Reasons Why Cats Love Cardboard

why do cats like boxes

It’s no secret that cats, big or small, love cardboard boxes. They love to sit in them, hide in them, sleep them, or rip them up. There is a great attraction between cats and cardboard boxes. This is one of those things we always accept as a fact but what’s actually the reason behind it?

Also, how can you make sure that your cat is safe while playing with the cardboard box that your delivery came in?

Cat & Friends explains: why do cats like cardboard boxes so much?

Cats like cardboard boxes for several reasons; they provide shelter, cardboard is a great insulator, boxes are ideal for scratching and chewing, and they make great toys for cats who are aways looking to explore and enact the hunt.

Cats have so many different personalities, but there is one thing that is universally true for all cats. Cats absolutely LOVE cardboard boxes.
We all know that kitties big and small enjoy cardboard boxes, the reasons for it may be a bit of a head-scratcher. Why do cats like cardboard boxes so much? It turns out there are a couple of simple reasons for it.

For the fun of it

One of the most straightforward reasons cats enjoy cardboard boxes is; ‘for the fun of it!’. Cats are playful creatures, and they have a lively fantasy when it comes to playing.

Just like our kids enjoy playing with boxes, they’re also an ideal toy for cats. You can hide inside of it, peek out through a hole and imagine having your own castle.

Cats do not need expensive and complicated toys; they are perfectly happy with a simple thread of yarn, crumpled up paper or,… a cardboard box.

It’s a lot of fun sitting inside the box to cats, hiding from humans and other cats while peeking out of a small hole. They can play hide and seek, either with themselves or with another playmate.

Delivery people are a cat’s best friend, especially when they deliver stuff that comes in a box.

Boxes provide shelter

Cats like to sit in small and confined places. It helps them to feel comfortable and safe.

While your home is likely a safe place for your kitty, it will still try to find a corner to squeeze into. Be it under a couch, on top or under a cupboard, or behind a plant.

Cats like to observe the world around them from a spot where they can see everything, but others won’t quickly notice them. Boxes provide the perfect hide-out.

Since a box has only one way in and out when inside, cats only need to watch the opening for possible intruders. This adds to the feeling of safety.

Because of cat instincts

Instincts are necessary wiring that is baked into every living thing’s brain and serves as a mechanism for our survival.

Domestic cats no longer need to rely on their instincts as much as when they lived in the wild, but the hunter/predator instinct in cats is powerful.

Even though cats know it is only play, they still like to simulate the hunt, and boxes provide the perfect shelter from which they can stalk and ambush their prey.

Your cat will really enjoy it when you act out this game together with them. You can do this by dangling a toy, some yarn, or feather outside the box while they’re inside. Your cat will pounce and try to catch this prey from its hide-out box.

Boxes provide warmth and coziness

You might not have noticed or thought of it, but cardboard is really good at retaining heat. If there is anything a cat loves, it is warmth and coziness.

Cardboard boxes are the ideal place for a cat to sleep in, and they will often choose it above that expensive cat bed you bought for them.

Give your cat a simple but perfect sleeping pod by finding a nice cardboard box and put a cloth inside of it, like a towel or a fleece blanket. She will love it, and it will likely become her favorite chill-out spot.

Boxes are ideal for scratching and chewing

Cardboard boxes are great for scratching, sharpening claws, and cleaning teeth. Cardboard is really good at retaining a cat’s personal scent, which is another reason why they enjoy it so much.

Scratching and biting it will help transfer their scent to the cardboard and make it their own. You will often notice that the cat chews or rubs its mouth over the edges; this rubs its scent onto the box.

Another reason why cats like to scratch and bite the cardboard goes back to their hunting instincts. They see the confined space of the box as the perfect place to rip up their (imaginary) prey… yuck!

Are cardboard boxes safe for cats?

Generally, cardboard boxes are perfectly safe for cats to play with. You can do a few things to prepare a box for your kitty and prevent it from getting hurt.

  • Remove any left-over staples or other sharp objects.
  • Remove any rope, rubber bands, or loose tape to reduce the risk of your cat choking on small pieces of plastic.
  • If the box has cut-outs, make sure they cannot get their heads stuck in one of them. It’s best to cut these holes to larger sizes.

How to make a cardboard playhouse for your cat (DIY)?

If you really want to go all-out and transform a regular ol’ box into a wonderful cat-playhouse, watch the below video on how to spoil your cat with one.

She will love you for it.

If you’d rather buy a ready-made cardboard box cat playhouse, there’s plenty of choice at Amazon.

How to make a cat birthing box

If your cat is ready to give birth, she will really enjoy a safe, cozy, and warm place. Cats are usually pretty good at finding a birthing place, but you can help her prepare one.

This can be a cardboard box that’s big enough for her to lie down in and with tall enough sides, so the kittens won’t fall out. Line it with plastic and then newspaper, which is easily removed if it becomes soiled, and cover it with a blanket.

Read more about how to prepare a birthing box for your queen at the RoyalCanin website.

Tom Alexander is a life-long cat parent and enjoys sharing a home with his cat Max and his family. Being a devoted cat person, his passion for everything feline and blogging is the driving force behind As the founder and editor at Cat & Friends, Tom aims to provide an interesting and great resource for cat owners.

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