People ask if big cats like boxes. They are referring to the large wild cats normally the lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar. You don’t have to look very hard to find pictures of big cats enjoying snoozing, sleeping and generally messing around in boxes. Yes, they like boxes. Although we are always referring to captive wild cats. You won’t find cardboard boxes in the wild 😉 but there are rock crevices, caves and impenetrable thickets which serve the purpose. Tigresses select them for birthing.
Large wild cats must have an instinctive drive to use places which provide protection on all sides and the large cardboard box does nicely in captivity. And the protection and reassurance that the box provides goes right the way through the family of cats to the domestic cat. We don’t really need pictures of big cats in boxes to prove it, but they make good pics.
Big Cat Rescue (BCR) provide boxes, catnip and balls to hide in and play with. They know that at heart the big wild cat is the same as a domestic cat and vice versa. Fundamentally, there is just size difference and domestication which separates the tiger from the cuddly tabby.
Here are some other ways domestic cats are like big cats: they both knead, like catnip, rely on scent marking of territory, autogroom (self-groom) a lot, chase laser pointers and other play objects and enjoy messing around with toilet paper.
A little bit about birth dens – the wild equivalent of the cardboard box
Incidentally many breeders provide cardboard boxes for their breeding queens to use as dens for birthing. And for the tiger during the first few weeks of the lives of her cubs she spends most of her time in the den. She leaves for short periods to hunt and drink. Her normal movements are hugely curtailed, and her home range shrinks dramatically to a fraction of its former size reports Mel Sunquist in The Social Organisation of tigers in Royal Chitwan National Park (1981).
Tigresses behave like domestic cats when caring for their young. They are very cautious and protective and will move their cubs to a new den if they are disturbed or threatened.
Below are some pages on big cats.