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Why Does My Cat Chew Cardboard – 6 Reasons!

In some ways, cats can be just like kids; sometimes, they are more interested in the box that a new toy came in than the new toy itself. It is normal for cats to enjoy playing with cardboard, but some cat owners may panic if their cat starts to chew on it. This will likely leave many cat owners wondering: why does my cat chew cardboard? 

Cats will start to chew on cardboard when they are bored, and many cats find chewing on that new cardboard box to be a fun game. However, there are some other reasons that a cat may chew on cardboard, such as hunger, sore gums, and being possessive over their things.

In this article, we will be explaining all of the reasons why cats chew on cardboard. We will also be explaining whether or not it is normal and safe for cats to chew on cardboard, and we will be providing you with some other things to consider about this topic. Let’s get right into it! 

Reasons Why Cats Chew On Cardboard 

There are five main reasons why cats chew on cardboard. These reasons include boredom, sore gums, hunger, making a box more comfortable, and being possessive or territorial over their things. Now, let’s get into these five reasons why cats chew on cardboard in greater detail. 

Your Cat Is Bored 

Boredom can lead cats to get into some mischief when they are left to entertain themselves, and yes, this can include chewing on cardboard. This fun game of chewing on the cardboard can stimulate their prey’s drive as they bite and chew on the inanimate object.

The best way to reduce this kind of behavior in cats is to increase the time you play with and exercise your cats. You may also want to get your cat some more toys if they do not have too many already. 

It Feels Good On Their Gums

Sometimes cats will also chew on cardboard because they have sore gums or teeth, and chewing on cardboard helps relieve the pain. The most common cause for this kind of pain in cats is dental disease. Some other signs of dental disease in cats include but may not be limited to: 

● Bad breath 

● Red and bleeding gums 

● Having difficulties with eating hard foods 

● Sneezing 

Keeping up with your cat’s dental hygiene is essential to prevent them from developing dental disease. However, sometimes things like your cat’s diet and natural teeth alignment can make some cats more at risk for developing dental disease as they age.

If you suspect that your cat’s cardboard chewing habits are caused by dental disease, then you should take them to the vet to prevent further issues and get your cat proper treatment. 

Your Cat Is Hungry 

Sometimes cats will also chew on cardboard because they are hungry. Some cat owners can be perplexing, but it is more common than many think. This is especially true for cats that are picky and will not eat every type of food their owner provides for them. 

Your Cat Is Making A Box More Comfortable To Sit In

If your cat is chewing on a cardboard box, in particular, they may be doing so because they are trying to make it more comfortable to relax in. Although somewhat rarer than some of the other reasons we have mentioned, cats have been known to do this. Some cats will even chew themselves a chin or armrest! 

Your Cat Is Being Possessive 

Sometimes cats also chew on the things that they love because they are possessive over them. Many cats can view cardboard boxes and pieces of cardboard as their toys or beds, so it is only natural for a cat to claim them as their own. This is most common when the cat is living in a home with other cats. 

Cardboard Boxes Are Soothing To Cats

Have you ever noticed your cat scratching the carpet? Perhaps you have even witnessed them sratches the couch, or gnawing away at some cotton. Now ask yourself why they do this?

Well, cats are creatures of habit, and certain activities are soothing to them. Both mentally, and physically. Cardboard boxes are no different. For some cats it’s not about boredom, but about feeling safe and secure in their environment.

You might even notice your cat makes chewing the cardboard box part of their nightly routine. Or perhaps they do it after you return home from a long day of work. For some cats, it’s all about being comfortable in their environment, and it gives them some peace.

The only downside is when cats take this behavior too far and go as far as ingesting the cardboard. If your cat has forms of separation anxiety, the chewing can become aggressive and turn to a feasting session.

Surely, we don’t want that, so it’s crucial that you identify if your cat is doing this as a comfort behavior, and find something else you can replace that behavior with.

Perhaps you can coat the cardboard box in a safe blanket, this way they can still get the sensation of chewing without all the bad materials. It might even be worth it to hide the cardboard box and put other items in the room. This can include your cat’s favorite chew toy, some catnip, water fountains, and other attention-grabbing items.

While chewing on cardboard boxes is rather harmless, it’s entirely normal behavior, which we’ll dive into next!

