What can I do with my cat that destroys paper products?

Our question this week was:

I have a male cat “Spunky” who’s 7 months old. He tends to tear up any type of paper from cardboard boxes, my mail, to the newspaper. What is the reason for this and how can I get him to stop?

Lisa Zywot


Hi – thanks for your email. It sounds like your cat is well named Lisa – “Spunky” seems to suit him! You wrote that Spunky is determined to destroy paper products around the house.

Spunky is a kitten exploring his environment and with more energy than he knows what to do with. He is probably doing it because it is fun and has become a “game” to him.

What can you do?

1. Hide all your important papers in the mean time.

2. You can ensure that he has LOTS of other toys and stimulation. Try balls, feathery flyers, laser pointers, and furry mice. Play with him and wear him out. Provide additional stimulation such as a window perch, cat tree and a scratching post. You can also get some corrugated cardboard type scratching posts that are disposable (that may be appealing to him since he likes paper products).

3. You can reward and praise him with he is playing with appropriate toys.

4. You can consider punishing him when he is destroying something inappropriate. To do this – you can get a squirt bottle with water and spray him when he is doing something he shouldn’t. It is important that this seem like an “act of God” and not an act from you. This will help instill that he not only do it when you are there but always.

5. Clicker training. Go to this article for more information.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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