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Ask A Vet: Why Does My Cat Shred Toilet Paper?

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Many cat owners have come home to find the toilet paper roll shredded to pieces, scattered like snow all over the bathroom. There are many reasons that this might occur. Think about it. Toilet paper is always there (or at least usually) and it hangs invitingly just above your cat’s eye level. It draws attention because it floats gently on any breeze created by the air vent or your cat as she passes by. It practically beckons to her.

Image Source: Justin Baeder via Flickr
Image Source: Justin Baeder via Flickr

Perhaps the toilet paper brings out a bedding instinct in your cat. All animals have to consider their shelter and bedding needs, even if they do so at an unconscious level. Toilet paper is soft and snuggly. It shreds easily and is readily available every time your cat wanders by. It might trigger her instinct to make bedding, but then she gets bored of it and leaves the mess for you…

Maybe there is something about the look and feel of the paper that triggers predatory instincts in your cat because if your cat can get the roll down he will certainly try to kill it, rolling around on the floor kicking it frantically to pieces with both hind feet. It is spongy and soft to bite too, although it does makes one’s mouth feel a little dry…

Your cat may have even watched you hang the paper. She certainly smells that you have touched it. She probably even watches you unroll it for your own use.  See, there..my human is playing with that. Maybe I should too.

But really why does anyone do anything? If the action does not meet your physical needs by serving as a resource for you, what’s left? Well, because it is FUN, of course! The toilet paper is an interesting texture that is easy to shred with claws. It dangles there tantalizing your cat, daring her to attack and when she does, if you see it, you will laugh and squeal. You might even try to chase her away from the roll, which is even more fun and if she can get it all the way down, it will roll around on the floor for her to chase too. Too bad humans are not so easily entertained (and don’t have people to clean up after everything too!)

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Written by Dr. Kathryn Primm
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