If your cat constantly licks, chews, or eats things that are not cat food, she might suffer from a disorder called Pica. Pica in cats is the act of consuming non-food items. Consuming non-food products may be very harmful to a cat since a feline may be electrocuted when chewing on electrical wires, and digesting certain plants may be poisonous.
Other inedible items may obstruct the intestines and hinder the flow of food, such as clothes. Pica is a severe behavioral problem that, if not treated by a veterinarian, may become lethal.
Symptoms of Pica in Cats
Pica has just one pathological symptom in cats, and that is swallowing of inedible materials. Popular feline pica target items include trees, electrical cords, phone cords, fur, cotton, thread, or yarn. You may also find your cat chewing on plastic or your cat eating litter (my cat eats everything that can fit in her mouth!). In cats, secondary conditions of pica can include:
- General listlessness
- Decreased appetite
Signs of an Underlying Health Issue
A cat may continue to chew and lick on odd items in certain cases since they have acquired a health condition that could involve the following:
- Feline infectious peritonitis
- Lead poisoning
- Intestinal parasites
- Chronic deficiencies in their diet
If you’re concerned about your cat’s unusual eating patterns, you should take them to the vet so that they can be properly checked and monitored for any potential factors that prompt them to consume weird and often harmful items.
What Causes Pica in Cats?
In each cat, pica not only seems distinct (in terms of what they are attempting to eat), but the precise cause of it is still uncertain. No one understands really why particular cats show this type of behavior. Pica in cats have been connected to various other disorders, so it’s hard to pin point a single source. However, below are some of the most significant factors according to veternarians:
A deficiency of vitamins and minerals could contribute to Pica in cats. Blood tests will easily expose these problems. Check with your vet as soon as you think or see some symptoms of pica in cats.
Because of their genetic nature, particular cats might be more prone to chew, suckle, or eat non-food products. Oriental breeds, such as Siamese and Birman cats, are more vulnerable to wool-sucking, according to Dr Alice. However, this disorder is not inclusive of certain breeds and it’s possible to transfer this genetic predisposition to individual cats as well.
Some cats can consume things that are not food because they find it fascinating or entertaining and could be a reason for pica in cats. As they discover the environment around them, you may find your cat eating litter. Some cats can pick up this habit early and never drop it.
Some cats may have an addiction and tend to consume non-food products that are not due to any apparent external reason and are connected to a neurological abnormality.
Diagnosis of Cat Pica
Pica evaluation in cats will continue with frequent talks with your vet. You will be required to clarify the behavior that your cat has shown, what he or she is searching for as a target to eat, and the length of this behavior. Since unpleasant or unfamiliar circumstances may activate Pica, it is crucial to note any new developments that can impact your feline.
The vet may choose to undergo blood checks, including a full count of blood cells, a bloodstain, and a biochemistry profile. To identify the risk of the underlying condition that could induce pica in the feline, the veterinarian may even ask for urinalysis. The vet may perform radiographs or a CT scan of the feline’s brain as brain tumors are a possible cause of pica in cats.
How Can You Treat Your Cats Pica Issues?
Any medication to treat Pica must always begin with your vet. Pica is a confusing condition, and there’s no one clear cause. That being said, here are some aspects your vet may discuss with you after specific medical conditions have been ruled out.
Remove Target Items
You’ll need to begin by trying to remove whatever items your cat is trying to eat. This is typically better said than achieved when some cats will go for absolutely anything. For example, it may often be incredibly challenging to cover both cords or clothes.
Although, aside from other medical conditions, one of the most effective measures you can do to handle this disorder better is to eliminate any products that your cat is attempting to eat. If your cat constantly destroys your plants, read my article on 7 Effective Ways to Keep Cats Out Of Plants.
Cord covers would be the only option when it comes to cables. It may also be a good idea to ensure your cat does not enter certain rooms that can pose risks to your cat. Clean the rooms your cat does enter frequently and often, ensuring you are not leaving behind pieces of plastic and small items your cat can choke on.
