Why does my cat eat soil?
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Why does my cat eat soil? Dr Fogle DVM tells us in Complete Cat Care that, ‘Some anaemic cats lick bricks or concrete, or eat litter or soil’. There you have it; your cat might be eating soil because he/she is anaemic but what is the link between anaemia and eating soil and what causes anaemia?

Pale gums in cat with anemia

Pale gums in cat with anemia

Anemia is not a disease but a consequence of a condition. It develops because of (a) a loss of blood from e.g. internal bleeding or because (b) red blood cells disintegrate caused by a range of infections and diseases. Chronic kidney disease can cause anemia because the kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin which stimulates red blood cell production in bone marrow.

Feline anaemia can also be caused by a dietary deficiency – uncomplicated nutritional anaemia (Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook). This might be a diet deficient in iron and other essential nutrients as a diet deficient in iron can cause anaemia.

Anaemic cats can develop the well-known condition called Pica, which is a craving for non-nutritious foods or objects. But why does a cat think that eating soil will alleviate anaemia? The cat may be instinctively trying to rectify the diet deficient in iron as soils typically contain 1–5% total iron (corn.agronomy.wisc.edu/Management/pdfs/a3554.pdf). This last sentence is my personal thought and is not taken from a reference work.

P.S. This article highly summarises the literature on this subject. Please read more and consult with your veterinarian.

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About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!

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