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Why Do Cats Like Laundry Baskets So Much? Reasons & Tips

Written by: Jordyn Alger

Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

a maine coon cat in a laundry basket

Why Do Cats Like Laundry Baskets So Much? Reasons & Tips

Finding your cat in a laundry basket isn’t an uncommon experience for cat owners. But why do cats like laundry baskets so much? There are several reasons that your cat may love laundry baskets, and they’re often related to the same instincts that cause them to love boxes.

At the same time, some cats find laundry baskets with clothes in them more appealing. In this article, we’ll discuss why your cat loves the laundry basket so much.

Before we start, a quick safety note: if your cat loves laundry baskets, make sure you check for their presence every time you do laundry. Ending up in the washing machine can be very harmful to your cat!cat + line divider

Why Cats Like Laundry Baskets

Cat behaviors are difficult to explain, but their love for laundry baskets is pretty simple. Your cat likely loves laundry baskets due to a combination of the reasons below.

They Feel Safe and Comfy

One of the most significant reasons that cats love to sit inside laundry baskets is because they make them feel safe and comfortable. This is partially due to the instinct that tells them that small, hidden places are safe.

Another reason your cat may feel safe in the laundry basket is your clothes. Not only are clothes comfy for your cat to curl up on, but they also retain your scent. Your scent is calming and familiar to your cat, which makes the laundry basket feel like a safe area for them.

While it may be somewhat of a nuisance to catch your cat sleeping on your clean clothes, take it for the compliment that it is. It means your cat thinks you’re a safe person.

Image by: MarkGusev, Shutterstock

Laundry Baskets Are Warm

Another reason that laundry baskets are popular among cats is due to their warmth. Cats love to be in warm, cozy places. A study in 2006 determined that cats enjoy being in temperatures between 86°–97° Fahrenheit, so an enclosed basket with warm, freshly cleaned laundry is the perfect place for a pleasant nap.

They’re a Playground

While cats can be lazy, they can also be frisky. If your cat isn’t using the laundry basket as a place to curl up and nap, they’re probably using it as their playground.

Cats are notoriously curious, and even a box can provide a whole new world for them to explore. They love investigating new things, and a laundry basket is constantly changing, with new loads of laundry being rotated in and out.

If your laundry basket is made of wicker or similar material, your cat may love to scratch it. The material can feel good on their claws, which may make it part of the allure.

Cat sleeping on top of laundry basket
Image by: Caterina Trimarchi, Shutterstock

Hiding Spots Relieve Stress

As mentioned, cats love enclosed spaces because they make them feel safe. As a result, this safe haven can reduce your cat’s stress. The University of Utrecht in the Netherlands conducted a study that revealed that shelter cats with cardboard boxes adjusted to their environment quicker than those without a box.

If your cat is hiding in your laundry basket, chances are they just need a few minutes to themselves.

Laundry Baskets Are a Good Place to Decompress

No matter how sweet your cat is, conflicts can arise. If your cat is experiencing tension with another family member, they may seek a private place to decompress.

When they return to the laundry basket after having a spat with another pet or family member, it’s best just to leave them be.

It’s a Perfect Place for an Ambush

Even if your cat has never spent a day outdoors, their hunter’s instinct is ingrained in them. Cats are excellent hunters who hide until their prey is in range for an attack, and your cat may hide in the laundry basket so they can attempt an ambush.

If your cat lunges at your ankles every time you pass the laundry basket, there’s a good chance they view it as their personal hunting spot.

Cat smelling laundry basket
Image by: jajam_e, Shutterstock

Keeping Your Cat Out of the Laundry

Finding your cat in the laundry basket can be adorable, but it can also be frustrating if they get fur all over your clean clothes. You also want to avoid the risk of your cat ending up in the actual washing machine, which can be very dangerous and even fatal. Your cat likely feels a sense of stability and safety in the laundry basket, so if you can replicate that feeling in a box or other enclosed space, you can take steps to redirect their behavior.

First, consider the times you have found your cat in the laundry basket. Were there warm, soft clothes inside? If the coziness draws in your cat, consider providing them with a heated cat bed. Was your cat frisky and looking to play? Then, maybe they need more interactive toys or enrichment opportunities. If you pay attention to your cat’s needs and find a way to provide for them elsewhere, you can redirect them from the laundry box.

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Final Thoughts

Cats are renowned for getting their fur all over everything, including your laundry. There are many reasons that your cat may be drawn to your laundry basket, such as the feeling of safety it provides. If you want to keep your cat out of your laundry basket, you can do so by replicating what they enjoy most about the laundry basket in another location and keeping it out of their reach.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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