Skip to Content

Is Your Cat Eating Cardboard? Here’s What It Means!

Is Your Cat Eating Cardboard? Here’s What It Means!

Cats always find a way to amuse us and do silly things. If you find your cat eating cardboard, you might not think much of it.

You’re used to her reckless behavior but this one seems a bit odd. Why does she decide to munch down on that old piece of cardboard? Does it have to do something with the felines’ obsession with cardboard boxes?

I know that every cat parent went through this. You buy them all these expensive cat beds and climbing posts to rest on but they choose a plain cardboard box. Why do they have to be so complicated?

It’s like they’re saying “What? You’re the one that’s complicated. All I asked for was a simple cardboard box and yet you keep bringing those fluffy things called beds.” Sometimes, their weird behavior can leave us puzzled.

So, we know they appreciate cheaper stuff, but why chew down on it? You might give up on pondering about it. I guess I’ll never know the weird ways my cat chooses to take.

Cats aren’t really known for destroying beds as their canine counterparts do. They will either like it and spend most of the time in its comfiness, or they’ll totally avoid it.

So why is your cat choosing to destroy the cardboard while she leaves her bed untouched? Does she really hate it that much?! This is a tough question.

However, there are a few possible reasons why your cat’s eating cardboard. It could potentially be health-related or a sign of some behavioral changes.

A feline that’s eating inedible things might be something worthy of concern. On the other hand, it could be an insignificant thing done only for fun.

Is a cat eating cardboard a normal behavior?

Is Your Cat Eating Cardboard? Here's What It Means!

I’m not really sure what’s considered to be normal behavior in the cat world. You know that they don’t play by any rules except the ones they make up. So, is this fondness for cardboard some made-up rule?

Sure, there are a few behavioral patterns that we’re acquainted with. But sometimes, they think of some crazy stuff, such as this.

So how would you know if a cat eating cardboard is a normal thing? To make things easier for you, there’s nothing to worry about, your cat is perfectly normal.

Cat chewing up cardboard isn’t too weird and it has several meanings behind it. Although you shouldn’t really encourage this behavior, it should be safe for her.

Chewing a piece of this material is nothing serious as long as she spits it out. On the contrary, if she swallows it, it might be something to worry about.

If she consumes it regularly, it might create problems for her digestive system. Now the real question is: why on earth do they choose to chomp on cardboard?

Why is my cat eating cardboard?

If only you could ask your cat why she does certain things. I can’t imagine what the answer would be. Perhaps something like “How dare you question my decisions?”

I know that the response would probably have a grumpy tone to it. Either way, we’d definitely like to know the answers to some of the questions.

The feline world is full of surprises and things we have yet to discover. Therefore, I bet you’ll be surprised when I explain some of the possible reasons for this behavior.

But first of all, let’s get one thing straight. Cats are animals that are guided by their instincts. Accordingly, they’ll do things that might not be crystal clear to us.

One of these things includes a cat eating cardboard. Surely, you must think to yourself “Why are their instincts telling them to do it?

1. Teething and dental issues

Let’s start from the beginning and talk about their cutest period, also known as the kitten stage. Just like humans, furry babies grow teeth which isn’t an easy process.

It can be dreadful for them because it can hurt and be very uncomfortable. Therefore, they need something to chew on.

It can be anything they come across that will give them some temporary relief. Kittens will do such a thing because their teeth and gums are sore and the nibbling soothes them.

Most of the time, it’s our hands and legs! So, if you’re a parent to a youngster, you might see your cat eating cardboard or just nibbling on it.

Also, adult felines might exhibit the same behavior. But their teeth aren’t growing, they’re adults. So why in the world would they chew on cardboard?

If your grown-up pet decided to chop up some of your old boxes, it can mean a couple of things. First and most unfortunate is that she has some dental health issues.

If she’s really keen on chewing it constantly, you might want to take her to the vet for a check-up. Perhaps she developed some inflammation on the gums like gingivitis or has a sore tooth.

On the other hand, she might be sharpening her razors! Felines need their teeth for a lot of things: eating, picking up things, fighting, etc.

If she was in the wild, she’d probably be biting down on some branches polishing up those white pearls. I don’t think I have to emphasize the importance of dental health in cats, but make sure she gets her regular check-ups!

2. Is my cat eating cardboard out of boredom?

Is Your Cat Eating Cardboard? Here's What It Means!

Do you think your cat has nothing else to do so she decides to pick out a random thing and chew on it? If so, then you’re completely right!

Felines can sometimes shock us with their choice of toys and cardboard is no exception. They don’t care if it wasn’t meant for them to play with.

Usually, once they set their minds on something, they’ll do everything in their power to succeed. So, if she sets her eyes on an old box, you bet she’s going to go get it.

Cats aren’t usually pets who are active for long hours. Unlike dogs, they just like hanging around the house or lying in their favorite spots throughout the day.

If a cat decides to have a bit of fun for a change, it’s going to be her way or no way. So, yes, it’s very possible that your cat is eating cardboard out of boredom.

However, this isn’t an ideal toy so you might want to switch up the cardboard for some other cat-appropriate toy. I know it’s not a piece of cake but you never know what might draw her interest!

3. Marking

I know what you’re thinking. This is a weird one. Well, aren’t most of the things cats do? How can marking be connected to your cat eating cardboard?

In the feline world, territory is a big thing. In the wild, your pet would be fighting off other cats for the best spot, even to death.

This behavior is no different when it comes to domesticated cats. They view their house as their territory and will make sure to let that known to others.

