Does Your Cat Eat Paper or Non-food Items?
9 April, 2014

A lot of cats are picky eaters and only like certain foods.  And then there are those cats who eat everything including paper, plants and/or other non- food items. If the eating of non –food items happens occasionally, not to worry.  However, if this happens often, your cat could be suffering from pica which is essentially the eating of items other than food.

Pica usually occurs in kittens that were weaned too early

Pica tends to occur in cats that were weaned too early. The younger a cat is weaned, the stronger its drive to nurse and the more likely the cat is to suck on wool or hair. Although some cats may only suck on items as wool, fleece, and stuffed animals, others progress to eating these fabrics.  And some cats move on to eating stranger items such as shoelaces, paper, plastic goods like grocery bags and shower curtains, and even electrical cords.


If your kitty or cat eats non-food items often, you should take your cat to the vet to rule out any medical issue or problem.  Sometimes pica can be related to a feline virus and are trigger points for other medical issues.

If your vet has ruled out a medical issue, below are some reasons your cat might be eating paper or other non –food items:

Dietary deficiencies

Some cats will eat a little grass or a lot of plant material which could indicate something’s missing from the cat’s diet.  Make sure your cat is getting enough nutrients and protein in his or her diet.  Water is also very important.

Genetic predisposition

For some cats, pica appears to be in their genes. For example, wool sucking, sometimes a precursor to pica, is seen more frequently in Siamese cats.  Siamese tend to like to nosh on non-food items.

Your cat might be bored

Your cat might be eating paper because he is bored and wants your attention.  Try to engage or play with you cat or give him a toy to chew on instead of paper.

Compulsive disorder:

If none of the above applies, it could be that your kitty has a compulsive disorder.  If you think this could be the case (which you should consult with your vet), you might need to take your cat to a behavioral specialist.

Below are some recommendations on how to get your cat to stop to eating non-food items:

Remove or hide the culprit items

The easiest solution may be simply to hide the clothes, plants, or other items your cat loves to chew on.  Make sure they are in a place where you cat can’t find them.

Give your cat something else to chew

Try to get your cat to chew safer, more appropriate things like cat toys or some other stuffed toy that is fun for your cat to chew. To keep grass-eating cats from sampling houseplants, put them in a place where your cat can’t reach them.

Play with your cat

Some cats that chew on non-food items are just bored or lonely. So make time for your bored kitty by giving her more mental or physical stimulation. Some cats enjoy outdoor enclosures where they can watch birds and other stimulating things during the day while you are away.

Make appealing items unappealing

Try applying strong-smelling substances like citrus air-freshener or foul-tasting things like hot sauce to items like power cords to keep your cats away from them. You can even put a lemon scent on the pot of your plants to see if that helps keep your kitties away.

Talk to an animal behaviorist

As mentioned above, if your cat continues to eat non-food items and you know it’s not a medical issue, look for a certified animal behaviorist who can work closely with your own veterinarian.

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