For some odd reason, cats will ignore a hundred dollar cat furniture while joyfully climbing into a cardboard box. Why do cats like boxes so much remains one of the mysteries of the universe along with where Jimmy Hoffa might be buried and what really happened to Amelia Earhart.
Now there may be scientific evidence on why cats like boxes so much. Apparently cats in stressful situations prefer a box or some other type of separate enclosure. Veterinarian Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands studied cats in a Dutch animal shelter. Vinke provided hiding boxes for a group of newly arrived cats while depriving another group of them entirely. She found a significant difference in stress levels between cats that had the boxes and those that didn’t. Essentially cats with boxes got used to their new surroundings faster and were far less stressed and more interested in interacting with humans.
Thus boxes often represent a safe zone, a place where sources of anxiety, hostility, and unwanted attention simply disappear. Now that we know that, perhaps the next time humans get stressed out at work, they can crawl into a cardboard box as well to see if their stress level goes down. If it works for your kitty, it might be cheaper than therapy.