My Cat Likes to Chew Paper and Plastic

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, offers advice for cats who like to chew unusual items.

By Jeanne Adlon | Posted: Jan. 9, 2009, 3 a.m. EST

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Q: My cat likes to chew and lick things like paper and plastic. Should I be worried?

A: This reminds me of a very funny incident during a cat- sitting house call. When one of my regular clients is traveling, she leaves instructions for the care of her cat, Herbie, on the kitchen table, along with my check. When I arrived to start caring for him during one of her trips, I did not see either the instructions or my check on the table. After a quick search, I noticed shredded paper strewn across the kitchen floor. Herbie had obviously knocked them down, chewed them to bits and generally had a field day playing with them. Fortunately, this was not my first visit and I knew how to care for him. From then on, though, everything essential got taped to a kitchen cabinet.

Cats are attracted to all sorts of objects and can make the strangest choices in what they want to chew or lick. One of my cats likes to lick my hair, which I do not encourage because he has enough trouble with hairballs. I have heard of another who likes to lick her owner's beard. Many of these are relatively harmless habits when done in small doses, unless they involve dangerous substances or anything that can be ingested.

I had a client whose cat Zoe became so constipated she had to take her to the vet because the poor kitty could not go to the bathroom. Amazingly enough, an X-ray revealed that Zoe’s stomach was filled with rubber bands. Her owner was flabbergasted!. It seems Zoe had been eating rubber bands over a period of time and had been unable to pass them. Fortunately, they were removed and all is well; however all office supplies in Zoe’s home are now safely tucked away.

There are plenty of cat toys that are perfect for being chewed, licked and fussed over. However, if your kitty is attracted to other things in your home, make sure they are not inappropriate. I knew someone whose cat liked to eat plastic bags, which is a no-no. Another can't leave her socks around because her cat likes to lick and knead them, which is fine for the kitty but leaves her with a drawer of wet socks. As always, use your common sense.

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Reader Comments

Eleanor    Deming, NM

2/6/2014 8:05:03 AM

My cat chews on the talble cloth(plastic), paper, cloth of sofa. We usually cover the table cloth areas andshe leaves it alone for a while. Then she chews it again (Forgot to cover). She has also began destroying (chewing,tearing) small play toys.
Is she missing something in diet,ailing, or retarded? OOps!
That covers most of the behaviors lately. She is approximately 2 years old but this behavior began a couple of months ago. we left for a about a week for a funeral but had a pet setter.



Donna Maire    Flagstaff, AZ

2/26/2012 6:50:21 AM

One of my cats will try to lick the muscle rub off of you. and she shreds paper and likes watermelon.

Melvin Hirtzel    Effingham, IL

7/15/2010 4:38:44 AM

I don't think anyone has looked into the real cause of cats licking and EATING plastic... I have never seen any reasonable reason. There has to be something the cat thinks it is gaining from the plastic... And eating it cannot be good for their gut. Our Himalaya get in a additive mode when he does this. This is our second Himalaya, the first one never did such a thing...

Other breeds that we have had were never observed with this behavior!
The vets are no help, they just look at you like your're daffy...

Rosalyn Estrada    Tulare, CA

6/18/2010 9:40:48 AM

I have a new kitten, she is eating and chewing everything, plants, plastic, she shreds her toys and eats the fibers. She chews the end of my husbands glasses when left on the coffee table. Our Vet suggested that we feed her can cat food only and we have seen an improvement. We have to keep small itesm off the floor and all surfaces or she will try and eat them, this morning it was a paper clip left on my desk.

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