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Why Do Cats Like Boxes and Bags?

Why Do Cats Like Boxes and Bags?

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Does it seem like the only thing cats like playing with these days are boxes and bags? It’s so funny that your cat would rather play in the box the toys came in rather than the box!

Science actually provides a good reason as to why cats like boxes and bags so much!

It turns out liking boxes and bags above anything else isn’t your cat rebelling, but instead is a preference wired within your cat’s brain as it adapted to new environments.

Keep reading to find out why.

1. Cats find comfort in closed spaces

Like with most funny things cats do, it starts with instinct. For example, a study conducted by the University of Utrecht showed that a particular group of cats living in a shelter suffered from a significant amount of stress.

When these cats were given a “hiding box,” their stress levels significantly decreased allowing them to recover faster in their new environment.

On the other hand, the cats who weren’t given a “hiding box,” showed higher stress levels and a much longer recovery time.

This is because when cats are in stressful situations, they usually retreat and hide.

This is a behavior strategy cats use and a box is able to help them regroup while also offering protection from possible predators.

Black Cat

2. Boxes Help Reduce Anxiety

A quote from the book, The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behaviour, says that cats aren’t good as solving conflict as good as other animals, so cats manage conflict by avoiding others or minimizing their activity.

Cats are easily made anxious. They are more likely to hide rather than confront whatever is making them anxious.

Boxes and bags help ease anxiety for cats, therefore cats are drawn to them.

**FELINE FACT** Did you know that according to Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, anxiety caused by conflict is the most common reason why most health problems surface in multiple indoor cat households?

3. Good for a warm and cozy nap 

According to a 2006 study by the National Research Council, a domestic cat’s internal temperature of comfort is around 86-97 degrees Fahrenheit, about 20 degrees higher than humans’ temperature of comfort.

The same study showed that the average household temperature was 72 degrees Fahrenheit, 14 degrees colder than a domestic cat’s temperature of comfort.

Boxes and some bags are able to function as makeshift incubators, keeping our cats warm in houses that are probably too cold for them.

Cats actively seek out these confined spaces that help them conserve body heat. This makes boxes and bags the perfect place for a nice warm and cozy nap.

This is very important – Live Science reports cats sleep up to 20 hours a day!

adorable, animal, art

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Cats love playing with bags. Take for instance the crinkle sound coming from a regular paper bag, this can be especially entertaining and mentally stimulating for a kitty.

According to Pet Health Network cats can be attracted to plastic bags because sometimes they can carry the scent or even the taste of food (if the bag is coming from a grocery store).

Many of the plastic grocery bags are also coated in cornstarch or made with animal by-products such as gelatin making them very appealing for cats to lick and sometimes chew.

Grey Kitten on Silver Paper Bag

The Dangers of Bags

If your cat chews on plastic bags, know that this can be dangerous to your cat’s health.

To prevent chewing, I recommend disposing all of your plastic bags immediately by placing them in an area your cat cannot access.

Chewing plastic bags could also cause dental health issues. Annual trips to the vet to check your cat’s dental health are very important.

Note that plastic bags (especially dry-cleaner bags) ARE NOT safe for your cat, and it is NOT recommended that cats play with them.

However, there are many other types of bags that are safe for your cat to play with. As the Humane Society states, don’t forget to take the handles off of any bag before giving it to your kitty because they risk getting stuck inside them and choking.

How To Make Bags Safe For Your Cat

Some safe bags for your kitty to play with are:

  • Paper bags (without handles): These still have that beloved crinkle noise and are good to lay on.
  • Cloth bags (without strings or handles): These are soft and can keep your cat warm.
  • Cat Nip Bags: These bags will quickly become your cat’s new obsession. They’re infused with cat nip to give your cat a fantastic sensory experience when they play in them!

Click here to get your cat some cat nip infused bags.

How to turn boxes and bags into the ultimate gift 

Now that you understand why your cat loves playing with boxes and bags, here are some innovative ways to transform your own boxes and bags into presents your cat will definitely enjoy!

  • Tunnel: Simply open up both ends of a narrow box so your kitty can slinky itself back and forth. Your cat will love being able to warmly snuggle up inside and watch the world from his/her safe place.
  • Kitty Cubby: Take an open box and place a nice blanket at the bottom. Then, tape the box up and cut a hole at the bottom just big enough for your cat’s body to comfortably fit through, and voilà! Your cat has a new cozy sleeping quarter! 
  • Scratching Post: Cardboard is great material for a scratching post. Just cut pieces of cardboard and glue inside a box using non-toxic glue. Make sure the wrinkled side faces out, and you’re done!
  • Food Puzzle: Add some goodies inside a bag, twist it shut, and watch your kitty start to forage as he/she is naturally inclined.
  • Kitty Cave: Similar to the Kitty Cubby, but the Kitty Cave is just wide-open paper bag with a towel inside for your cat to sleep on.
White Kitten on Brown Folded Cardboard Box

Keep your boxes and bags because cats love them!

Cats are natural predators. When they are confined inside all day, they get bored. You can make being an inside cat fun!

Cats are athletic and flexible animals – playing with boxes and bags gives them a chance to stay active. 

Boxes help cats cope effectively with stressful and unfamiliar environments, and bags are entertaining and keep your cat agile and alert.

To cats, box and boxes are stress reliving, insulating, comfort zones where kitties can be themselves, sleep, play and explore.

Cats grow more into themselves by playing with bags and boxes. This is why you should safely repurpose your bags and boxes for your cat to enjoy!

QUESTION: Does your cat like boxes and bags? Tell us why in the comments below!

Conclusion: Why Do Cats Love Boxes and Bags?

  1. Cats find comfort in small, semi-enclosed spaces.
  2. Cats like the smell of groceries or food on bags.
  3. Boxes and bags are great insulators that help cats feel warm and cozy.

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Evelyn. Pompey

Sunday 11th of June 2023

My Cat Simian actually took my top & bottoms out of a bag I had brought bk from my Dad's when I stayed over Easter & Get this he actually put them in the corner & crawled in & fell asleep lol

Charlene Chandler

Tuesday 27th of August 2019

Our cat loves boxes and bags but after awhile he will poop in them. Was wondering why he do that.


Thursday 29th of August 2019

Hi Charlene. Make sure his litter box is always clean and inviting so he chooses the litter box over anything else.


Wednesday 14th of August 2019

I have 2 dogs and one cat. My dogs sometimes tease the cat by chasing her. She loves hopping in her box like na na na boo boo… this way they can't get to her because they can't jump in there. I have little dogs. I keep two boxes in the kitchen and my granddaughter has made a makeshift "door" on one of the boxes that we keep in the living room. She loves that one to get away from the dogs as well. She also uses the boxes for a nap or just to get away and be on her own.

cynthia fannin

Tuesday 13th of August 2019

All 5 of my cat's esp 3 yr old Max, loves bags,boxes and even carry's items to his favorite box!

Patty Johnson

Monday 11th of February 2019

I wish my cat liked this it's such a hassle to get he in the carrier it's fabric with screening so she can see out also lamb's wool pad on the bottom. I guess she is the excepetion to the rule

anne blaha

Saturday 28th of September 2019

My 3 cats have absolutely no intrest in the catnip bags, but they do love catnip.