Why Cats Like To Sit on Paper? Top 7 Reasons

Avatar photo
Fact checked by  Ma'ayan Gutbezahl
Share Email Pinterest Linkedin Twitter Facebook

Cats are no doubt creatures of comfort. They love soft, fluffy beds and blankets and can often be seen nestled into a cozy spot. However, they also like resting on more unusual objects such as a piece of paper, book, or magazine. In fact, cats seem to like to sit on paper whenever they get the chance!

Cats love to hide, play and sleep in cardboard boxes and paper bags. As pet parents, we typically find this quirky behavior endearing, if a bit odd. So, why do cats like to sit on paper, anyway? We’ll discuss all of the possible reasons now.

Why Do Cats Like To Sit on Paper?

Although cats love traditional comfy blankets and beds, they seem to really like paper. You may see them randomly sitting on a piece of paper or they may come onto your lap and sit on a book or magazine that you’re reading.

It’s not just paper that they like; they also love cardboard. I’m sure many owners have similar experiences to my own. I buy my cat a lovely bed and instead of loving the new bed I’ve bought, they love the cardboard box it came in. Cats find endless entertainment and comfort in something as simple as a cardboard box.

It’s a similar situation with paper bags. I’ve often come home and put down a shopping bag only to find my cat has made themself a little home in it later on. It goes without saying, that if cats can find something to investigate and fit into, they will!

But why is this, why would cats pick paper or cardboard to sit on instead of a warm, cozy bed? There are a few reasons for this.

1. Warmth

Paper and cardboard are insulating materials and will hold a lot more heat compared to concrete, steel, and other hard surfaces. Cats, having originated from desert wildcats, love heat, and warmth. If something insulates heat and stays warm, it’s likely that you’ll find your cat sitting on it.

This could be why we may see our cats sitting on paper and cardboard. They may simply find it a warm surface to sit on. Many outdoor cats may seek out cardboard boxes to sleep in to give them some warmth and shelter against cold weather. Cats find temperatures below 45 F too cold and they will seek warmth if the temperature is lower than this.

2. Curiosity

Cats are very curious creatures and will investigate anything that’s new in their home. This may be the case with a new book, magazine, sheets of paper, or a cardboard box. If you see your cat investigating and even sitting on a new object such as paper, it could be that they’re trying to figure out what it is.

3. Marking Their Territory

Cat On Paper Wants Attention

Cats rub up against new items in their homes to leave their scent and mark it as “safe.”

Cats communicate through scent marking, by rubbing pheromones onto objects. This is normal feline behavior. Pheromones are chemical messages that they leave for other cats, and to make themselves feel more secure in their home. They detect these pheromones by using their vomeronasal organ. Cats will regularly scent mark (with their scent glands) around their home to mark their territory, especially if they notice a new object in the home.

If you notice your cat rubbing their face off a new book, magazine, paper, or cardboard they are likely marking their scent on the object. They may also do this by kneading on the piece of paper, often referred to as ‘making biscuits’.

4. Scratching

Cats love to scratch and they need to do this as part of their normal cat behavior. They scratch on many different surfaces and this fulfils a few functions. Cats scratch to sharpen their nails but they also do this to deposit pheromones from their paw pads and mark their territory.

If there is a new piece of paper or cardboard left out, they may sit on this and scratch it to test out the material as a potential scratching material. They may also deposit their scent on it.

5. Playing

Cats can be extremely playful, especially kittens and younger cats. They are seen playing with the most random of objects and this includes pieces of paper. Don’t be surprised if you see your cat investigating a piece of paper and then proceed to roll around playing with it. Paper bags and cardboard boxes provide endless hours of fun for playful cats.

6. Trying To Get Attention

Cats sometimes sit on paper or a book if they’re trying to get closer to you and are seeking your attention. For example, when you’re sitting down reading a book and your cat jumps up and sits on the book.

They don’t necessarily mean to sit on the book, but in order to get closer to you they have to and the book is just in their way. So next time you notice your cat sitting on the paper of a book, magazine, or newspaper in your hands, your cat may be seeking your attention.

7. Seeking Hidden Spaces

cat in a paper bag

Cats love small spaces, and warm spaces, making paper bags and boxes enjoyable places to hang out.

Cats love cardboard boxes and paper bags. They may like the sound of the paper, playing with it or they simply like the hidden space that it provides. Cats like to feel secure and safe and hidden small spaces like these provide that.

In fact, I recommend providing cardboard boxes with blankets to use as hidden beds for cats. These can be positioned on the floor level but also higher up on shelves. This is because cats feel safer from a height.

