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“Hey! Quickly… grab your camera, the cat is chewing cardboard!”
Catching your cat in the act of eating cardboard is funny.
However, the amusement fades quickly and is replaced with deep concern when it becomes clear that this isn’t just a single silly act.
But, an unnatural craving that your cat has. And, one that, if nothing is done, might cause a lot of damage down the road!
Why do cats eat cardboard? What’s so delicious about fabrics, plastic, hair bands?
Why do they chew these things and even swallow them, forcing us on an emergency vet visit at the worst possible time?
In this article, I am going to explain why cats chew inedible objects.
And, together, we will explore possible ways you can fix your cat’s craving for these items.
But first, let’s get something straight…
Is Your Cat Chewing or Eating Cardboard?
While cats seem to enjoy destroying cardboard boxes, there is, however, a huge difference between chewing and eating cardboard.
A cat that loves to chew cardboard will ingest bits and pieces while doing so, but such cats are not actively trying to consume cardboard.
They just bite the cardboard and spit it out – rinse and repeat.
However, cats that actively bite, chew and ingest cardboard are suffering from a condition known as pica.
Pica in cats can be quite lethal.
Pica is the drive to eat non-edible items such as cardboard, hair bands, plants, earphone buds, etc.
It can lead to terrible consequences and, more often than not, the items will need to be removed via surgery which isn’t cheap.
If you think your cat has pica, then it would be wise to consult your vet to plan the next course of action.
That being said, let’s dive in and find out why your cat is chewing cardboard.
7 Reasons Cats Chew and Destroy Cardboard.
1. She’s hungry!
Some cats have a funny way of letting their owners know that they’re hungry, especially if you’re trying to help them shed some weight.
Other cats may continuously bite the cardboard and spit it out when they don’t like the food you give them.
If your cat won’t eat her meals but enjoy destroying cardboard boxes with her teeth, then the message is clear: “get me a meal I like before I ‘mistakenly’ start swallowing these.”
Here are some wet cat food suggestions that will help spice up your kitty’s diet.
2. It’s the most interesting thing to do – for now!
Cats are pretty good at creating fun activities out of thin air.
That could mean flipping their water bowl, playing with the curtain, knocking things off shelves or counters, hiding, anything might be the fun thing to do at the moment.
Sometimes, it might just be the tearing sound and rough texture of the cardboard that your kitty likes and nothing more.
Consider getting your cat a cardboard cat scratcher, it will prevent them from transferring the behavior to your couch, carpet, or other furniture.
3. It makes your cat feel like a good hunter.
Aside from the treasures they bury in their litter box, most owners see their cats as soft, cuddly meow-boxes.
Well, they are right. However, cats are really good predators.
All cats have instinctual prey drive that’s difficult to shake off and destroying cardboard boxes might be an outlet for their need to hunt, stalk, and ‘kill’ prey!
What has this got to do with your cat chewing on cardboard boxes?
If your cat loves to hide and stalk cardboard boxes before delivering a ‘kill’ by biting or dissecting the box.
Then it’s her prey drive in action.
You can tap into this prey drive by finding toys that can satisfy this urge. A good example of such a toy is the PetSafe SlimCat Meal-Dispensing Cat Toy slow dispenser or the YOFUN Smart Self Rotating Ball interactive toy.
4. Her gums feel sore.
Many cats develop dental issues as early as 3 years. This could be tartar and plaque buildup, gingivitis, or sore gums.
Chewing on cardboard is like scratching an itch – it helps make sore gums feel better.
That being said, chewing on cardboard is no substitute for proper dental care!
If your kitty’s gums look red and swollen or maybe you’ve noticed a drop in her appetite, then it’s probably best if you see a vet for a dental examination.
If your cat is younger (less than 6 months) she may be teething.
Though the process is uncomfortable for some cats, it usually goes away in about 3 or 4 weeks. If it lasts longer and makes your kitty really uncomfortable, then you know who to call – your vet!
There are outliers though – cats who chew cardboard for the same reasons some humans chew bubble gum.
5. Your cat Is marking her turf.
Cats are territorial creatures and your kitty could be biting the cardboard and spitting it out to get her scent on the cardboard box.
This is her way of marking her turf – who knows, maybe she caught you going through her stuff.
You’ve probably seen her once or twice rubbing her cheek against furniture, doorways, or you. Each time she does this, she transfers pheromones from her face to the material she rubs up against.
This behavior is very normal and the scent she leaves all over the house helps keep her calm when she perceives it. Like “oh, that smells like me… So not a threat”
6. She’s very upset!
Being a cat can be quite stressful.
