Cardboard boxes are a beneficial addition to your cat’s environment. Sure, they’re fun to jump in and out of, but they also serve multiple valuable social and emotional functions.
Environmental enrichment is important for a cat’s mental, emotional and physical well-being, and something as simple as the addition of cardboard boxes can be an inexpensive and effective component. Cat trees, cat shelving, and catios are great, but something as basic as a cardboard box can’t be beat when it comes to fundamental feline fun.
Here are some of the ways cardboard boxes can enrich your cat’s life.
Let’s start with the most obvious. Boxes are just plain fun. Because cats are ambush predators, a box is a convenient place to hide while waiting for prey to wander by. For an indoor cat, provide a box during playtime for extra concealment.
A cardboard box creates an enticing sound when you move an interactive toy inside, on top or along the sides. The sound alone can be enough to alert a nearby cat that it’s playtime. Drop a toy inside a box and within a nanosecond someone will be happily hopping inside.
If you have a long box, open up both ends, place it on its side and it can serve as a fun cat tunnel. Very small boxes can be made into puzzle toys. Cut holes in the box that are a little larger than your cat’s paws, seal up the end flaps and toss a toy or some treats in there for your kitty to retrieve.
The ability to be invisible by having a convenient hiding place is a valuable coping mechanism when it comes to stress.
If your cat is unsure or nervous, the ability to disappear into a box can enable him to quietly observe the current conditions of the environment. If boxes are conveniently located, it can allow a cat to stay in the room while hiding instead of running off to a remote area of the home.