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The Curious Reasons Why Cats Love Paper
CatsBehavior

The Curious Reasons Why Cats Love Paper

Critter Culture Staff
Updated May 27, 2022

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Animal behavior is fascinating, especially when household cats do a lot that's inexplicable. There are plenty of theories about why they're drawn to sit on lone pieces of paper, for example. And they're not alone. Big cats in zoos can often be seen sitting in or playing with boxes. So, what gives, and how can you get your fluffy master to stop hogging your newspaper?

1

Because it's cozy

Black Cat Sitting In Newspaper Brooke Anderson Photography / Getty Images

Cats enjoy being warm, so you'll often see them seeking a sunbathing spot. Paper is a good insulator and retains a cat's body heat. If there's a newspaper or A4 sheet on a cold tiled floor, best believe your cat will lie down on the warmer patch of real estate.

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2

Because it's the right kind of noisy

A kitten throws a balled up piece of paper into the air Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

Cats love paper that crinkles and makes engaging sounds. Ball up a piece of printer paper, and your cat's ears will be on high alert. Why? Your cat hears something strangely familiar — the sound of potential prey meandering through crisp leaves. A stray piece of paper can keep your feline friend busy for quite a while as it explores its evolutionary desire for the hunt and eventually sits on the sheet for good measure.

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3

Because it's curious

playful white cat lying in balls of paper SilviaJansen / Getty Images

If there's one thing cats are known for, it's their curiosity. So, if your cat sees something on the ground that breaks the monotony of the surface, there's a good chance it will want to explore. It uses its senses and makes itself right at home if it deems the object in question safe.

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4

Because it's territorial

cat inside a paper bag Alexmia / Getty Images

Sometimes your cat will choose to sit on paper over your lounge's snuggly carpet. This puzzling behavior might be a way for it to claim its own space. If you have two cats, the first one to encounter the paper will want to leave its scent behind. Don't dispose of the paper until Cat Number One loses interest, or you may invite its wrath.

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5

Because of instinct

Cat sitting in a small cardboard box and looking towards camera Dennis Gross / Getty Images

Here's the kicker. It's not just a sheet of paper or a three-dimensional box that cats are attracted to — even adhesive tape in the shape of a 2D rectangle is alluring, as the Twitter hashtag #catsquare and the 'If I fits, I sit' experiment will attest. The odds that your cat will stroll over and plop smack dab in the middle of this delineated area are high, and it may have something to do with a cat's natural inclination towards tight spaces. Cats find side pressure comforting, and this could be linked to the time when newborn kittens maintained close contact with their mom and fellow fur babies. No matter how illusory, squares represent safety and are the next best thing to domestic enclosures, nests, and dens in the wild.

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6

Because it's a launchpad

Cat shredding paper invoice Petra Richli / Getty Images

If you look at a piece of paper or box and think 'boring,' you need to work on your imagination. Cats see these items and get creative. Paper is for shredding, and boxes are for hide and seek. Your cat considers a box the perfect place to indulge its predatory side and launch an unsuspecting ambush. Pawing at paper is also a way to show you its capabilities.

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7

Because it wants affection

Close up of domestic cat lying on back next to newspaper Maria Mayer / 500px / Getty Images

You've got a freshly brewed cup of tea in hand, and you're all set to get your daily dose of the news. You're about to flip to your favorite section when Queenie saunters over and takes up residence on your newspaper. Queenie wants you, a loyal subject, to shower her with attention or cuddles depending on her mood.

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8

Because it smells like you

Cat lying on the newspaper Chalongrat Chuvaree / Getty Images

Aww. Your newspaper, or that stack of notes you've painfully labored over, has your scent on it. You might not be equipped to notice it, but your cat's superior sense of smell sure does. Kitty doesn't mind sitting on something that reeks of its harmless buddy and provider, and if it's feeling stressed, your familiar odor can be reassuring.

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9

How to respond

kitten playing with toy Juhku / Getty Images

Keep a beady eye on the situation to prevent chewing and any paper swallowing incidents. It's also worth noting that certain inks are toxic.

Carve out a niche for your cat on or under your desk so they can sit and watch you without being in your face and covering the documents you require. Provide toys that sound like crinkling paper, and spritz a lavender or other off-putting solution on no-go zones.0

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10

Guard your precious belongings

Couple unpacking moving boxes and placing books on the shelf doble-d / Getty Images

Don't keep books on the floor because your cat might urinate on them in a bid to stake its claim. And keep valued items in hard-to-reach places. Try using plastic wrap on less important objects and see if the scratching stops. You may yet be able to save your property from death and destruction.

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