Why Do Cats Like to Tear Paper?

The sharp claws and teeth of cats not only make them formidable predators – they also make them skilled paper shredders. Many cats love to tear and munch on the various paper products in their owners’ lives, from toilet paper and cardboard to wallpaper and bills. A cat playing with a roll of TP can be cute, but the behavior can become a real nuisance and, in certain instances, even lead to significant health problems for your cat. Below we outline some of the causes of this behavior along with tips for what you can do to stop it.

Why They Do It

Most cats tear paper because they’re bored, and apparently destroying paper is sure way to get out of the feline doldrums. And tearing paper might satisfy your cat’s natural urges to hunt – cats tear up and rip off parts of their prey before eating them (yeah, gross). Cats that are experiencing anxiety are known to tear paper too. Cats also like to leave their smell on things to mark their territory and chewing on paper might be part of this behavior. If your cat is trying to actually eat or ingest paper, though, you should take them to the vet to rule out any nutritional deficiencies or dental problems causing the behavior.

What You Can Do About It

To keep your cat from destroying your precious paper, the best thing you can do is play with your cat on a regular basis. Be sure to give your cat plenty of interactive play, where they are challenged and get some exercise. Give your cat toys of their own, and if they insist on paper, you can get them a cardboard box or a paper bag to destroy. If you’re unable to give your cat enough attention because you work long hours or travel often, you might want to hire a pet sitter to visit and play with the cat. You might also consider getting cat pheromones that you can diffuse into the air – they can help some cats deal with stress. Putting plastic on the floor in areas where your cat likes to destroy paper can also be effective – most cats don’t like to walk on plastic. Cat-repellent sprays sold at pet supply stores can keep cats away from certain areas of your home too. If your cat loves tissues and toilet paper, keep tissue boxes upside down and get a toilet paper dispenser.

When to Go Help

If your cat is chewing on paper constantly, whether it be cardboard or tissues, they might run into some health problems. Check their teeth and gums for inflammation and be sure your cat isn’t ingesting any paper (doing so can cause intestinal blockages that could be fatal). Take your cat to the vet if you suspect they have eaten paper or cardboard and they’re experiencing any dental or digestive issues.

By Jay Matthews

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About the Author
Jay Matthews has been writing professionally for over a decade. He's been an animal lover for even longer. When he's not creating articles or copywriting, he's slowly chipping away at a science fiction novel. He lives with his family and their cat Koko in Los Angeles.