Cats tend to be playful and curious about their surroundings. They waste no time exploring every nook and cranny in the house and will tinker with things that are new to them. Giving them access to your bathroom could put you in a dilemma, especially if your cat gets hold of toilet paper and proceeds to eat it.
Why does my cat eat toilet paper?
Due to their hunting and predatory skills
Cats are observant animals that are on high alert most of the time. This may be due to their innate hunting skills. Fluttering toilet paper is a common target, because catching and pulling the loose end of toilet paper feels similar to their hunting process. According to International Cat Care, a cat’s interest in inanimate “prey” suggests predatory behavior directed toward inanimate objects.
Have you noticed your cat clutching her paws and doing the “bunny kick” after she knocks off the roll of toilet paper? This is part of a cat’s instinctive behavior. This aggressive mode could mean danger for you if you try to interfere. Do not try to take away the toilet paper until your cat is done with attacking it.
Out of boredom
Cats can get bored, especially when they are left at home alone for long periods. To entertain themselves, felines tend to lash out at inanimate objects: they may shred the sofa or carpet, or tear up toilet paper. According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, a cat’s destructive behavior is usually just part of normal investigation and play. To avoid destructive behavior, set aside at least 15 to 30 minutes of interactive playtime with your cat.
Due to a health issue
Cats that eat toilet paper may be suffering from pica, which is the urge to eat non-food items such as plastic, paper or wool. If your cat is regularly chewing and eating toilet paper, consult your veterinarian as it could be due to an underlying issue like anxiety, stress or a medical concern.
Causes of pica:
- Dietary deficits such as anemia or vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Medical problems like leukemia, diabetes or feline immunodeficiency virus
- Genetic predisposition
- Environmental factors
- A compulsive disorder
Symptoms of pica:
- Oral ulcers
- General listlessness
- Decreased appetite
Kittens that are going through the teething process are also prone to chewing and eating toilet paper. This gives relief to their condition since the gums are irritated or inflamed. Similarly, adult cats may chew or eat toilet paper because of dental problems, as it could bring them some relief.
How To Prevent Your Cat From Getting Hold of Your Toilet Paper
- Use a toilet paper guard.
- Make sure your bathroom door is always closed.
- Reshape the toilet roll to make it more square than round.
- Install the toilet paper holder vertically and not horizontally, so that the toilet paper is less accessible.
- Provide interactive playtime to keep your cat busy.
- Always provide food puzzle toys or prey-mimicking toys to preoccupy your cat.
- Hide kibble around your home.
However, these tricks may not always work with all cats. Some felines are smart enough to know how to gain access to the bathroom.
You can also redirect your cat’s attention to keep her mind off the toilet paper. Redirection is best done during kittenhood. It is a positive and effective way to distract cats from destructive behavior while reinforcing good behavior.
Consuming toilet paper is an undesirable behavior, and you should not use the remnants of your toilet paper after your cat has chewed it. It may contain contaminated cat saliva or fur.
Cats are curious and playful animals that like to explore their surroundings, and their inquisitive nature could lead them to investigate things like toilet rolls. Seeing your cat eating toilet paper is alarming, and the reason may be as benign as boredom, or it could be a health concern like pica or inflamed gums. It could also be simply an expression of their hunting and predatory skills.
Image: istockphoto.com / Ramaboin