Cat Chewing Cardboard

Cat Chewing Cardboard

Cats may look docile and distant but they are playful and adventurous. They like to follow and observe their humans around the house and interact with them by rubbing their legs or through vocalization. They may also entertain themselves by playing with cords, climbing on shelves and chewing on things like a cardboard box. 

Cat chewing cardboard: What are the reasons?

These are the possible reasons why your cat is chewing cardboard boxes:

1. It may be due to your cat’s prey drive. 

Like it or not, your furry kitty is a predator and the need to hunt and stalk prey is ingrained in her system. Since she is already domesticated and an indoor cat, her prey drive is redirected in things that she has easy access to like a cardboard box. If you may have noticed, cats will latch on, bite and rip cardboard just as it would with prey like mice. This just goes to show that indoor cats still retain the urge to chase and eat prey although it is just cardboard. 

2. Your cat thinks it is fun. 

Another reason why your cat is chewing cardboard is that she thinks it is a fun thing to do especially if she gets bored around the house. Cardboard has a pleasant texture when it is bitten and chewed on plus your cat may find sheer joy just hearing the crunching sound it produces. Just make sure your cat will not eat it because it may pose a health risk especially if ingested in large amounts. 

3. It may help soothe a cat’s sore gums. 

At least 50 to 90% of cats above four years of age suffer from some form of oral diseases like plaque, gingivitis and sore gums according to research. This may be the reason why cats like to latch on and chew cardboard as it helps soothe their gums. However, cardboard is not a permanent fix so always make sure that you bring your cat to the vet for a regular dental check-up. 

Similarly, if you have a kitten and you notice that she has a penchant for cardboard lately, it may mean she is in her teething phase. Teething usually starts when kittens are around three months old. Considering that cardboard has a pleasant texture, kittens may turn to it to relieve teething woes. 

4. To mark it as their territory. 

Cats chew and at the same time may mark their scent on cardboard to lay claim to it and to let other felines know that it is their territory.  The territorial nature of cats always finds a way to kick in although your cat may just be wrestling and chomping on cardboard. Needless to say, there is nothing wrong when cats mark cardboard as their turf as long as they are not manifesting any signs of aggression. 

5. Your cat may have hidden talents as an artist. 

If you notice your cat mindlessly nibbling on cardboard, think again! She may be crafting and creating it into a comfortable one designed by her exclusively. It may be safe to presume that your cat is creating a masterpiece or work of art that suits her taste. 

6. It may imply a medical or health concern. 

If your cat not only chews but also tends to eat cardboard, it may suggest a health issue like pica. It is the urge to eat non-food items and is usually observed among cats that were weaned too early. Your cat may also be chewing on cardboard due to a dietary deficiency and because something is missing in her diet.  Pica among cats may also indicate grave health concerns like leukemia or immunodeficiency virus or a compulsive disorder that is linked to genetics.

Nevertheless, your cat may just be chomping on cardboard because she is hungry or wants to catch your attention. If you suspect that this is the case, see to it that you spend some quality time with your kitty and provide her with nutritious and balanced meals. 

Why do cats like cardboard boxes?

Here are the reasons why cats are fond of cardboard boxes:

  • its enclosed space makes them feel safe and secure
  • due to their instinct where they hide and pounce on prey 
  • it helps relieve stress 
  • it is a fun place to sleep, sit and play 

How to prevent your cat from chewing cardboard?

While chewing on cardboard is not dangerous for your cat, it may pose some health concerns especially if she ingests it. To be on the safe side, you should prevent her from indulging in it. 

Here are helpful ways on how to do it:

  • discourage her from chewing on cardboard by giving her something to chew on such as cat chew toys
  • keep cardboard boxes away from her sight such as a separate storage room that should be locked or an unreachable shelf at your home
  • spray cardboard boxes with deterrents like a cayenne water spray as it leaves a bad taste and will discourage your cat from chewing it
  • try to change your cat’s eating schedule and feed her small amounts of food frequently; take her for a walk or let her roam the premises of your yard to distract her from her cardboard chewing addiction 
  • if you notice that your cat chews cardboard because she is bored, try to play with her and utilize some interactive toys to keep her physically and mentally stimulated 
  • you may also offer your cat something tasty to chew on such as a chicken wing or a slice of fish or red meat
  • if the chewing habit tends to become frequent or compulsive, bring your cat to your vet as it may indicate a medical or behavioral problem. 

Final thoughts 

Cats tend to be playful, feisty and adventurous and they may resort to doing things like chewing on cardboard boxes. Cats may be doing it to mark their turf, because of their predatory drive and to soothe sore gums. However, it may also indicate a medical or health concern such as pica due to dietary deficiency or anemia. 

Image: / AdrianHancu