What Are The Potential Risks Of Cats Eating Cardboard?

Disclaimer: The information presented below is for general informational & educational purposes only. Always consult with animal professionals in case of specific concerns.

In this post, we’ll explore some of the dangers of allowing your cat continuous access to cardboard and discuss tips for minimizing risks if your cat enjoys this niche hobby.

As any cat owner knows, our furry feline friends love to chew on cardboard. There’s just something about the texture that seems to fascinate cats and lead them to nibble and claw at boxes, packing materials, and other cardboard items. However, while cats find cardboard intriguing to play with, it may not be the safest thing for them to ingest. As harmless as cardboard may seem, there are actually some potential risks associated with cats eating this material. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the dangers of cats eating cardboard so owners can make informed decisions about providing enrichment activities and preventing health issues.

What Are The Potential Risks Of Cats Eating Cardboard?

Royalty-Free photo: Gray and black Calico cat on brown cardboard box | PickPik

Cats eating cardboard can lead to a variety of risks:

  • Choking hazard: Small pieces can get lodged in the cat’s throat, causing choking or blockages.
  • Digestive issues: Cardboard is not digestible and can cause gastrointestinal discomfort or obstructions.
  • Toxicity: If the cardboard is printed or contains adhesives, these can be toxic to cats.
  • Teeth damage: Persistent chewing on hard substances like cardboard can damage a cat’s teeth.
  • Behavioral concerns: If a cat persistently eats non-food items, including cardboard, it might be a sign of pica, a compulsive eating disorder.

Why Do Cats Eat Cardboard?

Cats may be driven to eat cardboard for several reasons. One theory is that the act of chewing can be stress-relieving for cats, similar to how some people use gum or snacks to cope with anxiety. Boredom is another common factor. Cats are naturally curious and playful, and without enough stimulation, they may resort to chewing on whatever is accessible — including cardboard. Additionally, some cats may be attracted to the smell or texture of cardboard. Finally, eating cardboard might be a sign telling that your cat is hungry. If a cat’s diet isn’t providing all the necessary nutrients, it might start eating non-food items in an attempt to balance its intake.

Can Eating Cardboard Indicate A Larger Health Issue In Cats?

Yes, if your cat persistently chews or eats cardboard, it can sometimes indicate a larger health issue. A condition known as pica can lead cats to eat non-food items like cardboard. Although the exact underlying cause of pica is often unknown, it can be associated with dietary deficiencies, medical conditions, or mental health issues like anxiety. For instance, anemia or nutritional deficiencies can trigger abnormal eating habits in cats, while obsessive-compulsive disorders can manifest as excessive chewing or consumption of non-food items. 

Related: Are There Any Health Risks Associated With Cats Eating Paper?

How Can I Prevent My Cat From Eating Cardboard?

Provide a Balanced Diet: Make sure your cat is getting all the necessary nutrients from their diet. Consult with a vet to ensure you’re feeding your cat properly.

Offer Alternatives: Provide your cat with appropriate chewing toys to satisfy their need to chew, which can help divert their attention from cardboard.

Enrich Their Environment: Provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Use toys, scratching posts, and interactive games to keep your cat entertained.

Keep Cardboard Out of Reach: Try to keep cardboard items inaccessible to your cat, especially when they are alone.

Regular Check-Ups: Regular visits to the vet can help spot any underlying health issues or nutritional deficiencies that might be causing this behavior.

Training: Use positive reinforcement to train your cat to avoid chewing on cardboard. Reward them for playing with their toys and ignoring cardboard.

Provide Attention: Spend as much quality time as possible with your cat. Loneliness can lead to stress and boredom, which may result in destructive behaviors like chewing on cardboard. 

Remember, each cat is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. It’s crucial to be patient and consistent in your approach.


In conclusion, while cats may seem to enjoy chewing on cardboard and it can provide some mental stimulation and roughage in their diet, there are potential risks that need to be considered. The dangers of ingesting cardboard include choking, gastrointestinal blockages or obstructions, and ingestion of chemicals found in treated cardboard. It is important for cat owners to closely monitor their feline companions’ behavior and environment to prevent any potential harm from eating cardboard. Additionally, providing appropriate alternatives such as chew toys or interactive playtime can help satisfy a cat’s natural urge to bite and chew without the associated dangers. As loving pet owners, it is our responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of our furry friends.