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How to Use Cat Tunnels

how to use cat tunnels

Cats usually love to play by hiding in things. Whether it’s an open paper bag or a box, your playful cat will find a way to make a game out of jumping in it or will use it as an opportunity for an extra napping place. It’s an important part of environmental enrichment to be supply those things for your cat’s fun and convenience but those bags and boxes can serve an even more important function in your cat’s life as well. They can provide security.

The Value of Cat Tunnels

If you have a cat who spends most of her time under the bed or in the closet, because she’s too frightened to step out into the open, you can use boxes and bags (along with commercially available kitty tunnels) to increase her comfort zone. The use of homemade or store-bought tunnels will allow a frightened cat to be able to feel protected enough so she can start to step out from her anchored hiding spot.

A frightened or unsure cat often chooses to remain as invisible as possible when having to navigate around a room. She may walk behind furniture or stay on the perimeter of the room. To walk through the open, more exposed center of a room requires more confidence. If your cat spends so much time in hiding, increase her comfort level so she’ll begin to explore more through the use of tunnels.

Pearl in tunnel with toy

photo: Pam Johnson-Bennett

Types of Cat Tunnels

You can buy soft-sided cat tunnels at your local pet product store or you can make your own. To make a paper bag tunnel, cut the bottoms of a few bags, then fully open them. Roll a one-inch cuff on the ends of each bag to increase the sturdiness. This will prevent the bags from collapsing so easily. Then, tape the bags end to end to form a tunnel.

three books by Pam Johnson-Bennett and a quote from AHA


To make a box tunnel, the easiest thing to do is to try to find a long box so you don’t have to tape a couple of boxes together. You can either cut the flaps off or tape them so they stay in the open position. If the box is big and your cat is small, you can leave one flap hanging down to provide just enough room for her to enter the tunnel while still offering more hiding ability.

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