by Michael
(London, UK)

Cats like to eat grass - Photo by Irregular Shed (Flickr)

Pica in cats means eating non-nutritional objects. Pica can affect any animal including the human animal. It affects dogs more that cats1. The condition's name comes from the Latin word for magpie, a bird which is reputed to eat almost anything1.

In the cat world, pica most often manifests itself in eating plants or fabrics. It could be argued that a cat eating plants is not strictly pica as wildcats eat vegetation and some more than others - see The cat that eats vegetation. Cats also eat grass for the folic acid in it.

For full-time indoor cats, eating plants may well be the only available substitute for eating grass. However, some plants are poisonous to cats - see also: House plants poisonous to cats. Cat keepers should only keep non-toxic plants.

Another version of pica is wool chewing or any kind of fabric. This damages clothes! It is reported to occur more often in Siamese and Burmese cats2.

It is thought that wool chewing and sucking is due to early weaning. More research is required. Another theory is that it happens because the cat needs to ingest indigestible fibre. Once again this has not been firmly established.

Perhaps the more likely theory is that it is a form of OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder. OCD can also be manifest in over-grooming and tail biting. Feline endocrine alopecia can in fact be OCD over-grooming. See also: Maine Coon hair loss and Hair loss in cats.

OCD may be due to stress. Discovering the underlying cause of stress in your cat and removing it must help. Drugs can help too but these are a definite last resort in my opinion. All drugs are poisons, ultimately. Sometimes increasing the number of meals a day can also assist. Finally, allowing your cat to eat grass would no doubt assist in reducing plant eating.

Notes:

1. Wikipedia authors

2. The Cat, Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health by Linda P Case - page 180 - Neville PF and Bradshaw JWS, Unusual appetites.

From Pica in Cats to Cat Health Problems

Comments for
Pica In Cats

Click here to add your own comments

Apr 28, 2011 Thank you
by: Anonymous

Thanks for this helpful article. My cat was eating litter. It was clumping litter. I realised that this was dangerous.

I changed the litter and took her to the vet. He said that she was a bit anemic but she was not ill generally.

So I beefed up her diet. Bought her higher quality food and I also bought a window ledge thing so she could look out the window. She seems to be less bored.

I also play with her more. I do this to try and destress her incase stress is part of the problem.

I was told that cats can get a type of obsessional behavior disorder (OCD) that can make them eat weird things like cat litter and plastic.


Michael Broad

Hi, I am 70-years-of-age at 2019. For 14 years before I retired at 57, I worked as a solicitor in general law specialising in family law. Before that I worked in a number of different jobs including professional photography. I have a longstanding girlfriend, Michelle. We like to walk in Richmond Park which is near my home because I love nature and the landscape (as well as cats and all animals).

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts

Cat Sculpture by Grayson Perry

This is a photograph of Grayson Perry's sculpture of a cat which he has uploaded…

13 hours ago

Notorious “Tiger King” Joe Exotic injected staff with big cat tranquilliser when they had the flu

This is another tidbit of exotic Americana; the world of private zoos, exotic cats and…

18 hours ago

Hermann Göring’s Pet Lions

The Nazis used animals as trappings of tyranny writes David Crossland in The Times today.…

18 hours ago

Cat rescuers must respect people’s privacy in Facebook postings

This is an interesting and perhaps a landmark legal case regarding writing posts on Facebook…

19 hours ago

Does cat vomit contain toxoplasmosis?

This is a good question that had not occurred to me before I noticed that…

22 hours ago

Why does my cat’s vomit look like poop?

SEEK IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL TREATMENT IF YOUR CAT'S VOMIT LOOKS LIKE POOP. Your cat is vomiting…

23 hours ago