Why Doesn’t My Cat Like Paper?

Even though many cats like paper for the reasons listed above, this isn’t the case with every cat. Some cats may not like the texture and feel of paper, cardboard, etc., and prefer softer textures such as a fleecy blanket.

Paper (especially paper bags) can make a noise if cats investigate them. Certain cats will be fearful or anxious about noises and do not like paper for this reason.

Paper and cardboard that has gotten wet gets soggy and cats will often find this uncomfortable and cold. If you use cardboard boxes as hidden beds for your cats, dispose of them if they become wet or soiled.

Is Paper Dangerous for My Cat?

While many cats like paper, plenty of others prefer other softer materials. Both behaviors are normal.

Many cats love paper whether it’s just a normal piece of paper, a paper bag, or a cardboard box. But is it harmful to cats? Most paper is harmless, but avoid any paper or cardboard that has any potentially harmful paint/dye/perfume or glue attached to it. Also remove any staples that are visible, particularly in a newspaper.

Some cats shred up paper and play with it. This is OK as long as they don’t eat the paper. If they eat paper or cardboard while shredding it, it could potentially cause an obstruction (blockage) in their gastrointestinal tract.

This would require veterinary treatment and may even require surgery. Kittens and young cats may eat paper out of curiosity, but it could also be a sign of pica in older cats. If your cat is regularly eating objects they shouldn’t eat, visit your veterinarian for advice and a clinical exam. Avoid leaving out paper if your cat is inclined to eat it.

Also Read: Why Do Cats Like Crinkly Things? 6 Reasons Why!

Cats and Paper: Final Thoughts

Many cats just love paper. Whether it’s a paper bag, a cardboard box, a sheet of paper, or a newspaper, plenty of cats have their reasons for enjoying paper. This can be for many reasons, including the fact that paper is a great insulator for heat, it can provide play opportunities, boxes provide perfect hiding areas, or your cat may be trying to seek your attention while you’re enjoying a book.

There are numerous reasons for this cat behavior, all of which are harmless. For cat owners, the only word of caution is to avoid paper material if your cat tries to eat it. Make sure that the paper doesn’t contain any harmful material (e.g. glue) and also remove any staples before allowing your cat to play with it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do cats like to sit inside things?

Cats often like to sit inside paper bags or cardboard boxes. This may be because they like to hide when they feel anxious or a bit insecure. It may also be that they’re playing or just simply looking for a warm place to sit.

Why does my cat sit on my notebook?

Cats like to sit on paper as it’s an insulating material that stays warm. It may also be that your cat is sitting on your notebook so that they can be closer to you, and they are looking for your attention.

Why does my cat lay on my stuff?

Your stuff will smell of you and your cat may feel more secure sitting on these objects with your familiar with your scent. They may even mark their own scent on the objects by rubbing their face against them.

Why do cats like to sit on cardboard?

Cats like to sit on cardboard because it stays warm and insulates heat. Cardboard boxes often provide cozy hiding areas for cats and they also love to play in boxes.

Help us do better! Was this article helpful and relevant?
What can you say about this article?
I am completely satisfied, I found useful information and tips in this article
Article was somewhat helpful, but could be improved
Want to share more?
Thank You for the feedback! We work to make the world a better place for cats, and we're getting better for you.
Avatar photo

About Dr. Aisling O'Keeffe MVB CertSAM ISFMAdvCertFB MRCVS

Aisling qualified from University College Dublin as a veterinarian in 2015 and went on to work in a mixture of small animal hospitals here and in the UK, including a cat-only veterinary clinic where she currently works. She has completed a postgraduate certificate in Small Animal Medicine and the International Society of Feline Medicine's postgraduate certificate in Advanced Feline Behaviour. She wrote a children's book called 'Minding Mittens', which aims to educate children on cat behaviour and care. Aisling featured on the RTE tv series 'Cat Hospital'. She is a Fear Free certified vet, which aims to make vet visits as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. In her spare time, she enjoys looking after her pets, which includes 4 felines.

Want to give your cat better care every day? Get our free day to day care guide.

Based on advice from cat behaviorists, we’ve developed a step-by-step guide to a healthy routine that brings out your cat’s best. From daily habits to yearly must-do’s, we’ve laid out everything you need to set the foundation for a stress-free, happy life.

Inside the day to day guide, you’ll find:
  • Easy to understand infographics
  • Checklists for simple management
  • Must-do’s for a healthy cat

Get your free guide! Get your free guide!