Like many other really weird things cats do, science hasn’t fully cracked this particular feline mystery… but there are a few hints!
There’s the obvious predation advantage a box affords: Cats are ambush predators, and boxes provide great hiding places to stalk prey from (and retreat to). But there’s clearly more going on here.
Your fuzzy companion derives comfort and security from enclosed spaces. This is likely true for a number of reasons, but for cats in these often stressful situations, a box or some other type of separate enclosure (within the enclosures they’re already in) can have a profound impact on both their behavior and physiology. It makes sense when you consider that the first reaction of nearly all cats to a stressful situation is to withdraw and hide.
It’s also important to note that cats really suck at conflict resolution. So rather than work things out, cats are more inclined to simply run away from their problems or avoid them altogether. A box, in this sense, can often represent a safe zone, a place where sources of anxiety, hostility, and unwanted attention simply disappear.
The ‘If it fits, I sits’ principle
Astute feline observers will note that in addition to boxes, many cats seem to pick other odd places to relax. Some curl up in a bathroom sink.
Others prefer shoes, bowls, shopping bags, coffee mugs, empty egg cartons, and other small, confined spaces, which brings us to the other reason your cat may like particularly small boxes (and other seemingly uncomfortable places): It’s friggin’ cold out!
That 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.
Boxes are insulating, stress-relieving, comfort zones—places where cats can hide, relax, sleep, and they can also be fun 🙂 for occasionally launching a sneak attack!
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