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Why Does My Cat Eat Tape? 6 Common Reasons & What To Do

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house…there’s a disturbing crunching noise coming from underneath the tree where you find your feline crunching on the tape from the wrapped presents. You’re probably puzzled since you feed your cat choice food, buy them boutique treats, and give them clever catnip toys. So why would they choose to eat tape? There are many possible reasons why your cat can’t get enough of tape, ranging from boredom to more serious concerns such as underlying medical conditions. We’ll look at six common reasons why cats eat tape and give you a few tips on how to break their habit.

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The 6 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Stuck on Tape

1. Pica

When cats (or humans) routinely eat things that aren’t food, this is a behavioral disorder called pica. Your cat may have pica if they also like to indulge in other inedible objects besides tape. Other common objects include paper, plastic, string, and wool. It’s important to note that pica implies that the material is being eaten, not just chewed on. It’s fairly common for cats to chew on all of the objects we mentioned, but it’s rare (and a problem) if it’s being ingested. Most of the other possible reasons your cat is eating tape are also possible underlying causes of pica.

hand sticked to a roll of double-sided tape
Image Credit: Ekaterina43, Shutterstock
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2. Boredom

If there’s nothing wrong with your cat—except you notice they like to lounge around eating tape—they might be bored. Try to interest them in a stimulating toy like something to chase. Double points if it’s filled with catnip.

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3. Hunger or Nutritional Deficiencies

Have you noticed any changes in your cat’s eating behaviors with their own food? If you’ve recently switched their formula, maybe they’re lacking in a vitamin or mineral that they previously had in abundance. Always talk to your veterinarian if you don’t feel like your cat is thriving on their current food. They can give you some pointers on what to look for to meet your individual cat’s needs. If your cat isn’t eating their food, they might be sick, so it would be worth taking a trip to the vet to make sure they’re okay.

cat being fed a cat treat or cat food by hand
Image Credit: Jakub Zak, Shutterstock
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4. Anxiety

If your household is undergoing a lot of change, such as a new baby or pet, your cat might seek out tape as a coping mechanism. If your cat is a rescue, do you know if they have a history of hunger? Your cat could be suffering from trauma and is worried about when their next meal is coming, especially if there are other changes happening at the same time.

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5. Weaned Too Early

Cats who were weaned too early are often malnourished and may develop behavioral issues such as sucking on blankets. These behaviors are often outgrown by 2 years old, but they may also evolve into other odd behaviors such as pica.

cyprus kitten
Image Credit: gka photo, Shutterstock
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6. Underlying Illness

Eating strange objects such as tape could be a sign of an underlying illness such as diabetes. If none of the other options make sense, or if you notice any other unusual symptoms, you should make an appointment with your vet to make sure everything is normal health-wise.

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What Happens If My Cat Eats Tape?

It’s important to note whether your kitty is merely chewing on tape or is actually ingesting it. While neither one is preferred, chomping on tape probably won’t hurt them as long as the glue is non-toxic, but eating tape can be fatal. Most times ingested tape will pass one way or another, but as with any foreign object, there’s always the risk of it tangling internally, which can lead to serious blockages. If you believe your cat has ingested tape, you should call your veterinarian.

cat laying on ground playing
Image Credit: Ingus Kruklitis, Shutterstock

How to Prevent Your Cat from Eating Tape

The best way to keep your kitty from eating tape is to restrict their access to packing materials. Store the tape somewhere they can’t reach, such as in a closet or drawer with a child-lock. Try to keep Amazon packages away from your cat, but if a box must linger within their grasp, remove the tape and throw it away. Don’t underestimate your cat’s abilities to retrieve something they want. If they want to play with tape badly enough, they’ll climb any surface and knock over anything in their way.

Once you’ve removed the tape from their reach, you should try to get their mind on something else. A fun, interactive toy to engage their minds might be a good idea, especially if it’s crinkly on the inside like tape. The solution however depends on the underlying cause. Your kitty might also need new food or a visit to the vet.

If anxiety is the underlying cause, try to find the root of it. Delivering meals consistently at the same time can help if they have anxiety about food. If they’re anxious because of change, reassure them of your love by spending more time petting and playing with them.

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While eating tape isn’t normal, some cats do try it. Munching on it without ingesting it probably isn’t a great idea, but it’s not devastating as long as the glue is non-toxic. However, you should never let your cat ingest tape since it can block their intestines. Talk to your vet if you notice other unusual behaviors or if you suspect they’ve ingested tape to see what they suggest.

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Featured Image Credit: k-e-k-u-l-é, Pixabay