A sheet of A4 paper seems to have a hypnotic impact on felines. Whenever a sheet of paper, magazine, newspaper or paper bag is available, a cat will want to curl up and rest on it. This appears to make no sense, especially if your cat prefers to sleep on paper rather than a deep pile carpet.
Paper is an excellent conductor, providing insulation and warmth for felines. In addition, cats are drawn to a uniquely marked area. Paper also makes a satisfying crinkling sound, which cats find irresistible. Don’t overlook the fact that they may be seeking your attention.
We will explain the fascination that felines have with paper. If your cat always sits on paper, there’s no need to be concerned. It’s a harmless behavior, and a very common one.
Why Do Cats Like to Lay Down on Paper?
There are several reasons why cats like laying on paper so much. These include:
1) Paper Keeps Cats Warm
Have you ever seen someone sleeping on the street? If so, you may have noticed that they were lying on sheets of newspaper. This is because paper is a natural conductor, and reflects body heat. Physics Classroom explains the science behind this in great detail.
If the paper is already warm, your cat will find it even more enticing. If you remove the paper from a printer, your pet will quickly make itself comfortable.
If the floor of your home has cool or hard surfaces, the paper will be irresistible. Tiling, linoleum, and wood will all be slightly cool to the touch. If a household bill or other piece of paper flutters to the ground, your cat will react.
While seated on paper, a cat will maintain a comfortable temperature. They won’t overheat, but neither will they need to find an alternative source of warmth. If your home is draughty, consider laying a newspaper on the ground in the winter months.
2) Paper Provides Cats with Territory
If you leave your worn clothing on the floor, your cat will immediately sit upon it. The same applies to paper. The reasons are similar – though paper will not carry your scent quite so strongly.
Your cat will notice that the paper creates a different, unique surface area. The floor of your home is one thing, but a smaller, sub-area? That’s something that your cat can claim as their territory.
To this end, they may refuse to leave the sheet of paper for some time. As far as your cat is concerned, they have found new territory, and it must be guarded.
It doesn’t hurt that paper is extremely simple for your pet to transfer their scent too. One rub of their paws or face is enough to claim ownership.
You paying attention to paper will also make it appealing to your cat. If you’re poring over the mail, or reading a book or magazine, your pet will notice.
What’s important to you will automatically become important to them. The moment you turn your back on these papers, they belong to your cat.
You can try a little experiment along these lines. Read a book for a while, so your scent is unmistakably on the cover and pages. Lay this on the ground, or your bed, surrounded by other books. You’ll notice that your cat is only interested in the one that you were holding.
3) Paper Makes an Appealing Noise
Cats have extremely sensitive hearing. This means that any noise we can hear is magnified drastically for our feline friends.
When the paper is screwed up, it makes an unmistakable sound to your cat. That’s enough to get their attention. Also, crinkling paper sounds like prey scuttling through the grass to your cat.
Have you ever noticed your pet batting balled-up paper around with their paws? This sound is why. Screwed up paper can be an easy, cost-effective way to indulge your cat’s hunting instincts.
4) Your Cat Wants You to Pay Attention to Them
Your cat may just be fed up with you paying attention to everything but them. It certainly makes sense. If your cat climbs onto paper, you likely pick them up and move them.
Even if you don’t physically interact, you’ll likely shoo them. Your cat will have noticed this, and will do whatever it takes to get some interaction. Any attention is good attention to a neglected cat.
Additionally, a cat resting on paper means that you can no longer use that paper. It’s failsafe logic from your pet. If you want time to read or check papers, get your cat into a playtime routine. A cat that knows their needs will be met is unlikely to bother you.
My Cat Eats Paper (Pica)
A cat that eats paper may have pica. This is a medical condition that sees felines driven to eat non-food items. In the case of paper, this could quickly become dangerous.
Observe your cat’s behavior. If they are not attempting to eat anything else untoward, there could be another explanation. The most obvious of these is sheer curiosity, especially if your cat is young.
