What Is Pica In Cats? Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Pica is a condition that causes cats to eat non-food items such as wool, plastic, and paper. This behaviour can be dangerous for the cat and can lead to digestive problems, blockages, and other health issues if not addressed. In this article, we will explore what pica is, what materials are consumed, at what age it occurs, how to recognize it, its pros and cons, alternatives, step-by-step to do, compare, tips, and the best practices.

What Is Pica In Cats? Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

What is Pica in Cats?

Pica is a condition in which a cat eats non-food items. This can include things like dirt, rocks, string, plastic, and even hair. Pica is most common in certain cat breeds, such as Siamese cats shed, Burmese, Tonkinese, and other Oriental types. However, it can also occur in cats of any breed.

The exact cause of pica is unknown, but there are a number of possible factors that may contribute to it. These include:

  • Nutritional deficiencies: Pica can sometimes be a sign of a nutritional deficiency. For example, cats who are deficient in iron may chew on wood or dirt in an attempt to get the iron they need.
  • Medical conditions: Pica can also be a symptom of certain medical conditions, such as anemia, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism or worse put a cat with hyperthyroidism to sleep.
  • Behavioral problems: Pica can also be a behavioral problem. Cats who are bored, stressed, or anxious may chew on or eat non-food items as a way to self-soothe. If they change their behaviour without any health problems, you may consider the reasonable cost for a Cat Behaviorist trainning.

If you think your cat may have pica, it is important to take them to the vet to rule out any medical causes. Once any medical problems have been addressed, your vet may recommend behavioral modification techniques to help your cat break the pica habit.

What Cause Pica in Cats?

Pica is a condition in which cats eat non-food items. This can be a variety of things, including wool or yarn, plastic bags, paper, rubber bands, plants, litter, and clothing. These objects can cause serious problems if ingested, such as:

  • Blockages in the digestive tract, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation.
  • Intestinal perforation, which can be fatal.
  • Poisoning, if the object is toxic to cats.
  • Intestinal parasites, if the object is contaminated.

At What Cat’s Age Occur Pica?

Pica can develop in cats of any age, but it’s most commonly seen in kittens. Kittens may develop pica because they’re teething and need to chew on something to relieve discomfort. However, older cats can also develop pica due to stress, boredom, or medical issues.

How To Know If Cats Have Pica?

When cats are playing, they may chew and tear at objects, but they do not typically consume the pieces. This is because they are simply mimicking their hunting behavior. They are not trying to eat the object, they are just trying to tear it apart.

Cats with pica will typically take the object in their mouth and grind it repeatedly with their back molar teeth before swallowing it. This behavior can happen very quickly, in just a few seconds.

The reason why cats with pica find this behavior so rewarding is not fully understood. One theory is that the act of chewing releases chemicals in the brain that produce a feeling of pleasure. This pleasure can become addictive, and the cat may start to go to great lengths to seek out the fabric or other non-food item that they crave.

If you have ever seen a cat that is eating fabric, you may have noticed that they have an expression of sheer ecstasy on their face. This is because the act of chewing is releasing chemicals in their brain that make them feel good.

Is Pica Dangerous For Cat?

Substances chosen refers to the things that cats eat or swallow. The Cat body cannot break down these substances into smaller molecules that can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

These substances can block the intestines and prevent food from passing through. Surgery (called a laparotomy) to remove the material means that The veterinarian will need to make an incision in the abdomen to remove the blockage. And they may need to remove part of the intestine if the blockage is severe. Most cats will recover from this surgery and be able to go home.

You may list pica in one of the most dangerous disease that need to focus on. Human foods are foods but these cats still can not eat beacause they may lead disease for cats, such as:

With pica – a disease cause by no foods eating – need more observe and control because you may not know when and where they eat no food materials.

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How To Know If Cats Have a Blockage?

Signs of a blockage in the intestines include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation (straining unproductively), and general listlessness. If you notice any of these signs in your cat, it is important to take them to the veterinarian immediately.

Constantly aware of your cat’s behavior and looking for any changes that could be signs of a problem. If you know your cat suffers from pica, it is especially important to be vigilant and monitor them closely for signs of a blockage.

What To Do If Cat Eat Wool or Other Material?

Indoor cats with pica can be helped by providing them with ample indoor stimulation.This could include things like toys, scratching posts, and cat trees. It is also important to remove all materials that the cat could eat, such as string, plastic, and rubber bands.

A high-fiber diet could be advantageous for certain cats. This can help to satisfy their chewing needs and make them feel full. You can also try giving your cat softened hide sticks or other chew toys.

If your cat is chewing on non-food objects without any real interest, you can discourage them by applying Olbas Oil or Bitter Apple on those items.These substances have a bitter taste that most cats will not like. Or you may use scents that cats hate to apply on the surface. Cats will smell and go away, say bye with that things they can not eat.

It might be essential to bring your cat to the veterinarian for additional medical care in certain situations. This is especially true if the cat is showing signs of illness or if the pica is causing a problem.

What To Do If Can Not Stop Cats From Pica?

Pica can be very dangerous for cats, as they can choke on the items they eat, or the items can block their digestive tract. Pica can be caused by a number of factors, including boredom, cat have separation anxiety, and nutritional deficiencies.

