Why Do Cats Shred Toilet Paper? Destructive Feline Behavior Explained

Why Do Cats shred toilet paper

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Why do cats shred toilet paper? This sort of destructive behavior isn’t dangerous (unless the toilet paper is poisonous), and you can prevent it if you want. 


The cause might simply boil down to the feline’s instincts. It may be “hunting” and “killing” toilet paper as it sees it as prey or trying to make a nest.


On the other hand, perhaps the reason isn’t so deep. The cat may be just bored or slightly anxious and is looking for a way to either entertain or comfort itself. It could also be curious and just wants to see why you were playing with it too!

Why Do Cats Shred Toilet Paper? 



Pets, no matter how much we love them and try to provide everything they need, will get into trouble one way or another. It’s rare to find a dog or a cat that’s completely obedient and abides by any and all rules their owners have set. However, the level of trouble cats get into usually boils down to them following their instincts. So why do cats shred toilet paper? Well — it depends!


It would be the easiest thing to say that cats simply like the texture of toilet paper or love wreaking havoc wherever their paws take them. But the behavior can be traced back to their ancestors and the way cats act in the wild. On the other hand, the cause may be something entirely simple, like boredom.


Why Do Cats Shred Toilet Paper? Four Most Common Reasons


The question of Why do cats shred toilet paper? is definitely one that many cat owners ask themselves every single day. Just think about it; how many times have you found yourself amid a toilet paper war, with your cat leading the main rebellion? I bet the answer is A LOT.


But no matter how sinister this behavior seems, it really isn’t anything to worry about. It might be a case of boredom, instincts, nesting, or extreme playfulness!


The Cat Might Be Working on Its Hunting Skills


Your home might not be the most suitable hunting ground, but that won’t stop your feline from honing its hunting skills. In fact, since cats are predators, some of them may not stop until they make their “kill.” And unfortunately for the environment, toilet paper is the perfect prey!


First, it won’t be able to run away from the cat, and it’s as light as a feather. It’s pliable, it may even flutter in the breeze, and most importantly, it allows for hours of hunting and predatory behavior


Second, there’s more to toilet paper than meets the eye. The cat won’t have to stop once it has unraveled it completely. Oh, no — that’s just a sign the enemy has yielded. Once it unravels it, the feline will proceed to shred it in teeny-tiny pieces, which ought to make it rather euphoric!


But wait — there’s another piece of the puzzle. Since cats often like playing and even chewing and eating cardboard, the tube will be the cherry on top of a great sundae of a hunting session. In the end, toilet paper is the perfect toy for cats that want and need to feel like hunters. Because of that, they will continue destroying it unless you keep it away from them.


Perhaps the Toilet Paper Would Serve as Nice Bedding


Another reason your cat may be shredding the toilet paper is pure, old nesting. Since toilet paper has a rather soft texture (especially if you’re getting the expensive kind), your cat may see it as the most suitable bedding for its makeshift nest. Thus, when it gets its paws on one roll, it will shred and shred until it makes enough bedding for a rather cozy lair.


This sort of behavior is actually common in cats that may not feel too comfortable at home. If someone has been taking up their territory, they may be craving a safer area, i.e., their own haven. Alternatively, if your cat is expecting kittens, she may be trying to make a comfy environment for her litter. Pregnant women also do that toward the end of their pregnancy.


You Played With It — So It’s Fair Game for the Cat Too!


We don’t actually have to go back to the cat’s ancestors to answer the question of Why do cats shred toilet paper? No matter how much they act aloof, cats are rather in tune with both their environment and their owners. Therefore, if your cat is somewhere near you when you are getting a fresh roll, the toilet paper may catch its eye.


There isn’t much you can do about this; cats are simply curious and will want to play with things other people or animals have touched. So, you might rouse it accidentally. Even though you are doing something totally normal, to your cat, it might seem like you’re playing with toilet paper. And if you’re playing — the feline can play too!


The Cat May Just Be Bored or Slightly Anxious


Much like humans or dogs, cats may sometimes do things and destroy stuff out of pure boredom. If they aren’t stimulated enough mentally, and we, like their owners, are not providing them with enough playtime, they will just have to find another source of entertainment. Since toilet paper is readily available and most of us do forget to close the bathroom door behind us, it’s a good option for a lazy and rather boring Sunday afternoon.


Alternatively, if the cat is shredding toilet paper when its environment is a bit tense, it may be doing it because of anxiety. Toilet paper is soft, and it feels nice under the paws. That may be all the comfort the cat needs to relax a bit. 


However, to make sure this is the cause, you ought to pay attention to the timing. If the cat doesn’t seem to be doing it when there’s a lot of noise or anything similarly traumatic to felines, then it’s probably just boring. But if the shredding is followed by improper urination (for instance, on the couch) and happens when you leave for the day, the feline may be suffering from separation anxiety.


Can Anything Be Done About It?


Now that we know all the possible answers to Why do cats shred toilet paper? let’s see whether you should do anything about it. 


As you could probably tell, this behavior, although destructive, isn’t dangerous at all, neither for you nor the cat. However, if the toilet paper is scented or contains some chemicals, the feline may have an allergic reaction to it. If you catch your cat coughing, sneezing, and wheezing after shredding the paper, then it’s likely allergic to it. Other symptoms include hives, skin breakouts, teary eyes, itchy skin, and digestive issues (diarrhea and vomiting).


On the other hand, it’s easy for this kind of play to turn into a full-blown meal. And although toilet paper is one of the least concerning household items your cat could eat, it’s still better to discourage the behavior. Sure, it’s easy to digest and will dissolve fast in the digestive tract. But your feline may develop pica over time.


Discouraging the Cat From Shredding Toilet Paper


Here are just a couple of suggestions that should prevent your cat from playing with toilet paper:


  • Hide the rolls. As long as the cat doesn’t see them, it won’t want to shred them. Some cats, however, may go on a quest to find some toilet paper, so keep the toilet/bathroom doors closed at all times.
  • Use deterrents to make the toilet paper unappealing. Cats don’t like citruses so much, so you can spray a citrus scent onto the rolls (or get some that smell like lemons or oranges). A bitter apple scent would work too. 
  • Hide or turn the tissue boxes upside down. Snatching tissues are super fun for cats, so any tissue box is likely a huge temptation. You can prevent the cat from getting to it by hiding it or turning it upside down. That way, it won’t be able to put its paw inside, unless it turns it over, of course.
  • Introduce more playtime and extra toys and games. It’s likely that the cat is merely bored, so you should find a way to entertain it more. Keep the feline engaged for at least 20 minutes every day. When you cannot play with it, give it access to various toys, a scratch post, balls, etc. If you want, you can also put some catnip in the toys — that’ll surely make the cat’s day a whole lot better!


Final Thoughts 


So, why do cats shred toilet paper? Well, they might just be curious, bored, or are suffering from some form of separation anxiety. Alternatively, their instincts could be at play, and they see toilet paper as their prey! Whatever the cause may be, it’s nothing to worry about. Out of all the things cats can destroy, toilet paper is the least unsettling one!

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