Why Do Cats Love Cardboard? A Scientific Explanation


If you’ve ever bought an expensive toy for your feline companion, only to see them become infatuated with the cardboard box it came in, you’re not alone. It’s a common experience, but why do cats love cardboard so much? Is there science behind this fascination? Let’s find out!

The Science Behind

The Material

Cardboard is mostly composed of paper pulp, which is relatively harmless to cats. Additionally, the natural texture provides them with something they instinctively want to scratch.


From a scientific viewpoint, cardboard doesn’t pose any severe health risks to cats. There are no harmful chemicals involved, making it a safe option for playtime.

The Sensory Appeal


One explanation is the texture of cardboard. Cats have highly sensitive paws, and the unique texture of cardboard is appealing to them for scratching purposes.


Ever noticed how much cats love the sound of crinkling paper? The sound that cardboard makes can be similarly appealing to them.

Behavioral Factors


Cats are territorial animals. A cardboard box provides a small, enclosed space that allows them to mark their territory.


Being in an enclosed space like a cardboard box gives cats a feeling of safety and security.

Psychological Aspects

Stress Relief

For many cats, scratching is a way to relieve stress. Cardboard offers an excellent outlet for this behavior.


Let’s face it; cats are incredibly curious creatures. The novelty of exploring a new box can be mentally stimulating for them.

Human Factors


From a human perspective, cardboard boxes are often readily available and cost-effective, making it easy to provide this source of entertainment.


It’s no secret that we receive a lot of cardboard boxes, especially in the age of online shopping. This means a constant supply of new playthings for your cat.

Common Myths

Safety Concerns

Contrary to popular belief, cardboard is generally safe for cats unless it’s treated with harmful chemicals or dyes.

Lack of Affection

Some people think that if a cat prefers cardboard over toys, it means the cat is not affectionate. This is not true; it’s just a different form of engagement.

Practical Tips

Choosing Cardboard

Opt for plain, untreated cardboard when possible to ensure it’s safe for your feline friend.

Safety Measures

Always supervise your cat’s playtime to ensure they’re not ingesting pieces of cardboard.


So, there you have it—a scientific explanation of why cats are so fascinated by cardboard. Whether it’s the sensory appeal, behavioral factors, or psychological aspects, cardboard provides multiple avenues for engagement. The next time you bring home a cardboard box, you’ll know it’s not just a box; it’s a playground for your cat’s senses.


  1. Is it safe for my cat to eat cardboard?
    • While cardboard isn’t toxic, ingestion could lead to digestive issues. Always supervise your cat during playtime.
  2. Do all cats love cardboard?
    • Most cats are attracted to cardboard, although individual preferences may vary.
  3. Can I use cardboard as a permanent toy?
    • It’s best to rotate toys to keep your cat mentally stimulated, but cardboard can be a great temporary addition.
  4. What types of cardboard are best?
    • Plain, untreated cardboard is usually the safest option.
  5. Is my cat normal for preferring cardboard over expensive toys?
    • Absolutely! Cats have their own preferences, and that’s completely normal.

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