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Cat eating newspaper

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Our question this week was:

My two-year-old cat has recently begun to eat and shred newspaper. Is this healthy and why would she do this all of a sudden?

Cindy Schawalder


Hi – thanks for your email. Interesting problem! So your 2-year-old kitty has suddenly started to eat and shred newspaper. This is not a common problem!

I'll tell you my thoughts. I'm trying to figure out if this is a behavioral problem, a play behavior or a nutritional issue. Ingestion of nonfood type items is called "Pica". It would be uncommon for a cat to have "pica" because of nutritional deficiencies. You never know, so I'll mention it (no stone unturned, right?).

For some cats, shredding and chewing newspaper could be a new game. It could also be a way of playing and "fun" for him.

It could be a behavioral problem, such as he is bored.

Other causes include: Gastrointestinal maldigestive and malabsorptive disorders (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, severe inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal lymphosarcoma), diseases that cause an increased appetite such as hyperadrenocorticism, or diabetes mellitus, or Iron deficiency anemia.

This is what I recommend:

  • First, watch your kitty closely and make sure that he is eating well, drinking well, having normal urine and bowel movement and maintaining his weight. If he is drinking or eating more, that is also abnormal. If he is having ANY abnormalities – I'd recommend that you have him checked by your veterinarian.

  • Make sure you are feeding a high quality food. Choose an AAFCO approved for young active cats. For example, Hill's Science Diet Feline Adult Maintenance Formula. In my opinion, when you pay for a premium food, you can ensure that your cat is getting the vitamins and nutrients that he needs (which I can't be assured of with other non-premium brands).

  • Make sure you are spending time with your cat. Spend some quiet time petting him, combing, brushing, or doing other things that he likes.

  • Play with your cat. Figure out his play preference and play like crazy. If he likes to chase things, get a "feline flyer" type toy. I have a really good article by one of our staff veterinarians on how to figure out your cats play preference and choose the best toys. Go to Cat Toys – Selecting the Right Toys for Your Cats Play Preference. (I'd recommend playing with him for 10 to 20 minutes a few times a day. Wear him out. Let him get a good play time and good and tired. You can even use the feathery flyer while you are watching TV or something.

    An article that might be helpful to you is on our is "Pica in Cats"

    Best of luck!

    Dr. Debra

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