Why is my cat eating the tissues?
October 24, 2014 10:12 AM   Subscribe

My cat eats tissues. She will sit at the tissue box and pull them out and eat them...

... As evidenced in this video.

Yes, you are not my Vet-- but I need to know if: 1. Is this going to hurt her? and 2. Why is she doing this? Is she craving something in her diet, or is she just neurotic?

Yes, I could not keep the tissue box on the floor under the coffee table, but if it isn't going to hurt her, I have no problem with her eating them if she wants them.
posted by goml to Pets & Animals (14 answers total)
Cats are weird... If you remove the tissues so it can't get at them, what does the cat do?
posted by HuronBob at 10:22 AM on October 24, 2014

Eventually she could papier mache a bowel obstruction. They're really not meant to be eaten.

My dogs love to eat tissues too, I don't know what the compulsion is but we have to keep the boxes out of reach.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:22 AM on October 24, 2014 [12 favorites]

Every cat that I have seen eat tissues seems to be eating them because they get excited by the fact that when you pull one out, another one pops up out of the box. Cats are loopy goofballs, and the reason for most of the things they do is that they are cats.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:22 AM on October 24, 2014 [12 favorites]

In winter when there is no grass around my dog will eat pretty much anything when he want's to throw up. My hair out the bin, toilet paper, tissues, random bits of paper. Your cat might want the fibre for some other reason but it wouldn't hurt to offer your cat a tray/saucer of sprouted grass if they don't have access to it.

I would be wary as tissue paper could possibly wad up in the intestines & cause problems.
posted by wwax at 10:27 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It's pica and it's pretty common. The solution is easy for you, so I'd go with that.
posted by desjardins at 10:29 AM on October 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have had several dogs that enjoyed devouring tissues. I think the fun of yanking them out one after the other is a big part of it. I haven't known cats that do this, but I have had cats that really enjoyed eating (as in actually consuming, not just tearing up) cardboard.

I would vote for this being within the range of normal behavior for cats (keeping in mind that yes, cats are weird), but nothing good can come from your cat eating tissues, so I would work on keeping them out of reach.
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:34 AM on October 24, 2014

I had a cat who did this. In fact, whenever he could find a way, he would pull the tissues out of the box, drag them to a sink, wait until they were soaked and disgusting from any water available, and *then* eat them. Later, he would barf them all back up.

I took to hiding every piece of paper I could. Also wrapping metal coil around all electrical cords. And going wireless on everything available as soon as the tech for each item was invented. He was an unbiased chewer of plastic and paper goods.

He never outgrew this behavior. I did my best to keep him from whatever I could, but cats Find Ways. He also lived to be 17, and this habit had nothing to do with his passing.
posted by instead of three wishes at 10:48 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Definitely try feeding her some green stuff, particularly grass (sometimes they have this at pet stores; if you need to get some from outside, make _sure_ it doesn't have weed-killer or insecticide on it). When cats get to craving grass, they sometimes eat other things since they don't actually know what they're craving.
posted by amtho at 10:55 AM on October 24, 2014

My cat also eats tissues, but it's worse - he eats USED tissues. Ugh.

I doubt your cat is sick or in need of some nutrient. Probably just neurotic. Hide your tissues.
posted by Cygnet at 10:57 AM on October 24, 2014

Response by poster: Threadsitting: She has no interest in pulling all of the tissues out, she just eats some of the top one sticking out and then walks away.

I do try to keep them out of reach or tuck the top tissue into the box so she can't pull on it- and she does not try to dig into the box to get it. It's only when it's sticking out does she eat them and it is infrequent that she does this odd thing.

She also has a hyper-sensitive licking compulsion when she is petted. I'm going to go with I adopted a used cat who is a freaky little neurotic and will do better to keep the tissues out of her reach from now on.

She does crave and eat grass, but I bought her some $7 cat grass and she turned her nose up at it.... snob.
posted by goml at 11:02 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can try just turning the box upside down, she might not bother trying to knock it over to get at the tissues then.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:16 AM on October 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Does she do it only when you're watching, or at other times as well? Our older cat loves to sit on paper (printer paper, newspaper, receipts, anything) and shred the edges of it, but I eventually realized she only did it when I was in the room, probably because I'd go fuss over her and get her to stop, so she'd get attention.
posted by telophase at 11:32 AM on October 24, 2014

My dog prefers used tissues (disgusting and of course I do everything in my power to not give him access), but he will also knock a toilet roll off the holder and eat the whole thing if the mood strikes. It must just be a tasty treat to the animal world. Ugh.
posted by cecic at 12:00 PM on October 24, 2014

I've had a cat who chewed on photographs. The current cat chews on plastic bags and the edges of the shower curtain. Both cats also had significant dental problems, so much so that even with regular cleanings, both had to have significant numbers of teeth pulled at some point. So you might have your cat's teeth checked with the vet regularly.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 1:22 PM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

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