cold. The optimal temperature for a cat to be in (where they do not have to produce their own body heat nor do they have to sweat in order to cool themselves down) is between 86 to 97 degrees fahrenheit.

This is the perfect weather for a cat (and explains why they were so relaxed and at home in Egypt. They basically control countries like Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon).

However, this is probably too hot for you. So, like a normal person, you probably keep your house at a nice 75 degrees. But this is causing your cat to freeze. It is like keeping the thermostat at 50 degrees for a human. Yes, your cat is that cold all the time in your home.

But more than likely, it is a combination of all of these factors that contribute to the reason behind why cats really like cardboard boxes. Or, who knows, maybe they are just playing with us.