There are endless options for cat toys available in pet stores and online. Cats are known to enjoy cat trees, stuffed mice, feathers on sticks, and laser pointers. Here in this blog, we’ve even discussed more elaborate items such as the cat exercise wheel. But no matter how much money you spend on your cat’s entertainment, it seems one item will always beat the rest: the empty box.
Perhaps you left a shoe box on the floor after trying on your new sneakers. Or maybe it’s an empty shipping container from your last online order. Or perhaps you’re just trying to pack up the clothes before moving. No matter the reason, if an empty box is left out, the cats will find their way to it.
So why does you cat shun the expensive toys for an item destined for the recycling bin?
Simply put, a box is a great place to hide. This can be in reaction to stress, because your cat feels safe and secure and can observe from hiding while in a box. Boxes also play into your cat’s predatory instinct, providing a place to hide and stalk that toy mouse (or your feet). Corrugated cardboard can also provide insulation, helping keep your cat their preferred temperature, which is higher than that of most humans.
In the Wired.com article, What’s Up With That: Why Do Cats Love Boxes So Much?, they discuss a Dutch study where one group of shelter cats were provided hiding boxes and and another was deprived of them. The cats given the boxes exhibited less stress and were easier adapted to their new surroundings and the humans in them.
So, the next time you leave for a few days, throw a party at your house, or have some other situation that could be stressful for your cats, consider tossing a few boxes around. Your cats will probably appreciate it.
And now, for your enjoyment, we present to you Cats & Boxes: