Why Does My Cat Chew on Cardboard?

Owning a cat presents an opportunity to have a cheerful and contented playmate. Then again, as your furry family member grows up, it’s possible you’ll get worried when you notice your cat chew on cardboard boxes.

 There are a few reasons why your furry friend might adopt this behavior.  Whatever the reason, you should stay close and keep an eye on your cat and look for any noticeable changes that may help determine the new behavior’s cause. 

Even though it is not uncommon for a cat to do this, chewing on cardboard and packing containers is often associated with pica in some cats. Pica is defined as “the persistent chewing and consumption of non-nutritional substances that provide no physical benefit to the animal”.

 According to the University of California Davis Veterinary School, “It can be a symptom of an underlying medical problem, such as nutritional deficiencies, or behavior problems, such as anxiety, boredom, or true compulsive behavior”.

 Due to this fact, you might want to seek the advice of a veterinarian in case your cat has pica-related signs. Besides that, your cat could also be chewing on cardboard for various other reasons, including:

1. Boredom

This kicks when the cat is bored with old toys and has lost interest in the other people or animals around them. Undoubtedly, cats find enjoyment in playing with different items from the human world as they are something new, including cardboard! The texture and sounds made of the cardboard may be a distraction from boredom and amusing for your feline.

2. Helps With Itchy Gums

At some point of teething, the cat’s gums become itchy. If your cat is teething, they may use the cardboard to give their gums a scratch by chewing on almost anything they can find they think may help.

In most cases, your cat will choose cardboard as they find it comfortable and easy to chew. But even if teething, studies show that dental diseases have become common for many cats above four years of age.

Your adorable feline could also be suffering from sore gums, tartar, gingivitis, and plaque. These are serious dental conditions that may impact your cat’s feeding, and because of this, their well-being.

Chewing on objects similar to cardboard may relieve the itchiness on sore gums, but it is no substitute for appropriate dental care. Make sure that your cat has regular dental checkups and check out our article on Cat Dental Care.

3. Hunger

Animals communicate through movements. Tearing into paper and cardboard may be your cat’s way of saying ‘I don’t like the food’ or ‘I am hungry. Figuring out the correct sort and amount of food that your cat needs is very important, and it could be a mitigation measure for cardboard and paper chewing. In case your cat ingests the cardboard instead of only playing and having fun, you may wish to try a different type of cat food to see if that helps.

Some steps that may assist with correct eating include feeding the cat on time, frequent nutrition changes, and giving the cat the appropriate quantity.

4. Creating a Sense of Ownership

Cats are pleasant pets and they can cohabit harmoniously with people and other pets. Unlike dogs that pee on an area to announce dominion, cats use their enzyme to do the same. Cats are not known to be territorial.

On the other hand, chewing on cardboard leaves the cat’s enzyme on it. This can be a means of telling other cats that the object/toy belongs to them.

5. Prey Drive

Cats are known to be household animals. However, prior to someone learned the domestication concept, these pets had been wild animals. It is in your cat’s DNA to hunt and chase prey. Cardboard may be just the right object that your cat needs to release that overwhelming need to be a predator. 

Tearing and shredding cardboard boxes can be like mimicking your pet’s natural behavior of searching and capturing prey!

Is It Normal for My Cat to Chew Cardboard?

The uncanny love for cardboard boxes by some cats isn’t controversial. These pets are sometimes in search of confined areas that boxes provide. You can also notice your furry family member wants to be in an enclosed place. For instance, in a drawer, behind or under the furniture, and on the shelves.

Their brains are wired to think that such places offer them protection against predators. As explained above, chewing on cardboards is reasonably normal. It’s going to result in your cat’s anxiousness, boredom, hunger, and other reasons such as an underlying health issue. You should observe that there is a big difference between chewing and consuming cardboard.

While chewing may well be for fun and play, a cat that eats cardboard may be suffering from pica. This can be a condition that makes your cat consume nonfood items, and this could have some severe consequences on his/her well-being. You might be advised to seek the advice of a veterinarian if your cat focuses more on consuming and ingesting cardboard instead as an alternative to simply chewing it. 

Is Chewing Cardboard Unhealthy for Cats?

Generally, there is no cause for alarm when your cat begins chewing on your cardboard box. It is thought of as a normal and amusing thing considering the playful nature of cats.

However, because as the cat owner, it is your responsibility to stay vigilant and ensure that your pet is chewing the cardboard and not eating it.

You should watch to make sure they don’t cut themselves on sharp edges or on staples. In addition, some boxes can contain toxic material which would be harmful to your cat.

Tips on How to Prevent Your Cat From Chewing Cardboard

Even supposing it is considered safe, you don’t want your cat chewing on cardboard throughout the day and night. So, how do you go about preventing your cat from chewing cardboard?

1. Remove the Cardboard

The most basic and easiest prevention technique is probably through making sure that the cardboard and boxes are out of your cat’s reach. You could stack the cardboard on an unreachable shelf or keep them somewhere outside the home where your cat cannot go. 

2. Use Deterrents

Deterrents are chemical substances sprayed on items and objects to make their tastes undesirable to your pets. Your cat will not chew on cardboard that tastes sour or bitter. The sprays are safe and specially designed for cats. These sprays can also be found in retail outlets at reasonable prices.

3. Have More Toys and Playtime

Boredom is among the leading causes of cardboard chewing among cats. If you recognize that your cat is bored with the toys, it’s time to invest in new ones. Check out our Guide of the Best Cat Toys to help inform your decision. Make sure that you set aside enough time for playing with your cat. 

If your cat spends a lot of time home alone, it will be important to dedicate some attention to it when you are home. While cats are fairly independent pets, they need some attention and certainly need toys to keep them amusing. Toys are a substitute for their natural instincts of hunting. Without sufficient stimulation, your cat will become bored and look for alternatives. 

4. Seek the Advice of a Veterinarian

Take your cat to a professional for a checkup, especially if they are eating cardboard instead of simply chewing. Cats that eat and ingest cardboard boxes may be suffering from pica syndrome.

5. Create a Negative Response

Your cat will learn his/her mistake, depending on how you deal with them and not through yelling and scolding them. Using a water sprayer to splash water on your cat whenever they chew cardboard can be an effective way of showing them that you dislike what they are doing. Eventually, your pet will associate a poor response with the cardboard chewing.

6. Reduce Anxiety

If your cat is chewing cardboard because they have become anxious at being left at home alone for extended periods, you may wish to try a calming diffuser or spray such as Feliway. This product comes in a spray you apply to the areas you want your cat to try focusing on, such as cardboard or any particular areas in your home your cat frequents. The automated plug-in diffuser is also helpful if your cat generally seems quite anxious and would benefit from some help to reduce their stress levels. 

Conclusion

A cat is a worthy addition to your home. They are amongst, if not the most, playful pets that make our days enjoyable. They are generally fairly low maintenance pets, but if they become stressed or anxious, some concerning behaviors such as starting to chew on cardboard or other items in the home.

This behavior isn’t any cause for alarm as the cat can be chewing on these items out of boredom, for some fun, or to scratch itchy gums. Nevertheless, if you understand that the chewing has grown into ‘eating’ cardboard, you should have your feline checked by a veterinarian. Some conditions like dental problems and pica syndrome could also be behind your cat’s urge to chew on cardboard.