Anyone who has ever spent an unreasonable amount of money on a cat toy only to realize their cat is more excited about the box it came in than the toy itself has asked herself this question: Why are cats so obsessed with boxes?
It doesn’t matter what kind of box. Cardboard, shoebox, soda bottle box, wooden box — as long as it is a box, there is a 99.9 percent chance your cat will climb in it. “If it fits, it sits,” the saying goes, and I have yet to have my cat disprove this theory.
But why is this? What makes boxes so darn appealing to cats and why?
As it turns out, this appeal stems from the fact that your cat is one part stone-cold killer and two parts anxiety according to a veterinarian writing for VetStreet.
Boxes are the perfect stakeout
Cats are hunters. Some of them are more successful than others, but deep down in their bones, every cat is a natural-born predator.
They are also lovable creeps. I can’t count the number of times I have rounded a doorway only to have my cat leap out at me or dangled my toes too close to the shadows beneath the bed and been batted by a furry paw. Cats like hunting, and they like to hunt from a place of security.
Even large cats like panthers and mountain lions lurk. A hiding spot, like a tree limb or a box, offers your cat the perfect location to observe her prey (in my cat’s case, that would be my ankles) without being seen.
Then, when the moment is right, she pounces and retreats back to her box, either victorious with prey in her teeth or to wait for another attempt.
Boxes might be kitty Xanax
Cats are also a little more insecure than dogs. Dogs sprawl all over the house. Sure, some prefer kennels or cave-like hideouts, but most are happy to sleep on the floor, oblivious to any passing threat.
Cats prefer a little more security. Boxes offer cats a safe, dark, cozy place to nap, which is how they spend most of their time. Inside that box, your cat is blissfully unaware that you are snapping photos of her, and she is content to curl up in her new den and tune out the world.
Given a choice, cats will even choose a “box” made of a taped square on the ground. Don’t believe me? Search #CatSquare on Twitter or Instagram.
Regardless of the reason, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the best way to make your cat happy is to bring home a nice new cardboard box — maybe with a little something for yourself inside.