why does my cat chew on cardboard

Why Does My Cat Chew on Cardboard?

Cats tend to find anything that they can play with, and it gives them fun. It might turn out to be anything, whether that means attacking or playing with your hair to playing with the baby’s doll or even flipping their water bowl or feeding plate.

The weirdest part of this is you might not be able to know he’s having fun because they’re able to have fun with even the weirdest objects found in our human world; including a weird object he might get to pick outside. Among these things includes cardboard.

Sometimes, while your cat might be bored sitting around, he may prefer just chewing and tearing cardboard, enjoying the texture and the sounds that the carboards make.

If you might tend to have a cardboard-loving cat, and you have some cardboard that means a lot to you, you should keep it beyond his reach.

But there is a completely huge difference between a chewing cat and an eating cat. A cat who tends to eat the cardboard is suffering from a complex condition known as pica. Pica is a condition in which a cat is driven to eat non-food items, which tends to suffer damage by the end of the day.

Fortunately, pica is an uncommon illness in cats, but it’s still something to be very concerned about. Therefore, if your cat tends to be ingesting the cardboard, instead of giving it a good chew, you should take him to see the veterinarian.

Let’s first see and make and study the clear distinctions of both scenarios.

Should I let my cat chew on cardboard?
Photo by Vika Aleksandrova on Unsplash

Chewing Vs. Eating

There is a very big difference between chewing and eating cardboard. Although many cats tend to ingest a little Cardboard in chewing the cardboard, cats that chew cardboard aren’t necessarily chewing it to consume the cardboard. But this is different from eating the cardboard. Like explained earlier, cats that eat the cardboard are suffering from a condition called pica.

Therefore, if they are left in such a condition, this might damage their digestive tracts and the whole digestive system in whole.

With this clearly understood, let’s see the reasons why your cat might want to chew cardboard in the first place.

Why Your Cat Might Want to Chew on Some Cardboard

There are several reasons a cat might eat cardboard. Below, we’ll be highlighting it to make the points clear and understandable

For Fun 

As explained before, cats can make fun of anything that gets to fascinate them; it could be a ball, a mirror above that reflects light, or it includes even be a weird object that he finds outside.  

And it might turn out to be a cardboard box. When he feels bored, he gets to “hunt” for anything that might intrigue and interest him.

It Feels Good on Sore Gums: 

Studies and research have proven that somewhere between fifty to ninety percent of cats over four years of age suffer from a major form of dental disease.

Therefore, not only does that mean plaque and tartar on their teeth but also gingivitis and sore gums. Chewing cardboards might feel good to a cat, thereby feeling the texture and sound they chew on. But the gum on the cardboard might lead to severe scratching and itching.

Moreover, chewing cardboard should not be an alternative to your dental care. So you should always make sure you take your cat regularly to see the veterinarian for a dental examination.

But if he chews the cardboard slowly, there’s a slight possibility that he might not suffer a severe dental issue. Even if your cat does not have a dental disease or inflamed gum, they must enjoy the feeling of cardboard beneath their gums.

On the other way round, if you have got a kitten, you could be seeing some signs of teething. Teething is a natural process in humans, cats, and most other mammals. It is not unusual to see your kitten’s teeth.

It is a process whereby the old teeth of a kitten fall for the new teeth to grow; usually at around three months. Therefore, if you have a kitten that chews cardboard, it might just be a relief for teething. But to be precise of the cause and be at the safe part, you should first take him to the veterinarian.

He Might Just be Marking His Turf

Cats are naturally territorial animals. Maybe your cat might be marking the cardboard box as his territory. In some cases, you might have seen your cat markings on furniture, doorway, or something else. These are signs of his territorial boundaries.

You might even get to see him fight the other cat because of this reason.  

Not all cats might get to interact on the cardboards this way. At some point, you’ll get to see him rub his cheeks on the cardboard in between chewing it.

There’s nothing wrong with him using cardboard to mark their turf, and only if he’s been aggressive relating to his territorial boundaries. Cardboard is pretty a safe and secure place for your kitty to make a stand.

Maybe Your Cat is an Artist

Most cats aren’t just chewing the cardboard aimlessly but have a clear imagination and vision of what they want the box to look like. One that might be more comfortable and is designed for them.

They’re a handful of cat owners who have been convinced that their cat had and is creating a work of art for them one way or the other.

Therefore, your cat might just be creating a house for himself. If that’s the situation, try upgrading the comfort by adding a blanket for your cat to get the best from their creation.

Is it Normal for a Cat to Chew a Cardboard?

While chewing can be related to pica in some cases, chewing on cardboard is generally seen to be normal.

