Why Is My Cat So Obsessed With Boxes?
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Does your cat always end up inside the box after you open a new package?
While it might seem like one of your cat’s weirder behaviors, it’s actually pretty common. So why do cats like boxes so much?
The Dodo spoke with Dr. Vanessa Spano, a veterinarian at Behavior Vets in New York City, to get the scoop about your cat’s obsession with boxes.
Reasons why cats like boxes
Curling up inside a box is actually second nature to your cat.
“It's very instinctual,” Dr. Spano told The Dodo. “Believe it or not, wild cats also gravitate towards boxes!”
While nestling up inside a cardboard box is clearly comfortable for your cat, it also serves a purpose.
“It allows for a place to hide, both for safety purposes ([like] when they want to be alone) and to easily startle and then hunt, prey,” Dr. Spano said. “They are predators, after all!”
Instincts aside, your cat might also be obsessed with boxes because they provide things like:
- Insulation and heat
- Snugness and comfort
- Stress relief
Or maybe your cat’s just nosy!
“Cats are curious,” Dr. Spano explained. “They may just want to discover what this novel item in their environment is.”
Why you shouldn’t take a box away from your cat (right away)
It can be a little frustrating when you just ordered your cat a super nice bed and he’s more interested in sitting inside the box it came in.
You might think that your cat’s just distracted by the box, so taking it away will shift his focus to his cushy new bed.
But you might want to think twice before you hide that box away.
“Boxes may serve as a source of comfort and reduce stress,” Dr. Spano explained. “Taking away what they deem as a safe zone may actually increase stress.”
This doesn’t mean you have to spend years with a random cardboard box in the middle of the living room.
It just means you should turn your cat’s bed into another safe space for him before you ditch the box.
Get your cat to love his bed like he loves boxes
To turn that bed into a safe zone — to the point that he won’t miss hanging out in a box — make sure it has a bunch of the same qualities.
“Make sure the texture is soft, comfortable and insulating,” Dr. Spano said. “Consider purchasing a bed with higher walls to allow for easier ability to hide and decompress.”
Where you put the bed is just as important.
“Leave the bed in an area [he] gravitates to a lot, such as a quiet area, perhaps where sunlight is easily accessible,” Dr. Spano explained.
From there, it’s all about using positive reinforcement to help your cat realize his bed is somewhere he actually wants to be.
“Anytime your kitty happens to even just investigate the bed, make sure to immediately reward her with a favored toy or treat,” Dr. Spano said. “She should then associate that area with a reward and seek it out more frequently for the reward.”
And when your cat is actually lying on the bed and staying there, ramp up those rewards.
“Reserve high-value toys and treats for whenever she is on the bed,” Dr. Spano said.
Of course, if you don’t mind keeping that box around, your cat will be happy to have an extra spot to curl up for a cozy nap.
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