Pica in Cats: Why Cats Eat Strange Things

Pica in cats is the eating of non-food items.

Pica in cats is the regular eating of non-food items. Plastic, cotton, paper, cords, and shoelaces are all common targets of cats with pica. It can be very dangerous for a cat to engage in pica because non-food items can cause choking, GI upset, and intestinal obstruction that may require surgery.

Pica is considered an obsessive-compulsive disorder in cats. This means that it is a repetitive, uncontrollable impulse.

It's important to note that not all cats that chew or eat non-food items have pica. Especially in the case of kittens, cats may just be experimenting or playing with an item. Pica refers to a long-term habit, not a one-time incident.

Pica is more common in Oriental cat breeds, especially Siamese. This indicates that there may be a genetic component to the likelihood of a cat developing pica. It is also possible that this over-representation of Siamese cats has to do with their sensitive nature, since many cases of pica are triggered by stress.

Causes of Pica in Cats

If your cat is eating non-food items regularly, medical causes of pica must be explored first, through a visit to your veterinarian. Pica may begin as a medical issue but become a habit if it goes on for too long before it is treated. Some medical problems that sometimes cause pica in cats are:

Stressful situations may serve as triggers for cats to begin engaging in pica. These can include:

Other considerations for pica in cats:

How to Treat Pica in Cats

Treatment for feline pica depends on the cause. Some treatment possibilities include:

Although pica can be a frustrating problem for cat owners, it is important that you never use punishment to deal with it. This can cause your cat to experience more stress and anxiety and make the problem worse.

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