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C2006-22

Dear Christopher Cat

My 1-year-old Siamese unravels, rips and eats toilet paper, facial tissues and paper towels. I play with him throughout the day, and my other cat provides plenty of stimulation. Will my Siamese outgrow his paper fetish?

Christopher Responds

The Siamese and Burmese breeds are the cats that most commonly eat paper, cardboard, wool and cotton, so your Siamese’s problem may be genetic.

In other cats, paper eating is a compulsive behavior, similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder in humans.

Either way, it’s unlikely your cat will outgrow this behavior.

The cats in my family, all mixed breeds, ignore paper, so I don’t have personal experience with your problem.

But as regular readers know, I am an unusually well educated cat, so I have some advice.

If you are present when your cat attacks the paper products in your home, interrupt the behavior. For example, toss a ball for him to chase. But don't punish him.

Feed a dry, high-fiber diet, with raw vegetables, to satisfy your cat’s need for roughage.

Encourage him to “hunt” for his meals by hiding small portions of food around the house.

Put food into a feeder or toy that requires manipulation to release the food.

If these techniques don’t work, make an appointment with a veterinarian who specializes in behavior problems. He or she can prescribe medication to help control paper eating.

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