Why Is My Cat Eating Paper?

Why Is My Cat Eating Paper
Image: istockphoto.com / kozorog

Cats often exhibit peculiar behaviors such as licking walls or shower curtains and eating inedible items like cardboard, plastic bags, and paper.  These behaviors are often harmless but sometimes they can be a result of behavioral or even health issues. 

Why is my cat eating paper?

Your cat may be eating paper, among other things, because of the following reasons:

1. Your cat may be bored.

One reason your cat may be shredding, biting, and eating paper is because she is simply bored. Maybe you have not been giving her more time lately and haven’t got the time to play with her. You may also be leaving her alone more than usual because of your work. Try to spend more time with your cat and provide her with entertaining cat toys to keep her preoccupied and entertained. 

2. She may be stressed or anxious.

Your cat may be eating paper and other inedible things because she is stressed. This may be due to sudden changes at home such as a house remodeling or a new pet or family member addition. Your kitty may be eating things as an outlet for her stress and anxiety. 

To avoid this, spend more time with your cat and see to it that her essential resources such as the litter box and sleeping quarters are well-maintained.

3. Your cat may be suffering from pica. 

Pica is a behavioral urge among some cats to eat non-edible things like fabric, cardboard, plastic or paper. Some breeds such as the Tonkinese, Siamese, and other Oriental manifest this behavior more than others. This behavior is often observed among cats that were weaned too early. 

These are the probable causes of pica among cats:

Due to medical issues 

Pica may be a result of health conditions like leukemia and immunodeficiency virus and diabetes or a brain tumor. 

Due to dietary deficiencies 

There may be something amiss in your cat’s diet which is why she resorts to eating paper. This has been observed for example among cats with anemia which has the tendency to eat cat litter.

Due to environmental factors 

While most cats are playful some breeds are not the athletic and energetic kind. Nevertheless, cats require environmental stimulation to keep them active and alert. 

Due to a compulsive disorder  

Another potential cause of pica could be due to a compulsive disorder. A cat may have a compulsive disorder if it manifests repetitive or exaggerated behavior. 

4. It is her way of marking or claiming something as hers.

Cats leave their scent on things and people by rubbing their cheeks or by head bunting them. Similarly, they may also be biting, chewing, or eating things like paper as a way to claim or mark it as their property, just as they are marking their territory through scent or urine spraying. 

5. It may be a manifestation of her predatory behavior. 

Biting, shredding, and ultimately eating random things like paper may be a manifestation of your cat’s instinct to catch and kill prey.  

6. Your cat may have teething or health-related problems.

Your cat may have teething or health-related problems.
Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi

Cats, like humans, also undergo a teething period when adult teeth start to erupt. Your little kitten may be chewing and eating paper because her gums are swollen and its feel and texture are comforting for her. Adult cats with thyroid problems may also chew and eat non-food items like paper. 

If you suspect that your cat is eating paper and other non-edible items because of medical and health-related problems like pica and hyperthyroidism, always consult your vet. Also, the eating of paper may result in intestinal blockage and may put your cat’s life at risk. 

Ways to stop your cat from eating paper and other non-food items 

Here are ways to discourage your cat from eating paper and other non-edible items:

1. Spend time with your cat.

Take some time off to interact with your cat. You may play with her for at least a few minutes each day, brush or groom her or simply just to cuddle and pet her.  Cats may tend to eat items like paper because they are bored and craving for attention. 

2. Give your cat appropriate things to chew on.

Cats tend to chew and eat things like paper and to discourage her from doing it, give her something appropriate to chew on such as cat toys. 

3. Remove or hide the things your cat likes to chew or eat 

Make sure that items like paper, cardboard, plastic and cords are concealed from your cat so she will not be tempted to eat them. 

4. Place deterrents on items that your cat may be inclined to eat.

If your cat loves to eat paper or other non-food items like cords, fabric or plastic try to place strong-smelling scents like citrus that cats hate. 

5. Consult a cat behaviorist.

If you suspect that your cat’s habit is not health-related, visit a cat behaviorist. 

Final thoughts 

Eating paper and other non-food items is a cause for concern since it may result in intestinal blockage and other medical issues. This behavior may be due to pica, boredom, stress or anxiety, teething or other medical concerns. You can resolve this problem by spending more time with your cat and removing or hiding the items she likes to eat. However, if the odd behavior persists, you must consult a cat behaviorist as well as your vet.