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If you have a cat, you probably know they like to get into everything. And while a kitty who enjoys investigating boxes or bags can be annoying, if they're actually eating cardboard, paper or plastic, this can be a bigger problem. That's why we turned to Dr. Vernard Hodges and Dr. Terrence Ferguson, veterinarians and stars of the Nat Geo Wild show "Critter Fixers: Country Vets," to help out a viewer who sent in the below question via Facebook.
Q: "Our cat Parker gets into anything and everything, especially cardboard and paper. She loves to play with packages, grocery bags, and stuff I'm trying to print. Normally she just shreds it but sometimes she swallows it and begins to gag. Is this normal, and is there anything I can do? Or will she grow out of it?"
— Soraya, via Facebook
A: "We definitely don't want [cats] eating copy or printer paper," Dr. Terrence says. "And what we're concerned about as veterinarians is blockages. They can get blockages and we essentially have to either go in with an endoscope or we have to do surgery. So that's definitely a no-no."
You want to find things that you can use to help occupy your cat's time and energy so they aren't turning to this kind of behavior due to boredom, the vet explains.
"They're natural predators," Dr. Vernard points out, so you want to use toys that will engage their predatory instincts and give them both the mental stimulation and exercise they require. "If you can get 5 to 10 minutes of stimulation [a few times a day], you can keep all those things that we veterinarians have to remove out of a cat's stomach, so that'll help us out, too."
STIMULATING CAT TOYS TO OCCUPY YOUR CAT
Certain types of cat toys are aimed at doing just that. The vets suggested two different kinds of toys: a feather wand teaser toy and a laser cat toy.
"Rachael Ray" Show Editor Picks:
Pet Fit For Life 2 Feather Wand Cat Toy
2-pc Retractable Cat Wand Toy
SmartyKat Loco Laser Cat Toy
Friends Forever Interactive Laser Cat Toy
By playing with your cat using these toys, you can satisfy their hunting instinct, which is likely why they're chewing on paper and cardboard in the first place.
Prices listed are subject to change by the retailer.