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Why Cats Love Cardboard: 6 Reasons For This Behavior

Ed Malaker

By Ed Malaker

scottish fold cat resting in a cardborad box

As a cat owner, you know that one of the most frustrating things is when you spend a lot of money on a new toy only to have your cat ignore it completely, choosing to play with the cardboard box it came in instead. If you have experienced this behavior from your cat and would like to know why your cat does this.

Keep reading while we list as many reasons why cats love cardboard as possible to help you understand your pet better.


The 6 Reasons Why Cats Love Cardboard

1. Cats Like to Play

cat playing cardboard
Image Credit: Piqsels

Cats love to play games, especially hunting games, and one of their favorites is lying in wait for an unsuspecting victim to pass by and pouncing. Cats will find many clever hiding spots from which to play this game, but a cardboard box is ideal, and your cat will see its value immediately if it can get inside.

2. It Provides Insulation

Many cats hate the cold weather despite their heavy coat and enjoy the cardboard boxes’ insulating effect. The inside of a cardboard box does an excellent job of retaining the cat’s natural body heat, allowing it to maintain a stable temperature while it sleeps that’s closer to what it feels is ideal.

3. Protection

cat inside his DIY box house
ImagE Credit: Piqsels

Not only does a cardboard box provide a great place to hide while waiting for unsuspecting victims, but it’s also ideal for hiding from potential predators. Cats feel safe when they are inside the box and seem to think you can’t see them, even if their tail or other parts of the body hang out.

Since they make the cat feel safe, they are a great hiding spot from the garbage truck that sends many cats scurrying and looking for shelter and other similar perceived dangers, including fireworks.

4. It’s Comfortable

Not only does cardboard do an excellent job of retaining body heat, but it can also be quite comfortable due to its multilayer design. Cats will often seek out a cardboard surface to sleep on if one is available, and they seem to sleep a bit longer. The cardboard can also form to shape of the body, making it more comfortable as you use it more frequently.

5. Cats Can Scratch and Chew It

white cat lying on cardboard
Image Credit: Piqsels

Another reason cats seem to like cardboard even when they can’t hide inside it is that the soft yet durable surface is perfect for scratching. In fact, many commercial scratching posts already use cardboard, and it’s not difficult to design one. Cats can also sink their teeth into the lightweight cardboard without worrying about injuring them, and it can help keep them clean.

6. No Chemical Smell

Many commercial cat toys, especially box-type toys, can have a strong chemical smell that cats don’t like. Cats have extremely sensitive noses and can pick up scents we cannot, and if they don’t like the scent, they will avoid it. Cardboard has a more natural smell because it is natural, so it is much more inviting to your cat.

Cardboard is also biodegradable, so it’s better for the environment, and while our cat might not care, we sure do.

Where Can I Find Cardboard?

We’re willing to bet that you have several boxes in your home already that you can use. You can also purchase boxes inexpensively at many grocery stores and hobby shops. One of the best places to find them is near the dumpster behind many large retail stores, where you will likely find boxes of all sizes that you can usually take free of charge.

Finding boxes at stores gives you more versatility than you could have if you needed to purchase them, and the boxes you retrieve are usually of a higher quality than the ones you buy.


Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, there is no way to ask a cat why it likes cardboard, but after having several cats and watching them all play with it, we believe that cats like it because they can sink their teeth and claws into it when needed, and it also provides them a comfortable place to hide to ambush prey or to hide from predators.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this short guide, and that it has helped you understand your cat better. If you have learned something new, please share our look into the reasons why cats love cardboard on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: Tanya Dol, Shutterstock

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