Why do cats like playing with toilet paper?

Serval shreds toilet paper
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Serval shreds toilet paper. BCR video screenshot

A major reason why cats like playing with toilet paper is because the bleaching chemicals excite them like catnip….

Both domestic and wild cats like playing with toilet paper. People speculate why cats find it so attractive. They are attracted to it in a way which indicates to me that it is more than simply a nice object to play with. Sometimes they rub their cheeks against the paper in scent exchange. They shred the paper in an excitable manner. Toilet paper is a nice substance to play with because it’s soft and it can be shredded and therefore we should expect cats to like playing with it but their behavior indicates to me that there is something else happening as well and it has to do with the cat’s sense of smell.

When you see a cat, either a wild or domestic cat, playing with toilet paper they behave in a way which is similar to when they are under the influence of catnip. Therefore, I would suggest that the chemicals in toilet paper are exerting a similar effect to catnip.

It seems that cats are quite attracted to chlorine (a bleaching product). White toilet paper is bleached with chlorine as I understand it. There are in fact many chemicals in toilet paper some of which are said to be carcinogenic. I don’t think that we can trust the manufacturers to ensure that toilet paper is completely healthy to either human or cat by the way. But the overriding chemical constituent in toilet paper which is attractive to cats and which make them shred it is probably chlorine or other bleaching chemicals. And there appears to be a chemical within chlorine which exerts a similar effect to catnip and valerian.

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I’m convinced, in conclusion, that the attractiveness of toilet paper to cats is about the chemical constituents of toilet paper more than its physical structure. The two certainly combine but the most important attractant are the bleaching chemicals.

What do you think?

P.S. There is an associated interesting element of cat behaviour. Cats like to drink what I would call dirty water meaning water in puddles outside rather than tapwater. This appears to be because tapwater is chlorinated. So domestic cats don’t like to drink chlorine but there’s something in it which makes them excited when they smell it.

P.P.S. If we are able to buy toilet paper which is not white and therefore not chlorinated it would be nice to run a test with domestic cats to see whether in interests them. On my theory it shouldn’t unless there is some other chemical in it which excites them.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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