cat chewing cardboard

newhomeseekerApril 20, 2010

I have a 2 year old cat who over the last few weeks has started chewing up everything in the house. she likes to gnaw on cardboard boxes. She shreds them (doesn't eat the cardboard) and then moves on to something else. Chews at the corners. She has started my 9 month old kitten doing this as well. They have acccess to plenty of food so it can't be from hunger. I thought maybe it is boredom but they have 6 other playmates to interact with. I thought maybe it is stress but actually she should be LESS stressed out now because I used to have 5 young kittens and a new adult cat (fosters) in the house and over the past few months most have left and we are down to one new adult cat (she's been there 3 months so she's not NEW) and 2 older kittens (9 months- the young kittens that have grown up).

My cardboard chewing cat is a tortie. She is very high strung- doesn't like to be petted much or picked up. She is very demanding and acts like a spoiled child sometimes. She is a sweetie though. I found her as a 5 week old kitten and she was the baby of the family for about a year until I found five kittens abandoned. Then most of the attention went to them and I'm sure she felt slighted. (if cats can feel that way). She used to sleep on the bed with us (glued to my side) but now she doesn't because the kittens are there along with one of my adult cats. Normally she is happy (she walks around with her tail curled when she is in a good mood and she hardly grumbles at the kittens anymore. She loves to play with two of them( one that just got adopted and another that I still have)

She has also taken to chewing water bottles (we find them leaking with teeth marks in them). she sometimes chews on pens. I have no idea what to do about this behavior. I've tried spending more time with her, giving her more attention (she doesn't tolerate affection for very long) and she seems to like my efforts but still keeps chewing on everything. She is fed a variety of food (canned and dry) so I don't see how she's not getting the correct nutrients she needs. Why is she doing this?

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Check her gums for inflammation.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 10:49AM
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To me it sounds like she thinks she is a dog. My dog loves to chew cardboard and plastic bottles.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 1:31PM
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She's miserable & stressed out;
Cats are territorial, & they don't like kittens in their environment any more than they like adult cats, especially if the cat in question is tightly wound & the kittens are even sleeping in *her* place.

& kittens don't get the signals that adult cats would get;
if she hisses at another adult cat, the cat will likely try to avoid her.

If she hisses at a kitten, the kitten is just as apt to arch its back & dance at her!

I'd guess that the cardboard is handy & easy to chew, & for some reason those plastic water bottles are irresistable to chewers feline, canine, & human.

If she were my cat, I'd try Feliway
(& I'd also try to find homes for those small invaders!).

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 5:47PM
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If she is not ingesting the materials she si chewing AND the vet has ruled out any problems with her gums or teeth (I would suggest making an appointment immediately) then your cat is probably exhibiting OCD behavior and is somehow stessed out, depending on HOW frequently this is happening. She may just need more stimuating toys, in which case I suggest going to get a CAT DANCER and some other interactive toys to help settle her down.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 6:30PM
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Thanks for the suggestions. My first thought was that she is stressed but the kittens have been there since sept. 2009 and there were five of them and two left before Christmas and the third left last weekend. Her behavior has only been going on for a few weeks and there haven't been any new stressors introduced to her environment so I'm not sure why suddenly she'd be stressed out. I do have an appt. at my vet for her in two weeks.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 7:57AM
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If she's been happy with the kittesn, this may be a health problem.

If she were my kitty, I'd call the vet & be very sweet to the person on the appointment desk & see if I could get her in sooner.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 5:15PM
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Sounds like a common problem people have when they try to keep a cat in the house. It just isn't natural. Cats are predators and are nocturnal. They want to be outside -- they want to hunt. They can be great indoor animals if their outdoor instincts are available to them.

We have always had indoor/outdoor cats and they are just great. No peeing/marking inside and no silly problems with chewing cardboard and stuff. I know this is not possible for many but it sure is possible for people in areas where your cat can be outdoors sometimes.

Sorry people, cats are not indoor animals. How would you like to live in a cage????

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 6:30PM
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How'd you like to take your chances in an environment full of dogs 8 times your size, vehicles maybe 100 times your size, brats with bb guns, kids who want a kitty & cart you off to their house only to drop you back outside the door when mom or dad says no, anti-freeze, animal control, hostile ferals, & coyotes?

Many cats live happily indoors, & indoor cats generally last a lot longer than outdoor or "indoor/outdoor" cats.

If your cats have lived long happy lives & never developed any of these "silly" problems, you've been fortunate indeed, but newhomeseeker's concern is valid, & I'm glad she's getting info & taking steps to take care of it.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 6:55PM
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I found a new vet I'm going to try and have an appointment on wed. Hopefully this isn't health problem. I've noticed she has a lot more energy lately. She always wants to play and goes crazy if you dangle a string in front of her. She is also going over to the kittens and pouncing on them trying to engage them in play when they are sitting or resting. Maybe she has too much excess engery?

And my take on the indoor outdoor thing- growing up we had indoor outdoor cats but not many of them lived very long. We didn't live close to the road but still had one cat killed on the road, others were attacked and killed by dogs, poisioned by drinking anti freeze, trampled by a horse, and some did make it to old age. My cats will NEVER be indoor/outdoor kitties. they are perfectly content inside in their climate controlled environment. I had a foster cat that was an indoor/outdoor cat (her previous owners) and I brought her in when I found her with kittens. She lived inside for about 3 months after living outside (her owners abandoned her so she was living outside) for probably about a year. After her kittens were weaned I tried to put her back outside and that cat wouldn't budge. Didn't want any part of the outdoors. She was perfectly content to be a lazy house cat in a safe environment.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 9:37AM
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newhomeseeker, your cat may be under a lot more stress than you can imagine. Change is difficult and it sounds like your home has been undergoing change since you got the kittens. If the behavior recently started, she could be reacting to the kids moving out (more change). She may be using it as a way to get some attention from you. Her playfulness may be an indication the stress is subsiding. I'd recommend leaving your home as pet stable as possible to let her recover. Please post back and let us know what the vet says; I truly hope there are no health issues.

Everyone's entitled to their opinion on inside/outside cats. All I can tell you is every cat I've ever had has been totally indoors, happy and healthy, living to a relatively old age (14+ - died from cancer; 20+ - died from old age diseases; 17+ - newly CRF and enjoying life although he's terrified of the outdoors).

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 12:31PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Our indoor cat chomps (does not eat) on card board occasionally, too. He also chews on his toys sometimes, and our socks. It appears to be perfectly normal, healthy behavior for him. No WAY is he stressed out, nor angst ridden because he is not outside. He won't go outside when you leave the door wide open, lol!

Since his gums and teeth are in great shape (per our vet's comments), I'm guessing that his cardboard chewing is his own way of substituting for the outdoor behavior of eating birds and rodents. No thanks!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 6:03PM
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