It is extremely disturbing to see your cat eating kitty litter and other non-food materials like dirt, papers, strings, and so forth. This behavior of eating non-food items is known as pica. Despite this behavior being common with cats, it is not healthy and should be avoided at all costs. However, there are various underlying reasons why cats eat litter. It is harmful as the litter could cause blockage from the intestines or cause your cat to choke. Before coming up with ways to stop this abnormal behavior, it is important to figure out why it is happening in the first place.
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Why Does a Cat Eat Litter?
There are a variety of underlying reasons why cats eat litter. Below are common causes that lead to litter-eating by cats.
Eating litter could be a sign that your cat is sick and is suffering from anemia. This condition develops when your pet’s red blood cells or hemoglobin are at lower levels. Anemia could be caused by infections, diabetes, or toxins, generally called regenerative type, or could be non-regenerative where the causes could be among bone marrow disorders or possess chronic diseases.
When the kitty has white, pale, or bluish gums, that is a symptom called discoloration which could manifest that your kitty has a deficiency in vitamins, trace minerals, essential fatty acids, and irons. In extreme cases, could be that your cat has leukemia which could cause this condition. Whenever you notice pica from your cat, ensure to inform a veterinarian as soon as possible.
2. Bored cats or curios kittens.
Not all the time that cats could be having health problems to eat litter around. Sometimes, the kittens get curious about the little pellets and grains. Just like human beings who stuff anything they find in their mouths, so do the kittens, they try to learn and want to explore through a tasting which is among their senses. Though most adult cats are unlikely to eat litter, their curiosity could be aroused from the change in the silica crystal litter to perhaps a wheat or corn litter.
3. Nutritional deficiency.
Cat food should have a variety of nutrients just like human beings require. If the food the cat is eating does not have enough nutrition in the original food, then it is likely to find the cat feeding on its litter. Among the nutrients that he may be lacking include Vitamin A, magnesium, sodium, thiamine, taurine, or a combination of these minerals and nutrients. Besides, the clay-based litters are likely to be eaten by the cat as they contain minerals.
4. Leaving their mother too soon.
For a kitten to be separated from its mother, it should have reached the age of eight weeks. Under this duration, the kittens have enough duration to learn from mothers how to use the litter box and how the litter buries their waste instead of eating them. However, if the kittens are removed from their mother too soon, they would regard the litter in the box as edible.
5. Kidney diseases.
With the increment in the age of your cat, the kidney among other vital organs may become less efficient. Thus, you find the kidneys are required to work hard to perform their jobs. Consequently, if unable to do them, there is a high likeliness to develop kidney diseases. Besides weight loss, depression, and vomiting, pica is among the symptoms of kidney disease. When you notice this condition, notify your vet as soon as possible.
How to Stop Your Cat from Litter Eating?
Now that you have known the reasons why the cat eats litter, it is important to note that immediately after your cat starts eating litter, take him to the veterinarian. That way the underlying causes will be observed and the vet will rule out what is causing pica thus coming up with solutions. There are numerous things that you can do stop your cat from eating litter again, they include:
– Monitor the kitty litter use.
Keep close observation of your cat. As soon he goes to eat the litter from the litter box, remove him. With time he will get tired and stop altogether.
Improve the constituents you are feeding your cat.
Through consultation with your vet or veterinary nutritionist, upgrade your cat food-based recommendations as provided. Ensure that he is normally eating as required and there is a bowl of water available anytime he is thirsty. Or you could swap your cat’s food for a new flavor or a brand.
– Setting active playtime with your cat.
Sometimes the older mature cat is just bored and he could be craving your attention. Set aside at least 20 minutes of active playing with your cat daily. When playing around, the cat’s minds are stimulated and the likelihood to eat litter just because it’s bored highly reduces. You could walk him outdoors and let him watch the birds. Also, by giving your cat someone to play with or a fellow cat. It never gets bored as it’s not alone.
– Regularly visit your vet.
When you have those vets scheduled for your cats, please refrain from ignoring them. Your cat may seem alright to you but when the doctor conducts tests on it, they find symptoms of disease your cat might have been developing. The regular check-ups keep your cat healthy and detect a problem before it gets worse.
– Offer other chewing toys.
When your kitten is simply curious and loves playing around. Buy some chewing toy for the kitty to keep it occupied and engaged hence diverting his attention from eating litter.
– Shift to a safe non-clumping litter.
Due to curiosity, some cats may ingest their litters when playing with it, for instance, the clumping clay litters. These can be dangerous in the digestive tract of your cat. Therefore, switching them to non-clumping litters e.g. the special pellets or shredded newspaper are not likely to cause obstruction. For adjusting purposes from the old litter box to the new one, mix the old litter to the new litter for a while until he fully adjusts.
Is your cat eating kitty litter? From the above article, you can figure out the reasons for eating the kitty litter and how to stop the cat from doing the same. Take your cat to the vet and after testing, follow the following measures provided above and watch your cat‘s problem fully resolve.