By Nicky LaMarco.
I came home a few days ago, and my cat was sitting on my desk and eating my stationary. He looked at me calmly as if everything was normal, and I looked at him curiously and wondered how long this had been going on. I had not noticed any evidence of this before. I was immediately concerned and wondered if there was a problem that caused him to behave this way and would this activity hurt him? Sound familiar?
Why Do Cats Eat Paper?
There might be a few reasons why this is happening from a medical issue all the way to the other end of the spectrum in terms of boredom. On the medical side it could be a vitamin deficiency. There are a lot of natural nutrients that are not found in even the best quality cat food. Other health reasons for this behavior might include Gastrointestinal malabsorptive and maldigestive disorders such as severe inflammatory bowel disease, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and intestinal lymphosarcoma,
It could also be caused by a disease such as diabetes, hyperadrenocorticism – which causes the cat to be hungry – or iron deficient anemia. A cat suffering from chronic conditions including liver, intestinal and kidney issues might also resort to eating paper.
A non-medical reason for this type of behavior might be that this is a new game for him. It could simply be fun even though it is a mess for you. If your cat is bored or anxious this might be a way for him to distract himself from those feelings. This behavioral problem could also be an exercise in hunting prey for your cat. He likes to stalk the paper, pounce on it, and tear it up. This is a typical hunting and prey ritual.
Some cats just simply like the way paper sounds when it is crunched or ripped and they like the way it feels to rip and chew it. Some are craving the feel of the wood fibers in the paper.
Will Eating Paper Hurt My Cat?
It is not likely that the act of eating paper will in and of itself hurt your cat, except that there is always the danger of an intestinal blockage with the consumption of too much indigestible fiber. You should take the cat to the vet to ensure he is healthy.
How Can I Stop This Habit?
First, make sure your cat is drinking, eating and discharging waste as he should be. Once you rule out this is not medical related you want to use positive reinforcement to train your cat. So reward and praise for the behavior you like and ignore the behavior you don’t. Continue this until he stops chewing on the paper. When this happens praise him, pet him, and give him a treat.
You will want to find other ways to continuously help with his boredom and potential anxiety. Make sure you are playing with him for at least one hour a day. This play has to be interactive. Cats need this type of exercise and play time. Try a variety of toys to see which ones your cat likes the best.
This will provide both physical and mental stimulation for both the cat and you. Set up a schedule for your play times and stick with it. Don’t let your cat down. Get a Feliway Comfort Zone Diffuser to help your cat to relax and change her mood. You can also get cat grass or cat nip for your cat to keep them occupied and not distracted by paper. Cat grass is designed and manufactured for cats and you can either grow it from seed or buy it in bunches.
Be consistent and your cat will stop eating paper.
Photo: Courtesy of lumini.kl via Flickr (cc by 2.0)