Moreover, your cat will have several reasons for deciding to munch on a piece of cardboard. The most common and familiar causes are for fun.

Is it bad if my cat eats cardboard?
Photo by DNK.PHOTO on Unsplash

Is Chewing Cardboard Boxes Safe for Cats?

In most cases, chewing cardboard is completely okay for your cat. If you want to make sure your cat is only chewing (but not feasting) along with avoiding any dangerous or toxic substances to be safe.

Let’s check out some other ways to keep your cat safe from eating dangerous substances.

Try to Prevent You Cat from Eating Any Sharp Edges

Most times, cats get t a little enthusiastic about chewing cardboard. So much so that they might accidentally get to hurt themselves on a sharp edge in the process of munching the cardboard.

Make Sure Your Cat Isn’t Eating cardboard.

We’ve explained this earlier, but it’s worth repeating: try to make sure your cat isn’t eating any cardboard.

Not only could a large amount of cardboard wreak havoc on your cat’s digestive system, but it could even be a sign of feline pica where your cat has a compulsion to eat non-food items.

So, pay close attention to your cat and be very observant. Most especially if it’s their first time playing with cardboard.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals

Sometimes, there’s a lot of misunderstanding and controversy around chemicals in cardboard materials; especially those used to store and transport food.

Therefore, make sure the cardboard you allow your cat to play with or, worse, chew hasn’t been treated with any special coating or chemical to make the cardboard water-resistant or sturdier.

Moreover, the typical clean or untreated cardboard will have fewer chemicals but should still never be eaten by your cat for another safety purpose.

How Can I Stop My Cat from Chewing Cardboard?

Even if chewing cardboard could still be considered safe for your cat, it’s not the best case for your cat.

So, what can you do to prevent your cat from chewing cardboard?

You Can Redirect the Cat’s Behavior

Relating to Redirecting or, more, changing your cat’s behavior. It’s also vital to remember that simply scolding your cat or hitting him won’t make quite such an act any less!

In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.

That means the first thing you should try to figure out is why in the first place, your cat is chewing on cardboard, and then try your best to redirect the behavior to something more appropriate.

For instance, if your cat is chewing on cardboard because they’re bored and need something to have fun with, then giving your cat new things to play with or even scheduled playtime can help a lot.

Not because you’re telling your cat to stay away from that cardboard; but because you’re giving them an appropriate and relating outlet for what they already want to do.

Also, you should take some time to review the five reasons we explained above to better understand why your cat likes chewing cardboard and consider how you can provide a better outlet for your cat to express those behaviors!

Remove the Cardboard

One of the easiest things you can do is keep the cardboard boxes out of reach from your cat. Do not leave a valuable box in the reach of your cat; only if you are ready to be hot-headed all day.

So far as you can always break down boxes right away and throw them to the recycle bin or place them in a part of the house that your cat doesn’t have access to, like the garage.

Deter the Behavior

In redirecting, removal could be considered a better option. And if you can’t find any of these and need to have cardboard around the house, you can try to discourage your cat’s drive to chew cardboard in any way possible that doesn’t mean to hurt him.

For instance, special sprays are used to make things taste bitter and undesirable to your cat.

For example, the Bitter apple spray could discourage cats and dogs from chewing their bandages. It can also be sprayed on cardboard to make the taste undesirable for your cat. These spays are specially made for cats, and it is safe.

You may also try to catch them in the act and give them a light spray of water on their body. Most cases don’t like to get wet, and if they get a little spray of water every time they go for a chew on the cardboard, they’ll quickly rethink their plan and learn that you don’t want them there if you do it several times.

pica in cats
Photo by Luku Muffin on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

Cats are naturally funny creatures with many weird features. Therefore it’s hardly ever fully understand why they do the things they do.

While a love of chewing, nibbling, and playing with cardboard is almost universal amongst cats, they all have different reasons and motives for acting in such a way, even though the majority of such instincts could be categorized as a fun-based motive.

Though chewing and ripping up cardboard boxes is often harmless, it is a form of destruction you’re going to want to keep your eye out on and pay very close attention to discover their reason for ripping it.

Be sure to be aware that your cat is not portraying any sign of a predator, or else, be expecting to see animal body parts like a mouse’s head in your home.

This is especially true for cats over the age of 3 who may be dealing with dental diseases.

In general, it’s a good idea to keep track or keep a log of your cat’s behaviors al patterns to see if there are any patterns,

So, pet parents, I’m curious how many of your cat’s chew cardboard? You might not find out on time, but once you get to know this, start keeping track of why they do this to know the next step to take.

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