If your cat is exhibiting pica behavior, it is important to consult with a behavior specialist. The behaviorist will visit your home and assess your cat’s lifestyle. They will look for any potential stressors in your cat’s environment, and they will make suggestions for how to stimulate your cat and reduce stress.

In some cases, your veterinarian may also prescribe an antidepressant drug. This can help to reduce your cat’s anxiety and make it less likely that they will engage in pica behavior.

Behavior therapy and medication can be very effective in managing pica in cats. However, it is important to be patient and consistent with the treatment plan. It may take some time for your cat to fully overcome pica behavior.

Should You Inform The Breeder When Cats Have Pica?

If your pedigree cat has pica, it is important to inform the breeder. This is because pica can be passed down from parents to offspring. By informing the breeder, they can prevent the problem from occurring in future generations of cats if they are reputable breeder.

Here are some of the reasons why it is important to inform the breeder:

  • The breeder can take steps to prevent the problem from occurring in future generations of cats. This may include screening breeding stock for pica, or providing genetic counseling to potential buyers.
  • The breeder can help you to manage your cat’s pica. They may be able to provide you with advice on how to deter your cat from eating non-food items, or how to treat any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to the problem.
  • The breeder can help you to find a good home for your cat if you are unable to manage their pica.

Other Pica Problems May Affect On Cats

Cats may eat other abnormal materials besides wool and other fabrics. This behavior is not related to the habit that is common in Oriental breeds. Oriental breeds are more likely to eat wool because they have a genetic predisposition to do so. Other cats may eat abnormal materials for a variety of reasons, such as medical conditions, boredom, or anxiety.

Cats that eat abnormal materials for medical reasons may also exhibit other behaviors that indicate they are unwell. These behaviors may include weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy. If you notice your cat eating abnormal materials and exhibiting other concerning behaviors, it is important to take them to the veterinarian to rule out any medical causes.

Cats Eat Litter, When Should Nervous?

Kittens are curious and may eat cat litter when they are first being weaned and toilet trained. Some organic, biodegradable, natural cat litters are safe for kittens to eat, but many clumping litters are made with sodium bentonite, a highly absorbent material that can cause dehydration and respiratory problems if eaten or inhaled by kittens.

For this reason, it is best to avoid using clumping clay litters when kittens are very young. If you do use clumping clay litter, be sure to keep it out of reach of kittens and monitor them closely for any signs of illness.

Adult cats who start to eat clay-based litter may be doing so because they are sick. Some diseases, such as anemia, can cause cats to crave non-food items. If you notice your cat eating clay-based litter, it is important to take them to the veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.


Pica in cats can be a serious condition that requires attention and care. By understanding the causes, signs, and preventive measures, you can help ensure your cat’s health and well-being. If your cat is exhibiting pica behaviour, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible to identify the underlying cause and develop a plan of action.

What Is Pica In Cats? Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

FAQs What Is Pica In Cats? Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Is pica serious in cats?

Yes, pica can be serious. Ingesting non-food items can lead to a range of health issues, from gastrointestinal upset to life-threatening blockages requiring surgery. Furthermore, some items might be toxic or harmful when ingested.

What happens when cats have pica?

Cats with pica will consume non-food items. Commonly chewed or ingested items include fabrics (like wool), plastics, rubber bands, and even litter. Depending on the ingested item, cats can suffer from gastrointestinal irritation, blockages, poisoning, or other injuries.

What is pica OCD cats?

While pica is sometimes colloquially referred to as “OCD-like” behavior, it’s not exactly the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in humans. However, the repetitive, seemingly compulsive consumption of non-food items can seem analogous to obsessive-compulsive behaviors. When referring to “OCD in cats,” it’s more about describing a repeated, fixed behavior that doesn’t have a clear function or purpose.

Does anxiety cause pica in cats?

Anxiety can be a contributing factor. Cats may develop pica as a response to stress, boredom, or anxiety. Environmental changes, lack of stimulation, or underlying anxiety disorders can lead to pica in some cats. You may enrich your cat’s life by create more source of entertainment for cats.

How do you fix a cat’s pica?

Addressing pica requires a multifaceted approach:

  • Medical Evaluation: Always consult a vet to rule out underlying medical causes like nutritional deficiencies or gastrointestinal issues.
  • Environmental Enrichment: Provide toys, playtime, and stimulation. Cats may turn to non-food items out of boredom.
  • Deterrence: Make the items they’re prone to chew on less appealing, using safe deterrents or by placing them out of reach.
  • Safe Alternatives: Offer safe chewing alternatives, like cat-safe toys.
  • Behavioral Modification: Some cats benefit from positive reinforcement training or even anti-anxiety medications.
  • Minimize Stress: Identify and minimize sources of stress or change in the cat’s environment.

Can pica in cats be cured?

Pica can often be managed, and in some cases, with the right interventions, the behavior can be significantly reduced or eliminated. However, it depends on the root cause of the pica and the interventions applied. In some cats, it might be a lifelong management issue.

How did my cat get pica?

The cause of pica in cats can be multifactorial. Possible reasons include:

  • Medical Issues: Nutritional deficiencies, endocrine disorders, or gastrointestinal diseases.
  • Genetic or Developmental Factors: Some cats may be predisposed to pica or develop the behavior early in life, perhaps due to early weaning.
  • Environmental Factors: Boredom, lack of environmental stimulation, or changes in the environment.
  • Behavioral or Psychological Issues: Stress, anxiety, or compulsive behaviors.

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