And, some cats deal with the stress by scratching our sofas, pillow, or skin when they’re upset at something – a squirrel or bird they can’t get to, other cats trespassing on their turf, the parent is too busy to play, etc.
Biting on cardboard and spitting it back out might have the same calming effects as punching the wall, screaming into a pillow, taking a walk, or soaking in the bathtub to cool down the emotions.
The best way to go about this is to recognize her triggers and get rid of them. See how to deal with aggressive behavior in cats.
If she’s usually bored and alone by day, getting her a playmate might help. However, if that would impact your finance, then some cat toys for a bored kitty will come in handy.
7. She is a designer.
Some cats aren’t just randomly biting the cardboard and spitting it out.
They’re actually biting off bits and pieces to make ‘their’ cardboard box more comfortable to sleep or sit in.
If that seems like the case, consider adding a blanket to the box to show support for your kitty’s artistic side. Who knows, she might become a renowned architect or interior decoration 🤷♀️
Consider yourself lucky if this is the reason your cat is chomping off and spitting cardboard.
Imagine all the sponsors. 😀
What Else Do Cats Like to Chew?
Unsupervised chewing can cause damage to valuable items and is often dangerous to cats, especially when they swallow non-edible stuff.
Here are other objects cats chew on other than cardboard.
Wires are by far the most dangerous objects cats can chew on.
That’s because they can chew on plugged-in power cables, which increase the risk of your cat or humans getting electrocuted.
If your kitty has an obsession with power plugs, ensure you fold and hide them before leaving or at the very least, turn off the power switch.
Alternatively, you could spray a cat deterrent on the cable. While I recommend BODHI cat repellent spray to do a great job at deterring your cat, the best solution is to remove the temptation.
Cats (and dogs) may occasionally chew on house plants as a pastime.
It can be tough to be a plant-lover and a cat pawrent, but it’s up to you to protect one from the other.
If you have toxic plants, get rid of them. If your plants aren’t toxic, place them someplace where the cat can’t chew or knock them over.
Chewing on fabric is a very common cat behavior. Some cats chew on socks, shoelaces, apparels, curtains, or a ball of wool rope.
Since you cannot spray your shirt and shoes with cat deterrents, your best bet is to make them inaccessible to your cat.
Some cats love to chew on plastic materials such as hairbands, earphone bud tips, shopping bags, etc.
These items are dangerous and might cause intestinal blockage.
How to Prevent Cat from Chewing Cardboard Boxes?
Here are a couple of things you can do to stop your cat from chewing cardboard at any opportunity she gets.
1. See the vet.
Consult your vet to ensure that your cat’s obsession with chewing cardboard boxes is a temporary behavior and isn’t putting her in harm’s way.
Some obsessive behaviors can easily be dealt with if they aren’t given enough time to fester.
2. Remove the temptation.
This one is pretty obvious.
If you don’t want your cat to chew on cardboard boxes, then you have to put them somewhere she cannot reach.
This could be an unreachable shelf or a room where you store items.
If removing the temptation isn’t possible, then you have to deter the behavior
3. Use deterrents.
Spray bad-tasting deterrents on the cardboard boxes to prevent your cat from chewing them.
A good cat deterrent spray I recommend for this purpose is the BODHI cat repellent spray.
It leaves a horrible, long-lasting taste on any object sprayed. This will discourage your cat from chewing the cardboard boxes.
4. Create a negative association.
While this isn’t the best solution, it does work on most cats.
You create a negative response by spraying your cat with water each time your cat goes close to the cardboard box.
And eventually, she will associate cardboard chewing with the sprayed water.
5. Play with your cat.
If your kitty is chewing cardboard because she is bored, then you could play with her.
However, what happens when you have other stuff to deal with?
You won’t always be available to play with your cat. That’s why you need to get some cat toys to keep her entertained when you’ve got stuff to do.
6. Give her something safe to chew.
Sometimes, giving your cat something real to chew on might solve the problem. An uncooked chicken wing (to prevent the bone from splintering) will go a long way in satisfying her urge to chew.
Well, it’s not funny anymore, is it?
Knowing the reasons cats chew cardboard and other inedible items. Plus, how unsafe the obsession with these items is, takes the fun out of watching them do so.
But hey! Look on the bright side.
By stopping them in the act and implementing measures to prevent future occurrences, you and your cat will never have to find out what happens when a cat swallows cardboard, hair bands, or plastic.
And, I am certain you’d rather be safe than sorry.
Am I right?
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