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Why do cats like cardboard and paper so much?

As a cat parent, have you ever wondered why your feline friend can’t seem to resist cardboard boxes and paper bags? It’s a common phenomenon that has puzzled many of us. But fear not. As an expert in feline behavior, I’m here to shed some light on this curious behavior.

So, what’s the deal with cats and cardboard/paper? Is it the texture, the thrill of hiding in confined spaces, or something else entirely? After years of research and observation, I’ve found that there are several reasons why cats love these everyday objects.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the science behind your cat’s attraction to cardboard and paper. From their innate hunting instincts to their playful nature, we’ll explore all the fascinating reasons why these simple objects drive our furry friends wild. And don’t worry – we’ll also provide practical tips for satisfying your cat’s cardboard/paper fix without any harm.

Whether you’re a seasoned cat owner or new to the game, join me as we uncover the mysteries of why cats love cardboard and paper so much. You might be surprised at what you discover.

What is Cardboard and Paper?

Cardboard and paper are ubiquitous materials that we interact with on a daily basis. Cardboard, a type of paper-based material, is thicker and more durable than regular paper. It is made from wood pulp or recycled materials and comes in different forms, such as corrugated cardboard. Paper, on the other hand, is a thin and flexible material made from wood pulp or other fibers. Both cardboard and paper are eco-friendly materials that can be recycled or composted.

But did you know that cats also have an inexplicable attraction to cardboard and paper? These materials seem to hold a special allure for our feline friends, who can often be found playing with cardboard boxes or chewing on crumpled up pieces of paper.

Firstly, the texture of cardboard and paper is particularly appealing to cats. The rough surface of cardboard provides an excellent scratching surface for their claws, while the crinkly sound of paper can be a source of entertainment. Cats love to play with objects that are soft, pliable, and easy to manipulate with their paws and teeth.

Secondly, cats are attracted to the smell of cardboard and paper. These materials can absorb scents from their surroundings, which can make them intriguing to cats. Additionally, the odor of cardboard and paper may mimic certain pheromones that cats find appealing.

Lastly, cardboard boxes and paper bags provide the perfect hiding spot for cats to play and explore their environment. As natural hunters, cats have a strong instinct to seek out small spaces where they can stalk and pounce on prey. A cardboard box or paper bag provides a safe and fun place for them to indulge in this behavior.

So why not indulge your cat’s fascination with these materials? Providing your feline friend with a few cardboard boxes or paper bags is a cheap and easy way to keep them entertained. Just make sure they’re not ingesting large amounts of these materials.

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The Satisfying Texture of Cardboard and Paper

It’s not just a mere coincidence that our whiskered companions love these materials. The texture of cardboard and paper is one of the main reasons why cats are attracted to them.

Cats are natural scratchers, and scratching on surfaces helps them shed old claws, mark their territory, and stretch their muscles. The rough texture of cardboard and paper provides a similar sensation to scratching on a tree bark, which is instinctive for cats.

But it’s not just the rough texture that cats find appealing. The slightly abrasive surface of cardboard and paper allows them to dig their claws in easily, providing a satisfying sensation that they enjoy. Additionally, the softness and malleability of these materials make them perfect for kneading with their paws.

The sound of cardboard and paper is another factor that makes them irresistible to cats. The rustling sound created when they scratch or play with these materials can be stimulating for some cats. It mimics the sound of prey moving in leaves or grass, triggering their hunting instincts.

Moreover, the natural scent of cardboard and paper can attract cats. The smell of cardboard may remind them of trees or other natural materials found in the wild. The scent of paper may also remind them of their litter box or other familiar scents.

The Smell of Cardboard and Paper

As an expert on the smell of cardboard and paper, I’m here to reveal the reasons behind this curious behavior.

Firstly, let’s talk about the smell. Cardboard and paper are made from plant-based materials that emit a natural scent which cats find irresistible. This odor is akin to the pheromones that cats produce themselves, which explains their attraction to it. Think of it as their version of an all-natural air freshener – but instead of lavender and mint, they prefer the earthy, woody scent of cardboard and paper.

