Watching your kitty eating paper including toilet paper or cardboard box including paperback books, paper towels, diaper boxes, et cetera may seem so unorthodox to these obligate carnivores. Believe it or not, it does happen.
This behavior chewing or eating non-food items or things that have no nutritive value including others such as eating litter, dirt, sucking wool, socks, shoelaces, plastic, plants and so on is referred as to pica.
Pica is pleasurable, soothes and quite entertaining to the affected kitties, a reason why they will keep on with the habit.
Why does my cat eat paper and cardboard?
There are many reasons that range from teething to nutritional deficiencies to disease and conditions among many others. Here are the possible reasons why it happens.
1. It may be natural behavior
While in the wild, once they have caught their prey, they tear and disassemble their prey’s body. Therefore, the chewing, ripping and tearing of paper may be instinctively present even in domesticated cats.
2. Teething kittens
While teething, most kittens will enjoy chewing various things as it makes them feel good. Expect the behavior during teething. However, it should stop once they finish teething.
If not teething, irritated gums may be a reason why an adult cat may seem to eat or rub against cardboard or even paper.
3. Nutritional deficiencies
Nutritional deficiencies have been associated with these pets chewing various items. Fiber, fats or other nutritional deficiencies may be a cause.
4. Your cat is sick
Various diseases and conditions including anemia, feline leukemia, tumors, diabetes, kidney disease, feline immunodeficiency virus, diabetes, among others have been blamed for pica in cats.
5. Claiming or marking
Cats are known to be territorial. They often mark what is theirs using their urine or by chinning those items. Perhaps, as thecatisinthebox.com, states “biting or chewing an object might be a way that a cat says, “This box (or paper towel tube, or magazine) is mine.”
6. They are bored
Boredom in these pets is often associated with destructive behaviors, one of them being pica. Loneliness, lack of enrichments including toys, or your absence may make these pets so bored and end up chewing, shredding or eating things they are not food.
7. Other causes
Besides the above causes, displacement behavior, early separation of kittens from their mothers, attention-seeking, stress, compulsive disorders, may also be a cause.
How to deal with a cat eating paper or cardboard?
If you notice this behavior, you need to know if your feline friend only shreds and chews or also swallows the paper or cardboard. Ingestion means taking in something that has no nutritive value and may cause other hazards including intestinal blockages.
Some of the ways stop this behavior includes:
- Visit your vet – this will help check for any underlying diseases or condition causing this abnormal behavior.
- Modify diet – It will help avoid deficiencies. Talk to your vet before modifying any diet.
- Hide what they chew – Stop them accessing any items they are fond of eating whether is your pizza box, cardboard boxes, toilet paper, etc.
- Deter the habit – Use unpleasant or bitter sprays to deter them from eating cardboard or paper. The use of Hot pepper, citrus air fresheners, SssCat! cannister by Multivet, Bitter Apple or Band guard may help.
- Alternative safe chew items – Look for other things that these pets may enjoy eating or chewing. Catnip is one such good alternative.
- Break boredom – Buy cat puzzle and play toys as well as be part of their playtime to help break the boredom.
- Disruption – Disrupt your feline when it begins eating things it is not supposed to eat and reward any positive behaviors.
- Manage stress – Find out what stresses your feline and manage it. Give them places to hide or relax that gives them some sense of security and privacy whenever they need it.
- Consider professional help – Talk to your animal behaviorist to help manage, change, and reinforce positive eating behaviors.
These are some of the ways to handle your cat that eats paper or cardboard, whether it only chews it or swallows it.