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Cats love to squeeze into shoeboxes, small cardboard boxes, or just about anything else they can find. Even if they’re too big to fit comfortably, they’ll make do. So, why do cats like small spaces?

As it turns out, there are some pretty interesting reasons behind this. Here’s a look at why they’ll often exhibit this type of funny, endearing type of cat behavior.

Why Do Cats Like Small Spaces Like Boxes And Other Nooks And Crannies?

Cat parents know that their feline family members like to hide every once in a while. One of the main reasons why has to do with their ancestry. Your pampered kitty might not have any real experience regarding how tough the outside world can be. After all, your pet gets plenty to eat, a clean litter box, and comfy places to sleep. But they do have an instinctual sense that they need to protect themselves.

why do cats like small spaces | Ultimate Pet NutritionA lot of what makes up your cat’s personality is instinct. This is deep-rooted, going back thousands of thousands of years. Domestic cats have it easy, but they still share a lot with their wild ancestors. They know, for instance, how to hunt and stalk prey, and they practice these skills whenever they can.1 That’s one of the reasons why you might receive a playful paw swipe once in a while as you walk by.

Cats also have a well-ingrained sense of self-defense. Most of the time, they’ll curl up into a ball to sleep so they don’t expose their belly. This sense of self-preservation has a lot to do with why cats love enclosed spaces. When something stresses them out, or they just want a snug spot to hang out, they’ll head for a box or a shelf closet.2

A small space makes a great hiding spot. It’s even better if this spot is in an elevated position, such as a cat tree. This is another example of instinctual behavior. Cats like to be up high. Doing so makes it hard for their predators to get to them.3

What’s The Deal With Tiny And Enclosed Spaces? Cats Love To Feel Safe, Secure, And Tucked In

cat in box | Ultimate Pet NutritionDon’t assume that just because your feline friend cozies up in a small space that your pet is scared or stressed. It might just be that they feel most comfortable sleeping that way. Your cat likes to sleep in a certain position just like you do. Domesticated cats may be on guard, like their ancestors and their cousins in the wild, but they also know when they have it good.4

Aside from being a comfortable place to snooze, a cardboard box might also be enticing because it’s warm. Cats like it warmer than most humans. If they think your floor is too cold, a nearby box will be a great place to take a nap.5

Another possible reason cats love cardboard boxes and other confined spaces is that they give them a sense of security. Curling up into a small space might feel a lot like a warm hug to a cat. You’ve probably heard of special shirts that some dog parents give their pets when there’s a thunderstorm? The shirt acts sort of like a perpetual hug, giving them comfort. The same principle may apply to a cat snuggling in a box.6

Did You Just Bring Home A New Cat? Consider Getting Some Cardboard Boxes

kitten in cardboard box | Ultimate Pet Nutrition

If you recently added a new kitty to your family, you might want to think about getting a few cardboard boxes of different sizes. Not only will they provide a lot of entertainment for your new pet, it might even help them adjust to their new home.

Researchers conducted a study on shelter cats using boxes. They gave “hiding boxes” to one group of cats, while the other cats had no boxes. According to the results, the shelter cats who had boxes to snuggle in showed lower levels of stress than the other group. They not only adjusted faster to their new surroundings, they also showed more interest in interacting with the researchers.7

What Are Some Other Common Small Spaces That Cats Love? Drawers, Behind Curtains, Under Furniture, And More

You’d be surprised how creative cats can get when it comes to finding a place to hide out. If you’ve ever gone looking for your cat around the house, you know. They can get almost anywhere. Here are just a few potential kitty hiding places you might not have previously considered.

  • why do cats like small spaces | Ultimate Pet NutritionA paper grocery bag
  • Under your couch
  • Behind your curtains
  • In the very back corner of your closet
  • Your bathroom sink or bathtub
  • Inside an open suitcase or backpack
  • Under your bed8

What Are Some Hiding Spots In Your Home That May Be Dangerous For Your Beloved Cat?

As cute as it can be when you see that your cat has found a new space in which to hide out, it can sometimes be perilous for them. Your feline friend might, for instance, sneak into a closet without you even noticing. Always double check to make sure your kitty isn’t hiding there before you close the closet door.

cat in closet | Ultimate Pet NutritionDo you keep cleaning products and other items with potentially dangerous chemicals in the cabinet under the kitchen or bathroom sink? Make sure you keep that door closed at all times. If you have a particularly clever cat who knows how to open cabinet doors, use a childproof lock.9

If you have young children, you should think about making sure the door remains closed when no one is in their bedroom. Toys with small, removable parts could potentially pose a choking risk to your cat. Put those toys away, and keep the door closed to be on the safe side.10

Hopefully, you have a little better of an idea as to why cats like boxes and other enclosed spaces. If you have some room in your home, leave out a few cardboard boxes of different sizes. Your cat will have a blast, and they’ll also have a safe, secure spot to curl up for a snooze.

Learn More:
Your Cat’s Facial Expressions: A Guide To Cat Expression
Where Should My Cat Sleep At Night Time? Info For Pet Parents
DIY Pets: How To Make A Flirt Pole Toy For Your Dog Or Cat