Kittens explore the world with their mouths, wondering what happens if they bite and chew something. When your cat experiences no immediate ill effects, they may continue. This is especially likely if your cat finds that they enjoy the texture of the paper.
A small nibble on the corner of the paper is unlikely to harm your cat. It isn’t something that you should encourage, but there’s no need to call the vet. The paper will turn to mush, and pass through your pet’s digestive tract.
Larger amounts of paper, however, are impossible for a cat to digest. As a result, they may experience an intestinal blockage. This is a serious concern, and can become fatal.
An intestinal blockage does what the name suggests – prevents food from passing through the bowel appropriately. This means that waste cannot be eliminated, and your pet will become sick.
The symptoms of bowel or intestinal blockages to look out for include:
- Pain and swelling in the abdomen
- If the vomit is brown in shade and smells like fecal matter, the situation is critical
- Low body temperature
- Refusal to eat, and accompanying weight loss
- Lethargy and depression
If you suspect that your pet has an intestinal obstruction, your vet will run various tests, including x-rays and ultrasounds. If they can pinpoint a blockage, it will need to be removed.
If the paper is small enough to pass naturally, your vet will prescribe laxatives. In most cases of eating paper, however, surgical intervention will be required.
My Cat Loves to Tear Paper Apart
Another common cat behavior that surrounds paper is destruction. Felines love little more than tearing a piece of paper to shreds. A particularly strong and stubborn cat may even manage to destroy a paperback book.
This is a natural part of feline behavior. However, you should keep one eye on your cat’s general demeanor. The urge to destroy is usually a result of boredom. Sure, it’s better if your cat takes out these urges on paper than starts clawing your furniture.
They are frustrated though, and boredom can quickly turn to stress and anxiety. Getting your cat into a regular playtime schedule will aid with this. You can tear paper together as a game.
Of course, your cat may just be embracing their instinct. Crinkled paper can sound like prey to cats. With this in mind, your pet may be looking to replicate the hunt of wild prey. Much like they’d tear a mouse apart, your cat is disseminating this sheet of paper.
My Cat Keeps Unraveling Toilet Paper
Another thing that your cat finds irresistible is toilet paper. Many pet owners have returned home to find their home resembling a fraternity house. They couldn’t resist the urge to claw toilet paper.
The main reason that toilet paper is tempting to cats is its lightness. Even the slightest breeze makes toilet paper flutter. This movement will be captured by your pet’s peripheral vision, and the hunt is on. Your cat will stop at nothing until they have unraveled an entire roll.
Ah, the roll – another reason why cats love toilet paper. Toilet roll tubing is a cost-effective, makeshift toy that keeps cats amused for hours. It’s quite possible that your pet will grow impatient, though. They may unravel the toilet paper to get that tube sooner rather than later.
My Cat is Obsessed with Cardboard
If most cats enjoy playing with paper, that’s nothing compared to their relationship with cardboard. For many felines, cardboard is second only to catnip in the pleasure stakes.
The explanation for this is that cats enjoy enclosed spaces. Your cat will rarely be happier than when they’re tucked securely inside a cardboard box.
This is an instinctive behavior, as it makes your cat feel safe from predators. Even a content and secured domesticated housecat need that security on occasion. Just laying on a sheet of cardboard – or paper – goes some way to replicating this experience.
Much like paper, however, you should be cautious if your cat starts chewing on the card. Felines are not natural chewers, and will not engage in the habit recreation. In a base case scenario, your pet is just experimenting with the texture.
You may find that your cat is in some dental pain, however. Teething kittens chew to ease their discomfort, and adult cats sometimes repeat the action from memory. Check your cat’s teeth if you notice them chewing card, seeing a vet if necessary.
A cat that’s determined to relax on your daily newspaper can be annoying, but it’s understandable behavior. Your pet gets to stay warm, mark territory, and gain your attention at the same time.