However, it’s not just the smell that draws cats in; it’s also the texture. The rough, porous surface of cardboard and paper is perfect for scratching, kneading, and stretching their muscles. It mimics the sensation of clawing at tree bark – a natural behavior for cats in the wild. Additionally, the rustling sound that cardboard makes as they scratch it satisfies their hunting instincts.

Interestingly enough, cardboard and paper can even have a calming effect on cats. A study conducted by The Royal Society found that exposure to the scent of cardboard boxes reduced stress and anxiety levels in cats. Perhaps this is why you might find your cat napping inside a box – it provides a cozy and secure space for them to relax.

Moreover, cat owners might also find it fascinating that cardboard and paper absorb scents easily due to their porous texture. This means if a cat urinates or marks their territory on these materials, the scent remains longer than it would on other surfaces. For this reason, cats may be drawn to cardboard and paper that has been previously marked by other cats.

Simple Entertainment for Cats

There is a simple and affordable solution that your cat will adore – cardboard boxes and paper.

The texture of cardboard and the crinkly sound of paper are like catnip for your kitty. It imitates the sensation of scratching and hunting prey in the wild, which is why cats find it so irresistible. Plus, it’s perfect for their paws to sink into and get a good stretch.

However, it’s not just about texture. Cardboard boxes and paper provide the perfect practice ground for your cat to hone their natural instincts, such as pouncing, stalking, and hiding. It’s like having their own little jungle gym, where they can jump in and out of boxes or hide behind paper walls.

But wait, there’s more. Cardboard boxes and paper also offer mental stimulation for cats. They offer a sense of security and comfort, which can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats. Additionally, tearing, shredding, and unraveling cardboard and paper offers a mental challenge for cats, keeping their minds active and engaged.

So next time you’re looking for simple entertainment for your cat, grab a cardboard box or some scrap paper. Your cat will appreciate it. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Cut holes in the box and hide treats inside for your cat to find.
  • Make a maze out of cardboard boxes and watch your cat navigate through it.
  • Crumple up paper into balls and play fetch with your cat.
  • Create a DIY scratching post by wrapping cardboard around a pole or tree trunk.

Natural Instincts to Play and Explore

Cats are born explorers and hunters. Their innate curiosity drives them to investigate and examine their surroundings, always on the lookout for new things to play with and explore. As a cat owner, you can satisfy your furry friend’s natural instincts by providing them with cardboard boxes and paper, which are the ultimate sources of entertainment for cats.

Cardboard boxes provide cats with a safe and secure environment to play, hide, and sleep in. The texture of cardboard is also satisfying for cats to scratch and claw at, which helps them maintain healthy claws. Moreover, cardboard boxes offer opportunities for cats to practice their hunting skills by pouncing on imaginary prey or exploring new territories.

In addition to cardboard boxes, paper is also a beloved item amongst many cats. The crinkly sound paper makes when played with stimulates their senses and satisfies their natural urge to hunt. The texture of paper also allows cats to engage in playful behaviors such as shredding and tearing, which is a fun activity for them. Furthermore, playing with paper can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats, providing mental stimulation and promoting relaxation.

By giving your cat cardboard boxes and paper, you are providing them with outlets to engage in natural behaviors that promote physical and mental health. Whether it’s tearing up a piece of paper or hiding away in a cardboard box, these activities offer your feline friend the mental stimulation they need to stay entertained, happy, and healthy.

Other Materials that Cats Enjoy

Cats are known for their curious nature and playful personalities. They love to explore their surroundings and discover new things to play with. While cardboard and paper are typical favorites, there are plenty of other materials that cats find fascinating.

Plastic is one such material that many cats seem to enjoy. Its crinkly texture and sound can be irresistible to your feline friend. However, it’s important to keep in mind that plastic can be harmful if ingested, so it’s crucial to supervise your cat during playtime.

