Why do cats play in boxes

Cats are fascinating creatures, capable of capturing our hearts with their adorable antics and mysterious behaviors. Among their many peculiar habits, one that never fails to amuse and puzzle us is their inexplicable adoration for boxes. Whether it’s a small cardboard container or a spacious packaging from an online delivery, cats seem to find irresistible joy in claiming these confined spaces as their own. But what exactly drives our feline friends to dive headfirst into a cardboard oasis? Let’s explore the reasons why cats love to play in boxes:

A cat in a box
Cats love boxes
  1. Instinctual Behavior

At their core, cats are instinctual predators. They possess an innate drive to seek out enclosed spaces, much like their wild ancestors would have done. Boxes mimic the cozy and secure dens that cats would naturally gravitate towards in the wild. These enclosed spaces provide a sense of safety, allowing them to observe their surroundings while remaining partially hidden from potential threats. This instinctual behavior is deeply ingrained in their DNA and persists even in domesticated cats.

  1. Curiosity and Exploration

Cats are naturally curious creatures, perpetually on the lookout for new sights, sounds, and smells. When a box appears in their environment, their inquisitive nature is piqued. Boxes present an exciting opportunity for exploration. They offer a world of mystery and discovery, inviting cats to investigate every nook and cranny. By squeezing into a box, cats can indulge their innate curiosity while simultaneously engaging their hunting instincts, providing them with mental stimulation and a sense of purpose.

  1. Cozy Retreats

Boxes provide cats with cozy retreats where they can unwind and relax. These confined spaces create a sense of warmth and security, making cats feel snug and protected. By curling up inside a box, cats can experience the pleasure of their body’s warmth being reflected back to them. This feeling of comfort can be especially appealing to cats during stressful or overwhelming situations, as it allows them to find solace and retreat from the world.

  1. Territory Marking

Cats are known to be territorial animals, and their love for boxes is closely intertwined with this behavior. When a cat claims a box as its own, it is essentially marking its territory. By leaving their scent on the box, cats assert ownership and create a familiar and safe space for themselves. This territorial marking behavior helps cats establish a sense of security and control over their environment, promoting their overall well-being.

  1. Playful Hideouts

Boxes also serve as ideal hiding spots for cats during playtime. Cats have a natural inclination to engage in stalking and pouncing behaviors, mimicking their hunting instincts. When cats hide inside a box, it becomes a strategic vantage point from which they can plan and execute their surprise attacks on unsuspecting toys or unsuspecting passersby. The element of surprise and the confined space within the box amplify their playfulness and make the entire experience more enjoyable.


The irresistible allure of boxes for cats is a testament to their complex nature and their instinctual behaviors. From providing a sense of security and comfort to serving as intriguing play areas, boxes offer a multitude of benefits that cater to a cat’s natural inclinations. So the next time you receive a package or spot an empty box lying around, consider leaving it out for your feline companion. It’s a simple gesture that can bring immense joy and entertainment to your furry friend while allowing them to indulge in their natural instincts. After all, what’s a cardboard box to us humans is a treasure trove of adventure and comfort to our beloved feline companions.