Although there aren’t any other animals around, marking the territory serves as a warning, just in case. On the other hand, if you own another pet, your cat might be sending them a crystal clear message.

Also, felines will bite down on things that they like. If you’ve ever been bit by your pet but without her breaking the skin, it was her saying “I love you”.

So all in all, your cat eating cardboard might be her telling others “This is mine. Back off!”, especially if you have more than one pet. It’s her way of marking the territory and showing her fondness for cardboard.

Next to biting and chewing, she might rub against it leaving her scent all over it. Once again, she’s sending a crucial message as if saying “I’m the boss of this cardboard.”

4. Cats being cats

Is Your Cat Eating Cardboard? Here's What It Means!

Yep, if your cat’s eating cardboard, she’s just being a cat! This doesn’t make any sense. Well, look at it this way: the end justifies the means.

What I meant to say is that cats are curious animals by nature and they like to explore things. Just like humans do it mostly with their hands, felines do it mostly with their mouths.

Their strongest sense is smell and taste is just around the corner, but they won’t hesitate to put other senses to use if needed. Therefore, if your cat’s eating cardboard, she just might be doing some exploring in her unique, cat way.

This way, she can feel the texture of the cardboard and even taste it. Although it’s not delicious, it might give out some sweet information.

For instance, she might tell who’s been here before her even though this kind of information comes mostly from her nose. Either way, nibbling down on different materials could also be a means of communication between felines.

On the other hand, scratching and tasting a piece of cardboard might come as a result of their hunting instincts. This is what they would do if they were outside preying on smaller birds and rodents.

Their predatory instincts are very strong. So, if your cat didn’t catch anything lately, she might be directing those instincts and urges at your storage box!

5. Creativity

Yes, you read that right. You have yourself a little artist that likes to emphasize her creativity in the weirdest ways possible.

Your beloved pet might chew down on the cardboard box for a good reason. If she’s been lately making it her home, she’ll want to adapt and upgrade the new house.

Therefore, she might chew out a hole or two in the cardboard box so she’s able to peek through. If she’s in love with this new playtoy, you might even save up some good money!

6. Pica syndrome

Unfortunately, this is a bit more of a serious matter. Eating cardboard can be all fun and games until you learn about Pica syndrome.

“It sounds cute. It shouldn’t be that serious.” Unfortunately, it’s something that could cause serious trouble to your feline friend.

To be more precise, Pica syndrome is your cat’s desire to eat inedible things. This mostly includes cardboard, paper, plastic, fabrics, and elastics.

It’s more common in kittens and younger felines but it can also happen to adult cats. Now, for the big question: what causes cats to eat inedible things?

There is a variety of reasons why they decide to chomp down on some paper or cardboard. For instance, your pet is perhaps experiencing some deficiencies in her diet.

Therefore, she’s trying to make up for the lack of something by consuming cardboard. Cardboard contains some calcium in it, so your pet may be on a hunt for this nutrient.

Other than that, things could get a bit more serious. If your furry friend insists on eating cardboard, she might be suffering from certain illnesses such as cat leukemia or other viruses.

How to stop my cat from eating cardboard?

Is Your Cat Eating Cardboard? Here's What It Means!

To put a stop to this behavior, you first must determine the cause. If your cat’s eating cardboard for medical reasons such as nutrient deficiency or another medical issue, you need to consult with your vet.

She might chew down on cardboard when she’s stressed as well. Therefore, you have to make sure to remove the trigger that’s causing her stress.

Perhaps you got a new kitten and they haven’t been introduced properly. This is a possible reason for your pet’s behavior.

Other factors include changes in the environment, changes in her routine, vet visit, etc. However, some of the triggers may not be that obvious.

So, once you find out what provoked this odd behavior, things will be easier for you. After that, you can try out a few methods to stop your cat from eating cardboard.

1. Remove it

I know this one seems too obvious. You’re maybe trying to redirect her attention to something else or you’re even scolding her when she nibbles down on it.

However, you soon find out that this isn’t working for you. Instead of yelling at your cat, simply remove the cardboard. This is also helpful because you’ll notice if your cat starts gnawing on something else.

When the cardboard is removed, she might settle down with some paper or fabrics. This can be an indicator that there’s something wrong with your pet.

On the other hand, if you remove the cardboard and you don’t see your pet eating anything else that’s inedible, it’s a win. Then you know she probably did it out of plain boredom and there’s nothing to be concerned about.

2. Replace it

No, I’m not telling you to replace the cardboard with another piece of cardboard or something that’s also inedible. You should replace it with something that’s more cat-appropriate.

This, once again, depends on the reason behind your cat eating cardboard. If she’s doing it just for fun, make sure to find some other ways to entice your pet.

Play with her, set up a search or hunt party, buy some new toys, etc. On the other hand, if she’s nibbling on the cardboard for medical reasons, replace it with adequate nutrients given by your vet.

Offer her some treats that are high in the said health supplement and encourage her to nibble down on them. This might be easier said than done, but it’s a must.

3. Spray it

This is a perfect solution if you can’t get rid of the cardboard. Perhaps you use the box as some kind of storage and it can’t be moved.

We know for sure that you can’t really forbid your pet entry into any room. Somehow, they always find their way around and sneak in when you’re not looking.

Therefore, you need to involve your imagination. Thankfully, you don’t have to bother too much because I have the perfect solution to your problem.

All you need is a spray that will do all the job and deter the cat away from the cardboard. You can buy it at pet shops or make one yourself!

Is Your Cat Eating Cardboard? Here's What It Means!