On the softer side, fabric materials like blankets, towels, and even clothing items are also a hit with cats. Many cats enjoy kneading or pawing at these items, and some even snuggle up in them for a cozy nap. But beware of shedding.

If you’re looking for more natural materials, wood and wicker can also pique a cat’s interest. The textures may remind them of the great outdoors, and the scent of wood or wicker can be particularly enticing.

For some cats, the unconventional is what they crave. Aluminum foil or bubble wrap may not seem like obvious choices for toys, but their noise or unique texture can offer an exciting sensory experience for your curious kitty.

Potential Health Hazards of Eating Cardboard or Paper

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It’s important to remember that these seemingly harmless materials can pose potential health hazards to our furry companions. As an expert on the matter, I’ve done my research and have compiled a comprehensive list of potential dangers to keep in mind.

Gastrointestinal blockages are one of the main concerns when it comes to cats ingesting cardboard or paper. These materials can accumulate in their digestive system, causing blockages that prevent food from passing through. This can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and even more serious health complications such as intestinal perforation.

Choking is another danger that cat owners should be aware of. Cats may accidentally swallow larger pieces of cardboard or paper, which can become lodged in their throat and cause them to choke. This can be a life-threatening situation that requires immediate veterinary attention.

In addition, cardboard and paper may contain harmful chemicals or toxins that can be hazardous if ingested. For instance, some cardboard boxes may have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals during manufacturing. Similarly, printed paper may contain inks or dyes that could be toxic if consumed in large quantities.

To ensure your furry friend’s safety, it’s crucial to monitor their playtime and limit their access to potentially dangerous materials. Provide them with safer alternatives such as toys made specifically for cats, or other non-toxic materials that they can play with safely. If you do notice your cat exhibiting symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or difficulty breathing after ingesting cardboard or paper, seek veterinary attention immediately.

How to Keep Your Cat Safe

Here are some practical tips to keep your cat safe around these materials:

Monitor Your Cat’s Behavior

Cats are curious creatures, and they may love to play with cardboard and paper. However, ingesting these materials can lead to serious health complications, such as blockages in the digestive system. To prevent this, make sure to supervise your cat when they are playing with cardboard or paper and remove any small pieces that may be easily swallowed.

Provide Alternative Toys

To satisfy your cat’s desire to scratch and play, consider providing them with alternative toys that are safer for them to play with. Interactive puzzle toys or stuffed animals can keep your cat entertained without putting them in harm’s way.

Store Chemicals Safely

Any potentially harmful chemicals, such as glue or ink, should be kept away from your cat’s reach. Store household cleaners and other dangerous chemicals in secure cabinets or out of reach of your cat.

Check for Sharp Edges

Before allowing your cat to play with cardboard or paper products, make sure they are free of sharp edges or staples that could injure your cat. Check all boxes and packaging before giving them to your feline friend.

Introduce New Items Cautiously

If you bring in a new piece of furniture or decoration made of cardboard or paper, observe how your cat reacts to it and make any necessary adjustments to ensure their safety. For example, if your cat starts chewing on a new cardboard box, it might be best to remove it from their environment.


In conclusion, the allure of cardboard and paper to cats is multi-faceted. The rough texture of cardboard provides an ideal surface for satisfying their scratching needs, while the crinkly sound of paper stimulates their hunting instincts. Moreover, these materials tend to absorb scents from their surroundings, making them even more intriguing to our feline friends.

However, it’s essential to keep a close eye on your cat’s playtime with these materials as ingestion can lead to severe health complications such as gastrointestinal blockages or choking. Therefore, it’s crucial to provide alternative toys that are safer for your cat to play with and store potentially harmful chemicals out of reach.

Before giving your cat any boxes or packaging made of cardboard or paper, make sure you check them thoroughly for any hazards. Observe how your cat reacts to new items made of these materials and ensure they don’t ingest them.

By taking these precautions into account, offering a few cardboard boxes or paper bags is an affordable way to keep your furry friend entertained while satisfying their natural instincts.