Although there are a few things that we know cats enjoy eating, like fish, chicken, and even rice, sometimes they eat things that aren’t even food, like tape. Why do some cats eat tape? It’s a weird and sometimes worrying habit that many cat parents do not understand. As it turns out, there are a few different reasons that a cat might decide to eat tape.
The 7 Likely Reasons Your Cat Is Eating Tape
One reason your cat might try to eat tape is simply that they are bored. Perhaps they haven’t gotten any new toys lately, and the same old stuff is no longer interesting. Maybe they are no longer getting the mental stimulation that they need from the toys that they are used to playing with. Try to distract your cat from the tape with a toy to chase, a game of “keep away,” or a catnip-filled item.
2. Nutrient Deficiencies
Sometimes, a cat will eat things that are not normally edible because they are trying to get nutrients that their normal diet is lacking. This could happen if you change your kitty’s food to something new that lacks a vitamin or mineral that was readily available in the old food.
Their nutritional needs could also have changed due to age or a health-related issue, and their food does not support those needs any longer. Your veterinarian should be able to help you determine whether any nutritional deficiencies are present and how to correct the problem so your cat stops eating tape.
3. Underlying Health Problem
Unfortunately, underlying health conditions can lead a cat to do things like eat tape. For example, cats with diabetes might eat tape because they know that their bodies are out of whack and they’re trying desperately to make things right again. If your cat is eating tape while also displaying signs of illness or discomfort, it’s time to schedule a checkup with your veterinarian.
4. Early Weaning
Felines that are weaned from their mother’s milk too early are typically malnourished and end up trying to do things like suck on blankets and consume wool. They might try to eat tape too, even through their teenage years. If you obtain a kitten that shows signs of early weaning, talk to your veterinarian about supplements that will help ensure that they get the nutrients that they need as they grow and age.
Like humans, cats can develop anxiety for many different reasons. Perhaps a new baby or pet has been introduced to the household, everyone has moved to a new place, or another type of lifestyle element has changed. When feeling anxious, some cats will do strange things, like eat tape, to try to relieve that anxiety. Addressing the cause is the best way to avoid the risk that your cat will do things like eat tape.
Sometimes, a cat will eat tape simply out of curiosity. Tape can be interesting to cats due to its crinkly sounds and sticky texture. Some cats even like the taste of the adhesive. Curiosity can quickly turn into an obsession if your cat is allowed to continue playing with and eating tape. So, you might need to take the tape away from your curious kitty whenever they get their paws on a piece.
Pica is a condition that involves the compulsory eating of things that are not edible or nutritious in any way, such as tape. Pica is most often seen in Oriental cat breeds like Siamese and Burmese, but any domestic cat breed can suffer from the condition. Many cats with pica consume wool, but some cats with Pica also like to chew on and occasionally swallow materials like rubber, wood, plastic, leather, cardboard, and tape.
Ensuring that your cat has plenty of indoor stimulation can help keep them from eating inedible items. It is also important to make sure such things are kept out of reach and sight as much as possible. Sometimes, behavioral training and veterinarian intervention are necessary.
There are several different reasons that your cat might be chewing on or eating tape. The key is to figure out the cause of the behavior so the cause can be addressed. Focusing on the tape alone can result in other unwanted behaviors, especially when there is no tape for your feline family member to get their paws on.
Featured Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock