Why do cats chew on cardboard | A sign of bad health?

why do cats chew on cardboard

Cats are wonderful gifts that humans got from nature. We love to spend time with our playful cats. Were you being curious why do cats chew on cardboard. Well, it can be several reasons. 

Why do cats chew on cardboard? 

A habit from the past 

Cats were natural predators before they evolved into domestic animals. But their instincts are still present. Sometimes their instincts are geared up for hunting even if they don’t need to catch their dinner because you will prepare it. So, cats tend to simulate activities related to hunting like scratching, chewing, or licking on a cardboard surface. These are important survival skills even they don’t need them. That is one reason why do cats chew on cardboard. 

Cats are territory makers 

Animals who belong to the cat family (Felidae) are territory markers. So, cats have scent glands in various places all over their bodies. They are doing this by rubbing their body on furnishers, your leg, etc. Cats chewing on cardboards can be another territory-making method. Perhaps they want to clarify that “this item belongs to me”. It can happen to furniture too. I know it is not desirable but don’t get mad about cats. They don’t know what these items are. But they want everyone to know the borders of their kingdoms. That is the point. 

Oral health concerns 

Kittens have baby teeth as we did in our childhood. They are growing so fast. Kittens may feel this in their sore gums. So, they tend to chew on cardboard and other household materials. Mice are showing similar behavior because they are keeping their constantly growing teeth in check. But some cats eat non-food items because of another reason why do cats chew on cardboard, health issues. Especially with thyroid hormones. Take the cat to a veterinarian immediately if you are concerned because it can cause inflammation of their gum tissues. 

Just because they are bored 

Cats were predators which means they are individual explorers. They are playful and like to play with things and chew things. You should let them enjoy. They are individual spirits. Unlike most humans, they can enjoy themselves. So, if you got the cold shoulder that is not because the cat doesn’t like you. It can entertain itself for a long time with activities like chewing on cardboard. Sometimes it will end up creating a mess. But some cats are very destructive when they have anxiety issues. You should do something about it like adding new toys. 

Some cats are creative 

I know this sounds extreme, but some cat owners claim that their cats are creating a work of art just for them. Summing up all they said, cats are not just mindlessly chewing cardboard but shaping cardboard boxes for their use. For example, creating a semi-circle just the right size for him to rest his chin on. So, one question I was concerned about is if it is strange behavior. Turn out it is quite different. 

Are cats chewing on cardboard strange or normal? 

It is not normal. Some cats do this because of all the above reasons. They like the feeling of the texture of cardboard, and it generates satisfying noise for them. Even though it is not common, cats chewing on cardboard is not very strange either. It is all fun for them. 

Most of the time this is not a big problem. But sometimes it can be destructive and as I mentioned above some health issues can cause this behavior. 

Could it be a sign of bad health? 

No, it does not. Well at least for the most part. I would not say it is just like eating paper because there are some things you worry about cats chew on cardboard. 

Beware of toxic materials 

Each kind of cardboard has different chemical composition. Some chemicals can be very toxic for cats. Especially ones that add to improve characteristics like water resistance or sturdiness. 

Sharp edges 

Cardboard boxes have sharp corners. If cats play with those they can get hurt. Even injuries in the worst-case scenario. 

Don’t allow to swallow 

Eating cardboard is bad even if it has no toxic chemicals. Chew on cardboard is fun for cats and cat owners but eating cardboard doesn’t. Eating cardboard can be a reason for intestinal blockage. Cats don’t do this, but it can be caused by pica. 

Pica is a term used to describe the consumption of non-edible materials. Many substances cannot be digested in the same way as food. Undigested or poorly digested substances are the reason for vomiting and other digestive system issues. So, think twice before you give cardboard to cats and keep checking on them. 

How to stop this from happening? 

There are several tricks you can use. 

Replace it with a harmless habit 

To do this first you have to find why do cats chew on cardboard. Then you can redirect that behavior to a harmless acceptable one. For example, think your cat eating cardboard because of its instinct to hunt. Once you find that you can try some toys instead of cardboard. 

Just like that redirecting existing behavior to a better one is the best way of preventing cats from chewing on cardboard. 

No box for cats 

Another very effective way of preventing this is to get all cardboard boxes in your house out of the cat’s reach. If you can’t recycle them after use, try to hide them. Now your cat doesn’t have any cardboard left to chew on. So, give it some toys to play with. 

Try to disappoint cats 

Spray something on a cardboard surface that makes it does not taste good. Your cat will come to chew too happily but get disappointed immediately. That makes them not chew on cardboard again. Clever technique. 

Train the cat 

Unlike dogs, cats can be hard to train. But you can try spraying a light spritz of water. Do that when you caught it chew on cardboard. Cats don’t like to be wet. So, it will change this behavior. 


Cats chew on cardboard neither common nor rare behavior. Understanding why cats chew on cardboard is very important to act. There are 5 main reasons for doing this. Swallowing cardboard is bad for cats. 

I hope this article has improved your knowledge. Stay with us for more. 


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