Whether it’s a shoe box, shipping box, or even an open drawer – you wouldn’t be the first to wonder, why do cats like boxes? Or rather, why do cats end up gravitating towards enclosed spaces that seem to fit them snug as a bug in a rug?

Turns out, rather than just a quirky preference, your cat’s love for snug spots has a lot to do with their instinctive behaviors. The same behaviors that lead them to wander, hunt, and explore…and often end up too far away from home, away from safety. (Or just plain stuck.)

So let’s dive right into some of the reasons why cats like boxes – and how you can keep them safe if they end up exploring outdoors for more “boxes”, or spaces that are a bit too…well, comfy for comfort.

Why do cats like boxes? 4 key reasons underlying this instinct

No matter how much of a goofball your cat is otherwise, much of their behavior draws from instincts that haven’t changed much from their wild cat ancestors.

So underlying the reason why cats like boxes are instincts like seeking:


Cats often seek out warm, cozy spots – and a confined space helps them conserve body heat. The smaller the box, the more quickly your cat’s body warms up the space, creating a snug, comfy environment.

If you’ve got an outdoor cat, a heated outdoor cat house can work wonders to provide them some warmth and comfort in the colder months. (While also allowing them the space to wander outdoors.)

Read more:

A cat sitting in an outdoor wooden house

⚠️ This is also one reason you might find your cat under the hood of a car or some other “snug” spot near your warm, humming automobiles.

Always make sure to check beneath your car before driving off, since your cat might’ve huddled underneath for some warmth!


At the heart of why cats like boxes is the sense of comfort and security it provides. In the wild, cats are both predators and prey – so an enclosed space offers protection from any threats.

So when your feline friend has a major fall-out with a local neighbourhood bully, they will probably hide until all problems are away. In fact, a study even found that cats with a “hiding spot” are less stressed out and more open to interacting with humans than those without one.1

A box – or more broadly, a snug space – offers your cat a secure hiding spot from where they can observe their surroundings without being seen. This sense of safety is crucial for their well-being – helping them both feel safe and less stressed. (Which is where alternatives like cat perches and even cardboard cat boxes with soft cloth linings can come in handy.)

⚠️ Which can be a challenge if your cat picks a risky hiding spot, like:

  • A washer (or dryer)
  • Your garage
  • A cabinet, cupboard, or even a drawer – where they might get stuck
  • Rafters – where, if they’re too close to a window, they can fall and injure themselves

Read more: Why Is My Cat Hiding? 5 Reasons Why & What To Do

💡So imagine being able to track your missing cat indoors – with just a glance at your phone?

It’s why cat parents around the world – just like you – are strapping GPS trackers to their buddies’ collars.

Because with a Bluetooth GPS tracker like Tractive attached to your cat’s collar, you can quickly and easily locate your cat indoors in 3 ways:

Tractive GPS Cat Tracker at CES
  • Switch on Radar Mode to track your cat via your phone’s Bluetooth features.
  • Enable Augmented Reality (AR) mode to see a pin with an overlay with your cat’s name on it.
  • Locate your cat visually or audibly via Light and Sound – either trigger an LED light or a high-pitched melody from your cat’s tracker.

All with just a glance at your phone – and in case your cat isn’t responding to your calls.

Which, in some cases, could even end up saving your cat’s life.

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Cats are super sleepers – clocking in 18-20 hours of sleep per day! Making sleep another reason why cats like boxes, since they offer space spots for cats to nap.

So no matter how much of a sociable your cat might be, they’re likely to see out a cozy spot a little away from everyone else to hide from social engagements and just relax.

A cat sleeping in a cardboard box

💡Besides location tracking, your trusty Tractive device is built with your cat’s safety in mind – including their health, well-being, and also their sleep.

A cat sleeping in the background with Tractive Sleep tracking in foreground

With its built-in motion detector, your Tractive Sleep Monitor picks up on your cat’s movements throughout the day – and also when they’re asleep.

Which, with time, can help you figure out:

  • What’s a normal amount of sleep for your cat
  • How much quality sleep they’ve gotten
  • Whether there’s been an abnormal change in your cat’s sleep patterns – which, in some cases, can indicate health issues, like cat dementia
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And finally, one of the prime reasons your cat likes enclosed spaces draws from their wild ancestors – and your cat’s innate hunting instincts.

Cats are natural hunters and boxes help them conceal themselves from “prey.” (Yes, no matter how well-fed they are.)

  • A box allows them a vantage point from where they can stalk and pounce on unsuspecting prey. (Whether that’s a toy, bug, or even at your feet as you pass by.)
  • This behavior mimics how wild cats hide and ambush their prey – and it keeps your cat both physically and mentally active.
A cat hiding in a drawer

⚠️ But while a box offers your cat a controlled environment where they feel safe, it’s these hunting instincts that are a prime reason why cats run away from home.

Cats are inherently curious and in the wild, exploring for new territory helps them find food, shelter, and mates. And in many ways, domestic cats aren’t much different from their wild ancestors – wanting to investigate every nook and cranny of their environment.

Now on one hand, exploring keeps your cat active and mentally stimulated. On the other hand, there’s always the risk your cat might:

  • Wander too far away from home – and end up lost
  • Get injured by a passing vehicle, another animal, or person
  • End up eating something that’s toxic to them
  • Get stolen by a pet thief
  • Find a “box” – or a snug spot – where they end up stuck and unable to escape
A cat sitting on a fence

So to keep your buddy safe outdoors, it makes sense to:

  • Inform your friends and neighbors, so they can alert you if they see your cat wandering around outdoors. (Or help you with a physical search in a missing cat scenario.)
  • Get your cat used to wearing a collar and ID tag, at the very minimum.
  • Get your cat microchipped. In under 10 minutes, a vet can painlessly implant a microchip in your cat’s shoulder blades. So it’s now a permanent ID tag for your cat, including your contact details.

And most importantly…

  • Switch on LIVE on your Tractive device – and follow your missing cat’s every step, as they make their every step.
Live tracking Cat GPS tracker

Because with a Tractive GPS strapped to your cat’s collar, you now have a sky full of satellites helping you track your cat:

  • In real-time,
  • Over an unlimited range,
  • As they move through their favorite spots around town with their Heat Map and Location History
  • And even marking out their territory (So you know where to look first, in case they get lost.)
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Let your cat explore with 100% peace of mind at every step

The box – or every snug spot your buddy can find – is just a place for your cat to kick back, relax, and also:

  • Seek warmth through body heat
  • De-stress, especially if they can survey their surroundings without being seen
  • Get a restful sleep
  • Plan that perfect hunting attempt – whether indoors or outdoors

Meaning, it’s not just boxes – but rather every box-like item – including enclosed spaces like drawers, shopping bags, and even kettles that can do it for cats.

The rule is: If it fits, I sits!

So make sure to keep some perches and vertical spaces around for your cat to safely “hide” in. And watch out for their tendency to explore and potentially get stuck in “boxes” they might find outdoors.

Plus, if you want to guarantee your cat’s safety at every step

Know everywhere your cat goes

See where they are in real-time, no matter how far they go. Get alerts if they roam too far home. Find out where they’ve been and discover their favorite spots. Let others track with you.

Discover Cat GPS Trackers

Curious what the experts have to say about cats and their penchant for boxes? Here’s Hank Green from SciShow sharing his thoughts:

And if you’ve liked this post, share it with a friend or a loved one – and let’s help build a safer, kinder world for our furry friends together.