Why Do Cats Like Boxes? Here’s the REAL Reason!

22December 2018

Cats in boxes are making cardboard cute all over the internet.

There are huge, fluffy cats in boxes, with their fur spilling over the edges.
There are little cats marooned in boxes that are far too big for them.
They look so silly!

But of course, they’re cats.
So they really don’t care.

My own furry family are big cardboard fans, too.
They love to see a little tower of boxes to meditate on.
But failing that, any random empty box will be fine.

A little while ago, I took the Cats in Boxes Experience to a whole new level.

A couple of months back, a huge box arrived at my back door.
My sister in Australia had been going through some of our parents’ stuff.
It was essentially a box full of family memories.
I slowly unwrapped my parents’ framed black-and-white wedding photo, the red glass bowl that was Mum’s favorite, and some of Dad’s old books.

It made me cry, I must admit.
It was surprisingly exhausting.
And so when I was done, I left the empty box on the living room floor.

The cats were gobsmacked.

This was the biggest cardboard box they’d ever seen.
They circled it in awe.
They gave it a sniff.
They put out tentative paws to see if all that cardboard could be real.
Hmmm, I thought.
What IS this fascination with cardboard?
Why do cats like boxes almost as much as the sound of a can opening?

I knew I had to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Why DO Cats Like Boxes So Much?

Plenty of experts think that the cats in boxes thing is all about a cat’s need for security.
Cats apparently feel safe in all that cardboard.
It taps into their primal instincts to hide, and ambush prey.

OK, maybe.

But I have my own theory.
I don’t think it’s about cat security at all.
I think the whole cats in boxes trend is about cats showing the humans who’s boss.
For 3 months now, that big box from my sister has sat in my living room.
It’s huge.
It’s ripped half to pieces.
And it’s the focal point of the room.

Friends come to visit, and burst out laughing.
The box is so shredded, it looks like a down-on-his-luck Freddy Kruger lives inside.

So why don’t I just throw it away?
There’s plenty of room in the recycling bin.

Well, obviously, I can’t.

The cats LOVE it.
They sleep in that raggedy cardboard box.
They hide toy mice in there.
They think they’re invisible inside the world of the magical box.

My cats love this tattered box so much that it just HAS to stay in the living room.
They get what they want because they’re so adorable.

So this is clearly a cat power play.
The cats in boxes trend is obviously all about feline domination.
Still don’t believe me?

How about this then…

Recently, I splashed out on a cat scratching post.
I thought it might stop the furry beasts tearing our sofa to pieces.

I put it strategically next to their beloved ripped up cardboard box.
There it was, right there in the middle of Scratching Territory.

Naturally, they completely ignored it.

They continue to casually shred that irresistible box.
Little scraps of cardboard make a daily mess all over the carpet.

The pretty new scratching post is untouched, for going on 2 months now.
Tell me that’s not an obvious cat power play!

It seems to me that there’s only one real answer to “Why do cats like boxes”?

And that is:

Cats in boxes are not looking for security.
They’re simply reminding their humans who’s boss.

Make no mistake: this is a power struggle.
And guess who wins – as usual?

So how long will the big, half-shredded cardboard box be in the living room?
Oh, I’m determined to throw it out, don’t worry.

But first I have to get rid of the other boxes which seem to building up rather quickly.
I’d better do it fast, before the cats bond with those boxes, too…
Check in with me in a year, and my house may just be made entirely of cardboard.

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Liz Hardy is the founder of, where cats are not just pets – they’re family.

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