Cats must be liquid. Right?

A shoebox, a pizza box, a random container left over from an Amazon purchase you couldn't return. Your cat loves them all. Your cat sleeps in them, sits in them (if I fits,I sits), or hides in them while waiting for you to walk by so they can pounce and scratch your not-ready-for-summer legs (no judgement here, since the pandemic made it obvious that shaving is entirely overrated).

So why do our cats love boxes so much more than the ultra cute boutique brand cat bed you probably shouldn't have purchased? The answer has everything to do with their instinctual desire for comfort and security combined with a great vantage point for stalking prey.

cat in box with What the Fluff logo
Credit: Valerie Potapova / Adobe Stock

What Is It About Boxes That Your Cat Loves So Much?

Just like how your human child played with the box an expensive present came in instead of the gift itself, boxes are just too fun for cats. Here are a few reasons that make your leftover boxes so appealing to your kitty companion.

Boxes Are Perfect for Hiding

Tall, short, wide, or narrow, they are all the perfect size because cats are liquid (See here! Not really, but always hilarious). Cats need places to hide not just for fun and enrichment but for their mental health. Safe spaces hidden away from the hustle and bustle of households are a must for any cat to live their best life. Boxes that are readily available and easily accessible make convenient hideouts.

Boxes Are Just Comfy 

Live with a cat and you discover how important it is to them to have lots of comfortable resting spaces. Cats need to feel secure when they rest, as they are instinctually always on high alert thanks to their feline predator DNA. A box provides an easy hideaway for naps, and since they are free from frilly blankets or tangle-y sheets, they make it a cinch for your little kitty carnivore to make a quick getaway if needed.

Boxes Are Clean (Usually)

Even though your cat may enjoy a siesta in a stinky shoe box every now and then, most of the time boxes are not heavily smelly. For the scent-discerning cat, this makes a box an ideal place to lounge, while also making it less attractive to other potential predators. Empty boxes offer a clean space, too, which is preferable to cats that like a clean bedroom.

How are Cats Able to Fit into Boxes of All Sizes?

Cats are predators and the ability to quickly maneuver their way into a space, no matter the size, is crucial to their success. Cats that are on the hunt for small, fast-moving prey (or your hand) need to be able to hide and then suddenly jump out and attack, catching their prey in one fast move. Their body makes this possible since felines are uniquely flexible.

James R. Richard, a scientist at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine says that cats come equipped with a wonderfully agile body structure that includes a free-floating clavicle (collarbone). They also have a supple spine with malleable disks and shoulder blades that are attached to the rest of their body by muscle instead of bone.

Whatever the reason your feisty feline friend seeks out your leftover cardboard from late-night online shopping sprees, one thing is for sure: Cats are purr-fectly weird, hiss-terical, and paw-some (I love cat puns) … and you can probably save your money the next time you want to buy a fancy cat bed.