Cats have been known to try to eat random bits of paper or pages from books, among other strange behaviors. In general, felines enjoy tearing, nibbling, and consuming paper.
Paper is just another toy in their eyes, not a precious book or vital work document. While it’s true that cats can digest small amounts of paper without any ill effects, there are still risks you should be aware of.
Cats shouldn’t eat paper for a variety of reasons, and there are a few that they do. This article will provide the answers you’re looking for, covering all of the above questions and more.
Is It Safe for Cats to Eat Paper?
When cats chew paper, they typically swallow very little of it. However, consuming excessive amounts of paper can be hazardous to your health.
Paper is made from cellulose fiber that has been extracted from wood or a similar material and is processed using a variety of chemicals. Ink and dyes are frequently used in the final paper product.
Some of the paper’s chemicals could be harmful if ingested in large quantities. Thankfully, a lot of paper would be needed to cause toxicity.
The most serious risk of paper-eating in cats is gastrointestinal obstruction. Typically, the stomach is able to break down small amounts of paper. However, paper can absorb a lot of liquid and clump together in the digestive system if ingested in large quantities.
Paper clumps can prevent digestion if they are large enough. The body will make an effort to pass or expel the paper. Some or all of the paper may be vomited up by your cat.
However, underwear can get caught in the digestive system and cause an obstruction. This is an emergency that needs to be seen by a vet right away.
Possible early symptoms of a gastrointestinal obstruction include nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fatigue. Stomach discomfort and/or swelling are possible side effects.
Take your cat to the nearest open vet as soon as possible if you see any of these symptoms, especially if you suspect it may have eaten something it shouldn’t have.
Radiographs and ultrasounds can sometimes detect a gastrointestinal obstruction. If that’s the case, you’ll need to get rid of the foreign object.
Endoscopy may be used to remove the foreign body if it is located in the stomach. Intestinal blockages necessitate abdominal surgery.
If your cat is showing signs of illness or has been eating excessive amounts of paper or other foreign objects, you should take him or her to the vet immediately. Before attempting to treat pica, make sure there isn’t a underlying medical or nutritional issue.
Is Paper Harmful For Cats To Eat?
If you have cats, you should know that they could get hurt if they play with, chew on, or eat paper. The most serious danger is suffocation due to paper becoming lodged in the soft palate or in the back of the throat.
Your cat will be fine if it swallows a small piece of paper without choking on it, but prolonged exposure can be dangerous.
Since cats are obligate carnivores, they also lack the necessary digestive enzymes to properly digest paper. This can cause obstructions in the digestive tract.
If your cat has a history of consuming large amounts of paper, it’s important to take it to the vet as soon as you notice any symptoms of a possible blockage.
Since magazine pages are typically covered in different colored inks, there is a risk that your cat may be poisoned by ingesting cardboard or magazines with ink on them.
We advise you to take your cat to the vet if you notice any unusual behavior after it has eaten paper.
Why Do Cats Eat Paper? 5 Possible Reasons for This Behavior
In most households, cats will spend hours playing with cardboard boxes or other similar objects. We’ll never know if it’s the taste or the feel that draws them in.
One thing we do know for sure is how challenging it is to keep your cat away from paper. It’s possible that a curious cat will find paper to be an enjoyable toy to play with, and that it will even chew on it and ingest some of it.
1. Teething and Gum Problems
Kittens and cats with tooth pain may seek comfort from cardboard and paper chewing, which raises concerns. Kittens in the midst of the teething process are especially vulnerable.
Cats that are no longer in the teething phase may chew paper because the texture soothes their sore gums. Your cats may intentionally or unintentionally ingest paper products because they feel good against their gums.
2. Underlying Medical Conditions
Maybe your cat isn’t getting enough of a certain vitamin or mineral and that’s why it’s trying to eat things that aren’t food.
In medical terms, this is known as pica.
Your cat may be exhibiting symptoms of a medical condition, such as a thyroid problem, if it begins to eat non-food items, such as paper.
Cats with pica or thyroid problems will eat anything, including paper.
If your cat is malnourished (from not getting enough to eat), it may try to fill the void by eating paper.
This reaction is often the result of an innate mechanism, and it has been observed in humans as well as many other animal species.
Boredom-induced destructive chewing in cats typically involves non-edible objects. If the paper they are eating and chewing on is valuable to you, this can be an annoyance.
If your cat doesn’t have enough toys, it may look for other things around the house to gnaw on.
Your cat may not like the feel of certain cat chew toys; therefore, you should provide them with a wide selection from which to choose.
4. Kitten Curiosity
Unattended paper in the reach of a curious kitten, or even an adult cat, can lead to the kitten or cat eating and playing with the paper because it is misunderstood as a toy.
Any time something interesting lands on the floor from your desk, your kitten will be there to play with it. Your kitten is just learning and exhibiting natural behavior.
5. Natural Predatory Behaviour
Some cats enjoy reading the paper, but most prefer to shred it. Cats engage in this behavior because it satisfies their natural instinct to hunt and provides a pleasant tactile experience; the paper is thin and provides easy access for the cat to pierce it with its teeth and claws.
While playing, they may accidentally ingest pieces of the paper or it may become lodged in their gums and teeth and be consumed at a later time.
Types Of Paper Cats Eat
Some felines are selective readers, showing interest only in certain varieties of paper. Your cat seems to prefer a certain brand of paper due to its aroma, flavor, and texture.
The most common types of paper consumed by domestic cats are:
- Towels on a roll
- Bathroom tissue
- Copy paper
- Paper for sketches
Can It Be Normal For Cats To Eat Paper?
There’s no reason for cats to be eating paper, so if the habit persists, it’s time to see the vet. However, it is natural for cats to want to shred paper and chew on things.
In theory, a well-nourished cat shouldn’t be interested in paper.
Your cat shouldn’t be eating paper if you’ve ruled out any medical problems, examined their living conditions for potential sources of stress, and provided them with plenty of interactive and mentally stimulating toys.
How To Stop Your Cat From Eating Paper
We have some suggestions that may help if your cat has a habit of tearing up paper and swallowing it.
1. Ensure that your cat has plenty of toys that keep them engaged.
Toys that can be chewed, torn, or scratched are all fair game. This will prevent your cat from becoming bored and looking for alternative playthings around the house.
Most cat toys are sturdy enough to withstand your cat’s attempts to break them, reducing the likelihood that your cat will swallow them.
2. Take your cat to a veterinarian so that they can run tests to see if your cat is suffering from pica or a thyroid issue.
Your vet will be able to treat these issues, and your cat will stop trying to eat things that aren’t good for them. Even if your cat’s vet advises a change in diet to address a nutrient deficiency, she may only suggest a supplement.
3. Avoid offering your cat cardboard boxes or items to play with, as the smell is like paper.
Paper is much thinner than cardboard, making it more tempting for your cat to chew and swallow. Substitute cat-appropriate furniture, such as cat trees, for cardboard boxes.
4. Closely monitor kittens during their teething stage and teach them what items are right for them to chew and what are not.
To prevent your kitten from resorting to chewing on paper, stock up on appropriate teething toys.
5. Limit access to paper.
Papers should be stored in drawers or weighed down with paperweights to prevent them from scattering across the desk. Magazines and books should be stored somewhere your cat can’t get to them.
Shredding and chewing on paper may look cute when your cat or kitten is young, but it poses serious health risks and should be discouraged.
Instead, you should try to attract your cat’s interest with a different kind of toy.
Fortunately, there are so many options for cat toys available today that picking one won’t be a problem.
With any luck, this article has shed some light on why your cat might be nibbling on paper and why that’s a bad idea.