Is It Normal For Cats To Chew Cardboard

Yes, it is normal for cats to chew on cardboard, and many cats engage in this kind of behavior. You shouldn’t necessarily worry about this unless your cat is ingesting a high amount of cardboard. 

Is It Bad For Cats To Chew On Cardboard

No, it is not bad for cats to chew on cardboard. Although sometimes chewing on cardboard can signify a medical issue such as dental disease, this is not always the case. 

Is Cardboard Poisonous To Cats

Cardboard is not poisonous to cats. Just chewing on cardboard shouldn’t cause any medical problems in your cat at all. 

Although cardboard in itself is not necessarily dangerous to cats, things it may have come in contact with can be. You have to think, most cardboard boxes reach homes through means of delivery.

That can mean the cardboard box has come into contact with other types of harmful materials, chemicals, and overall just is not sanitary. Likewise, if a cardboard box is sitting on a store shelf, it could have been touched and handled by multiple people from all over the place.

Now, imagine your cat licking up all of those germs and worse, digesting it. While there’s likely no harm to come from a few bites, it is something you as a pet owner should not encourage. If you see your cat doing it, quickly stop the behavior, redirect, and that should do the trick.

Can Cats Digest Cardboard

Cats can digest a small amount of cardboard, so if your cat only swallows the occasional small piece, then there shouldn’t be anything that you need to worry about.

However, eating a large amount of cardboard can cause problems in your cat’s GI tract. The GI tract is important in cats because its where all of their food processes.

If your cat eats cardboard and the reaction to it is not good, you can expect to see the following:

  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Inflammation of the GI tract
  • Infections due to bacteria

In addition to this, you have to consider if the pieces of cardboard your cat eats are large. Not all cardboard is the same, and some of it is thicker and less likely to break down than others. This could lead to blockage which means a sure trip to the vet for your cat.

What Happens If My Cat Eats Cardboard

If your cat eats only a small amount of cardboard, then you will likely not notice anything new or strange in your cat at all.

However, eating a large amount of cardboard could cause a blockage in your cat’s stomach or intestines. Some signs of a blockage in cats include but may not be limited to: 

● Constipation 

● Vomiting 

● Signs of dehydration 

● Diarrhea 

● Weight loss and a loss of appetite 

● Lethargy 

Intestinal blockages are severe in cats, so you must take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect that they have one. In addition, you should take your cat to the vet immediately if you have found that they have eaten a large amount of cardboard as well.  

How Do I Stop My Cat From Eating Cardboard

Getting your cat to stop eating cardboard depends entirely on why your cat is engaging in this kind of behavior. For instance, if your cat is chewing on cardboard because they are bored, increasing playtime and buying them more toys are the main ways you can stop this bad habit.

Finding cat food that your cat likes is how you can stop hunger-driven cardboard chewing, and you may need to take your cat to the vet if dental problems cause their chewing. 

Things To Consider 

There are some other things to consider when it comes to cats chewing on cardboard. These include when to seek help from a professional and when you should take your cat to the vet. Here are some other things that you should consider about cats chewing cardboard. 

When To Seek Professional Help

While cardboard boxes being chewed up by cats is normal, there are some situations where the behavior becomes severe. If you feel like you’re at the point where your cat needs an intervention, it may be time to seek professional help with the situation.

Some people may not know that there are cat behaviorists that specialize in solving behavioral problems in cats. They work in a similar way that dog trainers do for our canine friends.

Suppose your cat is chewing on boxes and other things because they are overly possessive or territorial. In that case, you may benefit from getting this kind of professional help, especially if this kind of behavior is becoming out of hand. 

These services can be somewhat expensive though. Usually, cat behaviorist consultations range anywhere from $375 – $450. These plans do come with a calendar and last around 30 days to get a full scope of the situation and best figure out how to deal with your cat’s behavior.

Ultimately, the more simple and less expensive option is to just remove cardboard boxes from the home and not encourage the behavior. Do this early, as it’s hard to get rid of this impression when the cats pass the kitten stage.

When To See A Vet

If you believe that your cat is chewing on cardboard because they have dental disease or another kind of medical problem, then you must take them to the vet as soon as possible.

This will not only reduce this behavior in your cat, but it will put them on the road to recovery as well. Similarly, you should take your cat to the vet immediately if you believe that they are in danger of having a bowel obstruction.