Is Cardboard Safe for Cats? (Solved & Explained!)

It may seem odd to ask but if you’re a cat owner, or spent 5 minutes near a cat, you could understand why you might need to know if cardboard is safe for your cat. So, the question still begs, is it safe for your cat to have cardboard?

The first thing you’ll need to do is assess whether your cat is eating the cardboard or if they’re strictly chewing it. This will be the determining factor on whether it’s safe or not. Chewing cardboard has quite a few health benefits for your cat but eating cardboard can cause complications for your cat and should be stopped.

There is quite a difference between a cat chewing vs. eating cardboard. As a pet owner, it is your responsibility that your cat is in a safe environment, with plenty of enrichment. With so much misinformation out there, I hope you find comfort in this accurate detail of information.

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gray and white cat in cardboard tattered box

Benefits of Cats Chewing Cardboard

There are many positive health impacts for cats that chew on cardboard. These benefits can range from your cat’s physical to mental health. Studies have proven that enrichment and more can be achieved with something as simple as a cardboard box for your cat. Check out just a few of the benefits below:

  • Research. If you have a kitten or young cat that’s chewing, it’s most likely just developmentally appropriate behavior. Just like human babies, kittens use their mouths to investigate the world around them.
  • Claiming Territory. If the cat is chewing and rubbing on the cardboard, they’re attempting to leave their scent over the item. This allows them to mark their territory, which helps fulfill an instinct.
  • Easing Sore Gums. Kittens may be going through oral soreness due to their new teeth coming through. Chewing on cardboard relieves pain and discomfort.
  • Playing. Playing is great to create mental stimulation and keep your cat engaged. This can also encourage exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

grey and black cats playing in and with cardboard box

As always, monitor your cat to make sure they are not ingesting the cardboard. In a controlled environment, cardboard can be very beneficial for your cat’s health. 

Safe Cardboard Options for a Cat

There are many cardboard options specifically on the market for cats. You can get anything from cardboard castles for your feline friends to cardboard pet carriers. These are great options because they can be customized to fit your and your cats’ exact needs.

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If the cardboard option you’ve chosen is thick and sturdy, with non-toxic paints and glues, and not printed on, it should be safe for your cat. Monitoring if they swallow it, is still very important though. If they are eating it, all cardboard should be removed from their reach.

cat with collar in new cardboard box

If you’re looking to save some money, check out this DIY cardboard cat castle:

Dangers of Cats Eating Cardboard

While non-toxic, ingesting cardboard could cause health complications in your cat. If your cat has eaten a large amount of cardboard, it could lead to intestinal blockage. This complication is when there’s an obstruction that can’t pass through the bowels. Some signs to watch for in your cat are:

  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Not eating or drinking
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Noticeable Discomfort

orange tabby cat looking out behind cardboard

If you notice your cat regularly eating cardboard, there could be an underlying reason for that. A common reason a cat consistently eats non-food items is due to a condition called Pica. 

How to Stop a Cat from Eating Cardboard

If you notice your cat is eating cardboard, there are actions you can take to prevent any medical issues they may gain from ingesting it. Just like with all our pets, cats may need to be trained and redirected to keep them safe.

The best option you can choose to prevent them from eating cardboard is by simply removing any cardboard in the home. If this is not a viable option, you can take other precautions. A redirection is a great tool that you can use. Anytime the cat goes near the cardboard, simply distract and redirect it to something more interesting for them.

Another great option to keep your cat from eating cardboard is specialty sprays. These are lab-tested sprays that are completely safe for your cat. When sprayed on the cardboard, or unwanted chewing surface, it creates a long-lasting, bad taste that discourages the cat from chewing and/or eating it.

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How Cats Intestinal Blockage is Treated

If you suspect your cat may have an intestinal blockage you should consult your vet immediately. If a vet does diagnose an intestinal blockage, they will begin treatment as there are no home remedies to alleviate it.

The first step your vet will take is to properly diagnose your cat. This could include medical history, changes in behavior, blood & urine testing, x-rays, and/or an ultrasound. A vet will do this to create a complete physical examination, so they know the cat has been properly diagnosed.

If a blockage is present, the vet will hospitalize your cat and then begin administering fluids and pain medications. This is to try and get the blockage to exit on its own. If for some reason the blockage does not pass through the cat, surgery would be required to ensure its safety.

Once the surgery is complete, your cat will be discharged and given a prescription for medication. The medication could include pain medicine, anti-nausea medicine, and/or antibiotics. The cone-of-shame may be required to prevent them from opening their stitches or irritating the incision area. Allow your cat to rest once home.

Your vet will probably instruct you to switch your cat’s food to a therapeutic food that is gentle on the digestive system. A bland and easy-to-digest food is best for your cat’s digestive system while they heal.

Final Thoughts

We all want what’s best for our furry felines, so these questions are important to ask. Overall, cardboard is not harmful to your cats if it’s in a controlled environment.