Cats feed their curiosity through their nose or mouth. They sniff, bite, or chew on various things at home to explore and learn. Guess what’s the favorite bathroom essential kitties love to chew on? Toilet paper! Cat parents will agree that seeing bits of torn toilet paper on the floor is a common sight in their homes. But, why do cats eat toilet paper? Let’s find out!
Why Does My Cat Eat Toilet Paper
There are many different reasons why cats eat toilet paper. As a cat parent, you may have typed in “why does my cat eat toilet paper” online numerous times to get some answers. After all, toilet paper is just a thin sheet of paper rolled on cardboard. It mostly doesn’t have an interesting scent of food that may attract cats. And, it also doesn’t taste like any food at all. Well, that is our perspective as humans, but cats may see that simple roll of paper differently.
The fact that the toilet paper rolls when pulled is already one good reason why cats are intrigued. Unlike any other household item, toilet paper is engaging to a cat because it reacts to their movement. When they chew it, it is also soft and easy to tear, which makes it a good target or “prey”. But this weird habit can also be brought about by some medical or dental issues. Or, maybe your kitty just wants to have fun, and that is why you see it shredding toilet paper into pieces.
Here are the other possible reasons why cats eat toilet paper.
Cats living indoors are more prone to boredom, especially when they are left alone most of the day. If your cat doesn’t have enough stimulating activities, it will start to look for other ways to release its energy. So, it will resort to destructive behavior such as chewing. And with the bathroom door open, toilet paper that is easily within reach is a perfect target.
A cat’s survival instincts influence its curious mind. In the wild, cats are both predators and prey. So, for them to survive, they need to know when to attack or how to flee. Although they don’t need to live in survival mode at home, they can’t help but exhibit their natural curious behavior. So, they explore and check out possible “prey” or “threats” including toilet paper.
We know that cats are great hunters. So, even if there isn’t any prey at home, it will search for one. Since toilet paper reacts by rolling when “attacked”, your cat thinks it can be prey. So, the next time you see your cat wrestling the defenseless toilet paper, maybe it’s just showing off its hunting prowess.
Cats eating toilet paper or other non-edible things may also be suffering from medical issues. For example, a psychological disorder called pica causes cats, dogs, or even humans with this illness to crave non-food items. If you aren’t sure of your kitty’s medical status, seek advice from your trusted vet.
If your cat is showing other symptoms in addition to that of pica, it may be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Signs that your cat has OCD include overgrooming, chasing its tail, repetitive actions or vocalization, and even self-mutilation. This illness also causes them to suck or chew wool or fabric. Since toilet paper gives that fabric feel, it can be another target to chew or eat.
Cats exhibit different abnormal behaviors due to stress, including destructive chewing. Factors that cause stress may vary. Changes at home like having new furniture, a new pet, or a stranger may stress out your cat. Changes in the diet and routine may also cause stress so as fear and pain. Because of stress, they may start to chew destructively, including eating toilet paper.
Kittens experience discomfort when teething. Their gums are sore, so they may be painful. To get some relief, they resort to chewing the furniture, plastic items at home, and personal items. But toilet paper trumps them all since it’s soft and gentle even to inflamed gums.
Is Paper Safe for Cats to Eat?
Paper is harmful to cats in huge quantities. It is not food, thus it has no nutritional value for your pet. Because it is not edible, cats shouldn’t be eating paper. But your kitty may ingest bits of toilet paper while shredding and scattering them all over the bathroom floor. Should you worry?
Paper is made from trees. Tree bark is processed to form pulp and then flattened and dried to eventually become paper. The paper-making process may involve chemicals and acids that may be toxic to cats. But it will take a significant amount for them to be hazardous to kitties. So, they’ll likely be okay if they accidentally chew and eat them. The paper will be digested and passed out of the body through their poop.
The biggest health risk cats can get from eating toilet paper is an intestinal blockage. If your kitty ate a lot of toilet paper, it can get stuck in the stomach and cause blockage. According to a study done at the University of Thessaloniki, Greece, intestinal blockage is a common cause of vet visits among cats and dogs due to the ingestion of foreign objects. Obstruction can be full or partial and may need surgery for treatment.
Signs of intestinal blockage in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite. More serious symptoms include dehydration, fever, cold body temperature, and abdominal swelling. If you notice these signs, bring your cat to the vet as soon as you can as an intestinal blockage can escalate and even become fatal.
How to Stop Your Cat From Unrolling Toilet Papers
Cats playing with toilet paper can cost you money and time. You can’t use those shredded toilet paper anymore, so you’ll have to replenish with new ones every time. Plus, you’ll have to spend time cleaning them up. Aside from that, your cat may be at risk of an intestinal blockage if they ingest toilet paper excessively. So, it’s best to prevent your cat from playing with and eating toilet paper. Here are our tips on how to stop your cat from unrolling toilet paper.
- Close your bathroom door at all times to prevent your kitty from getting inside.
- Choose a vertical orientation rather than a horizontal one when installing the toilet paper holder. This will make it less accessible to your cats.
- Use a toilet paper guard to protect toilet paper from kitties.
- Reshape the toilet paper roll into a square.
Additionally, you can also work on training your cat not to touch the toilet paper through positive reinforcement. Although this is more effective on kittens, there is no harm in trying it on your adult cats. Resolving the possible cause of this destructive behavior may also help curb the habit. Examples include treating underlying medical issues, keeping your cat active to prevent boredom, and reducing the causes of its stress.
Every cat is different, what works on one may not work on the other. So, you’ll go through a “trial and error” phase before finding out what’s effective for your kitty.
Why Do Cats Eat Toilet Paper: FAQs
Let’s take a look at the frequently asked questions about cats eating toilet paper and their corresponding answers.
The effect of toilet paper ingestion on your cat may vary. The harm caused by eating toilet paper depends on how much they ate. In small amounts, it can be harmless, but it can also be harmful if it’s in large quantities.
Since paper is from trees and is biodegradable, cats can digest them, only if they ate a small quantity. On the other hand, your cat’s tummy may be unable to digest large quantities of toilet paper. They may clump in the stomach and cause an intestinal blockage.
Cats eating toilet paper may mean different things, depending on the cause. Your cat may be suffering from medical issues such as OCD, or your cat may just be bored and want to have some fun. It may also mean your cat is just exercising their natural hunting skills.
Your cat may just be having fun ripping paper. But, it can also be a sign of destructive behavior, especially when paired with chewing or eating. Correct this behavior as early as you can to avoid having to deal with issues later on.
Cats can be obsessed with toilet paper for many reasons. It could be because it’s soft and fun to shred. It could also be because it rolls thus, stimulating their hunting instinct. However, there may also be serious reasons why your cat can’t leave the toilet paper alone. Your kitty may be bored, anxious, stressed, or suffering from medical issues.
It’s common for cats to play, tear, chew, and eat toilet paper. It may seem harmless but it can be a costly and detrimental habit. Cats tearing toilet paper and eating them in large amounts are at risk of harmful effects. So, correct this habit immediately and deny access to the bathroom so you won’t have to worry about your cat and your toilet paper costs.