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Pica in Cats

Provide mental and physical stimulation. A bored cat will look for something to do and that something might include chewing on a non-edible item. Increase environmental enrichment by providing puzzle feeders, activity toys, scratching posts, cat trees, and other forms on stimulation.  Place a cat tree near a window so your cat can watch the outdoor activities. If you think your cat would enjoy some exposure to outdoors, consider purchasing or constructing a safe outdoor enclosure. Some of them are just enclosures that can be installed in windows and others are more elaborate and have walkways for kitty. Another option is to train your cat to walk on a leash and harness.

black cat looking out window

Photo: Pam Johnson-Bennett

Interactive play therapy. Engage your cat in a couple of interactive play therapy sessions per day. When you use a fishing pole-type toy you can control the movements so your cat is able to truly benefit both mentally and physically. She gets to get the “mighty hunter” and enjoy stalking, pouncing and capturing. Be consistent about the play schedule and try to conduct at least two 15-minute sessions per day. Cats like the comfort of familiar routines.

Safe alternatives for chewing. In addition to puzzle feeder toys, try growing some safe kitty greens (rye, oat or wheat grass) or catnip for your cat. You can find kitty greens kits in your local pet product store. You can also buy an already-grown square of grass from many organic food stores or grow your own. Don’t offer grass from your lawn because it’s often treated with chemicals and fertilizers.

Photo: Pexels

Reduce stress. Use your detective skills to determine what is causing stress in her environment. Is there another companion cat causing tension? Is there stress in the family? Have you made changes to your cat’s environment? Stress triggers can be big and obvious or they can be small and easy for humans to overlook. Work on creating a more secure and comforting environment for your cat. Make sure she has cozy little hideaways for napping, elevated areas so she can look over her environment, has a secure feeding station location and a secure litter box area. Look at the environment from your cat’s point of view. In a multicat household, be sure there are adequate resources for each cat and that they’re located in various areas so one cat doesn’t have to cross another cat’s preferred area in order to access the litter box, food/water bowls or a napping location.

4 comments

  1. my cat tiggs is a great example of a pica cat…he will eat anything in its path, especially plastic he likes to chew on…

  2. My 15 year old Cat “Holly” , has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.
    Her life has changed , from being a healthy fit Girl, to now being a scrawny and changed in behaviour Cat.
    Holly , has being sleeping in the kitty litter tray(it has a hood) . She was also trying to get outside every chance she could. And would be lying under the car across the road. She has been seen by a Vet. Now She has started to eat the kitty litter granules.
    She is also becoming more incontinent. It breaks my heart to see her like this, and what She is going through.
    Thanks,
    Cherie Gibbs 27/11/2018

  3. Our cat has been chewing on foam rubber (neoprene). It wasn’t a health problem until he started swallowing it and it caused painful constipation, leading to loss of appetite, vomiting, and either lethargy or aggressive behavior. The first time, he passed a huge stool. The second time, we had to take him to the vet. We have to keep any insulated wine totes or soda can insulators out of his reach!

  4. My cat eats wire wool hair bobbles and eat a hole dinner plate sizemail missing. Drinks tea coffee is this pica

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