What’s Up With That: Why Do Cats Love Boxes So Much?

She found a significant difference in stress levels between cats that had the boxes and those that didn’t. In effect, the cats with boxes got used to their new surroundings faster, were far less stressed early on, and were more interested in interacting with humans.

It makes sense when you consider that the first reaction of nearly all cats to a stressful situation is to withdraw and hide. “Hiding is a behavioral strategy of the species to cope with environmental changes and stressors,” Vinke said in an email.

This is as true for cats in the wild as it is for those in your home. Only instead of retreating to tree tops, dens, or caves, yours may find comfort in a shoe box.

I can totally sympathise with this. Sometimes I think I need a cardbox at work too?

Also we’re about to move house with three cats which is always stessful for them, so perhaps a judicial distribution of cardboard boxes around the new place will help them adjust.

According to a 2006 study by the National Research Council, the thermoneutral zone for a domestic cat is 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the range of temperatures in which cats are “comfortable” and don’t have to generate extra heat to keep warm or expend metabolic energy on cooling. That range also happens to be 20 degrees higher than ours, which explains why it’s not unusual to see your neighbor’s cat sprawled out on the hot asphalt in the middle of a summer day, soaking in the sunlight.

It also explains why many cats may enjoy curling up in tiny cardboard boxes and other strange places. Corrugated cardboard is a great insulator and confined spaces force the cat to ball up or form some other impossible object, which in turn helps it to preserve body heat.

That might also explain our cats’ attraction to things like our printer, network routers, the PS4, and sitting behind or in front of the TV.