Redirect the Cat's Behavior
It’s important to remember that telling your cat to stop chewing on certain things will not help. It’s more beneficial to give your cat something healthier and more suitable to chew on and something they can’t eat in the case of pica. Or something healthy for them to eat, potentially.
If your cat is constantly chewing and eating your plants, there are Cat Grass Growing Kits your cat might enjoy. If your find your cat eating cardboard, find them some treats that have a similar texture. If you find your cat eating cat litter, you should monitor your cat and remove them from the litter as soon as they done using it.
Most cats chew and finally consume non-food items usually out of boredom. A food dispenser can also assist with this, but it is necessary to have time to play daily with your cat. Provide lots of fun interactive toys while spending quality time with your cat.
Fiber will help fulfill the urge of your cat to consume more while retaining a balanced body weight. That’s because, while also helping your cat feel full, fiber provides fewer calories. Essentially, you’re redirecting your cat’s cravings to eat, but maintaining the fiber content to stop fat benefit.
Use A Deterrent
There are specific deterrent sprays that can be sprayed on things to make chewing for your cat uncomfortable. Fully pet friendly and healthy for your cats, these items will make pica felines think twice before chowing down.
Drugs to calm your cat could be recommended as the safest choice in certain situations for pica in cats, mainly if your cat displays signs of obsession or dependence.
Consult A Professional Feline Behavioralist
It might be time to contact a specialist feline behavioralist for support regarding pica in cats until the vet has ruled out medical problems. They will help develop a personalized solution focused on the pica issues of your particular cat.
How to Prevent Pica in Cats
The best prevention for pica in cats is to minimize stress. Ensure that your cat has outlets to play regularly while eating a balanced diet.
Ensure that each cat has its area to live in a multi-cat home, while having quiet time away from the other cats. Ensure your are feeding your cat a sufficient amount of food and water, and an acceptable number of litter boxes.
You should have one more box of litter than the number of cats at home. Cats are natural hunters, so they need platforms to participate in hunting activities. An indoor cat’s traditional lazy life would not give them a chance to practice these instincts.
Consider feeding all or part of your cat’s meal from a feeder that simulates natural hunting behaviors, rather than feeding your cat from a bowl. These feeders are designed to be shaken or rolled by your cat to force out small amounts of food.
For cats, this is far more stimulating than eating out of a bowl and allows them the chance to practice normal hunting behaviors. If your cat’s chewing on everything but food, follow some of these guidelines above to help redirect their attention.
The prognosis is guarded for pica in cats. Many felines will “grow out” of the this behavior, while others may require ongoing counseling. Your vet should be able to refer you to a veterinary behaviorist if your cat does not improve with the treatments prescribed.
Since pica in cats can contribute to intestinal congestion, signs such as listlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation need to be kept in mind. Consult your veterinarian as soon as practicable if you experience these signs.
When breaking from Pica, patience is essential; your cat might have formed a long-term pattern of consuming non-food products. You’ll need to sort out the origin and go backwards from there, because Pica in cats is essentially an obsessive-compulsive condition. For optimum performance, keep patient and work closely with your veterinarian.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do cats chew on plastic?
If your cats chew on plastic, they may just be treating it as a toy and enjoy the texture and sounds it make. However, if your cat keeps eating plastic, they may be dealing with a disorder known as pica in cats. You should constantly monitor this behavior, as cats eating plastic can be very detrimental to their health.
The plastic can obstruct your cat’s intestines, and cause major internal issues. Take your cat to a vet immediately if your cat eats plastic and try to remove these choking hazards from your house.
How to stop cat from eating litter?
If you find your cats eating litter, you might need to monitor them closely, as they could be dealing with pica in cats. When they are finished using it, you might need to remove them from there until it becomes a habit. Also, try to associate negative feelings if you see your cat eat litter. Make a loud sound, spray them with a little water or move them into their cat carrier for a few minutes.
Why does my cat eat paper?
If you find your cat eating paper constantly, again it could be a sign of Pica. Pica in cats is a disorder where cats tend to bite, chew and eat anything that isn’t food. This can include your cat chewing cardboard, your cat eating hair or even your cat eating litter. Monitor your cats behavior, and depending on the severity, it may be time to see a vet.